Honey has been around since the beginning of time, at least after the plants were created ;). Plants cannot grow and become fruitful without the bees that produce honey. Life without these amazing creatures would soon cease without the pollination they provide to make crops produce.
Currently there is not enough honey produced in the US to support the demand. As a result, it’s not uncommon for producers to add fillers like dextrose, glucose or other sugar syrup. There are theories as to how to determine if your honey is pure, but no definite methods for the average consumer.
In addition manufacturers possibly diluting honey supplies, the Honeybee population in the last few years have become threatened by large hive die-offs leaving scientists somewhat puzzled. According to Reuter’s the phenomenon called “Colony Collapse Disorder”, there have been many observations linking some die-offs to pesticide use. As a result, Europe has initiated a ban on three pesticides classified as neonicotinoids: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam. These pesticides deter insects from crops, namely corn. When bees are exposed to the pesticides in pollen, dust or nectar from treated crops the bees become confused and either cannot find their way back to the hive or become so harmed they cannot function in the hive. Either way, the exposure has caused the fall of many hives and tens of thousands of bees.
What does this mean to the average American? So far, these pesticides have not been banned in the US, although there are some environmentalists and beekeepers are in the process of suing the EPA to protect American hives. You can support the cause by contacting your legislatures to let them know you care about protecting honeybees and our domestic honey supply. You can also support local beekeepers in your area who are taking measures to maintain and protect hives.
We were fortunate enough to visit one farm in our area last week. I found it fascinating to see how one family has made it their life’s work to produce honey and protect the bees. Unlike the Bee Movie portrays in political propoganda, harvesting honey from the bees does not have to harm the bees if it is done with knowledge and care. The beekeepers we visited take great care to make sure the bees’ food supply will support the colony over the winter. They have been beekeepers for over 30 and gained much wisdom in the proper way to raise bees and harvest honey in a sustainable manner.
In addition, the beekeepers are providing a safe haven for the bees as they expand each hive to keep up with bee production. If there is an early frost, the beekeepers must move quickly to prepare the bees for winter and may even need to supplement their hive with food to last the winter. The bee farm we visited actually packs up all their bee hives onto a semi-trailer and moves them to Florida for the winter to make sure they survive the season. While this farm harvests honey, bees wax and propolis, they consider it unethical to harvest the royal jelly since this feeds the queen and queen bee larvae that guarantee the survival of the colony. We’re fortunate to have a local source of honey that can guarantee the purity without solvents or harmful chemicals and additives. When you have pure honey, there are many ways to include it in a holistic lifestyle. Read on for highlights of our visit plus some simple ways to use honey for modern ailments.
Indian Summer Honey Farm deals mostly with wholesale honey, but you can find them at local shops in Milwaukee and also in Sprecher Rootbeer! We just saw them at Barthels’s Apple Orchard. These are some great options for buying local in Milwaukee and finding a source for pure honey. Here are our favorite ways to use pure honey:
1. Sweetener – honey is loaded with vitamins including B-vitamins, potassium and even some protein and makes a yummy alternative to white, refined sugar. If you substitute honey for baking make sure you use a recipe specifically for honey since the liquid ratio may be distorted affecting your final product.
2. Soothe and moisturize irritated skin from acne and dry weather – make a mask of pure honey and leave on the face for 15-20 minutes to help balance PH of the skin and kill bacteria on the skin surface. Thanks Mitch for this tip!**
3. Fight colds & flu and bring pain relief from a sore throat – drink a teaspoon of warmed honey straight or add a squeeze of fresh lemon, a drop of lemon essential oil or if you really need a boost in immunity, a drop of Immune Boosting essential oil blend that has clove, cinnamon, lemon and rosemary essential oils.**
4. Cover a cold sore, cut or scrape with pure honey to ease pain and prevent infection.**
5. Drink with apple cider vinegar for a super tonic.
6. Mix with a small spoonful of coconut oil and use as a lip softener.
7. Add to your sugar or salt body scrub for extra moisture, rinse off in the shower.
What do you use honey for? I’d love to hear your ideas!
**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases. If you have an injury, illness or disease, see a medical doctor.