By Gary Tulloch for the Belize Ag Report
Honey has been consumed by humans for over 10,000 years.
It is the only food from insects that we eat. Honey is derived
from the nectar of flowers, which is gathered by the female, or
worker bee and stored in her honey sac for transportation to
the hive. While obtaining the nectar, pollen from the flower
is gathered on the two hind legs of the bee. During the course
of the day, a bee may make as many as 25 trips gathering
nectar and pollen, but will only visit one type of flower. This
phenomenon is known as flower fidelity and is nature’s way of
not confusing the pollination issue.
Upon her returns to the hive, she is greeted by guards who
identify her as a member of the colony and allow her entrance.
She then passes her partially digested nectar to another
worker or deposits the nectar in an empty cell in the wax
foundation. The pollen is deposited in a cell and softened
with water to a paste. This pollen paste, a source of protein, is
used for rearing the brood.
The complex sugar (sucrose) is converted to simpler sugars
(glucose and fructose) to which are added enzymes. Water,
which in the beginning stage of honey is the dominate
component, is evaporated by the bees fanning the honey with
their wings. Less water content allows the product to better
resist spoiling. Good honey contains only about 18% water or
The mature honey consists of 80% sugar, mostly fructose and
glucose, 18% water and 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and
protein. One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories. Honey
has a healthy glycemic index, which means its sugars can be
more gradually absorbed into the system resulting in better
The vitamins present are B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin,
pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals
include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese,
phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. Honey also
contains antioxidants and is free of fat and cholesterol.
Furthermore, the vitamins and minerals in honey help to
metabolize undesirable cholesterol and fatty acids on the
organs and tissues, thus helping to prevent obesity. Honey
also improves the immune system. It also provides relief from
coughs by soothing the throat. Mixed with milk and taken
before bedtime it helps the sleep process.
Through the ages honey has been used to help the healing
of wounds. Bacteria do not live in honey and its application
to wounds tends to dry out bacteria which may be present
in the wound site. Some studies actually show that honey
can kill bacteria by virtue of a protein known as defensis-1.
Additionally, the dressings for the wound do not stick to the
affected areas when honey is applied, resulting in pain free
changing of the dressings and less interference with newly
forming tissue over the wound area.
There have been some significant results in healing diabetic
ulcers by applying honey to the affected area. One case
example described a patient with diabetic ulcers on his feet,
who, after spending over US$395,000.00 in treatments and
surgery over two years, had lost two toes and experienced no
healing of the ulcerated areas. Within weeks of treating the
areas with honey, the sores were cured and the patient was
In addition to wounds and infected areas, honey is also
good for treating burns and as a skin cream. Local honey
also helps to minimize the effects of seasonal allergies. This
appears to be the result of local pollens being introduced into
the system by ingesting honey, thus helping to immunize the
individual from the effects of the airborne pollens. Studies
have shown honey to be helpful in preventing acid reflux and
in shortening the duration of bacterial diarrhea in infants
and young children.
The wonderful thing about honey is that when consumed as
raw honey (not heated over 116 degrees) it is an entirely pure
and natural sweetener with no adverse effects and instead,
abundant healthful properties.
The BELIZE AG REPORT