History of Honey
People have been eating honey for thousands of years. Eva Crane's "The Archaeology of Beekeeping" states that honey history reaches back at least 10,000 years when humans began hunting for honey. It is widely accepted that the ancient Egyptians managed bees and there are many artifacts from Egyptian hieroglyphics that include the honey bee. Ancient Egyptians used honey to sweeten cakes and biscuits as well as embalming the dead.
Importance of Honey Bees
You can't really talk about honey without mentioning the
importance of Honey bees. Honey bees are fascinating creatures and the
only insects that produce a food consumed by humans. Additionally, they play a significant role in pollinating plants. In fact, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about one-third of the
human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants (fruits, legumes and vegetables) and the honey bee is responsible for 80 percent of this pollination.
single, healthy colony contains 40,000 to 60,000 bees. The worker bees
gather nectar from millions of flowers to make just one pound of honey,
with a colony producing 80 pounds of surplus honey each year.
worker bee flies up to 3 miles away to collect nectar. After returning
to the hive, they digest and regurgitate the nectar (more than once)
and then store the resulting honey in the hive’s honeycomb. Initially,
the nectar has too much moisture content, so the worker bees flap their
wings acting as a fan and cause the moisture to evaporate for the
resulting honey. Once the moisture content is reduced the bees cap
each honeycomb cell with beeswax to store the honey.
Making honey is hard labor. Worker bees actually “work themselves to
death” with a typical life span of 4-6 weeks in the summer. For more on bees, their life cycle and social structure, see About Honey Bees.
How Bees Make Honey
How to Make Honey
The Bees, Beekeepers and Honey Packagers go through a significant
amount of work to get your favorite honey to the table. Although the
degree of sophistication in the honey production process varies
depending on the size of the operation, the basic steps of how to make
honey from "nectar" through "bottling" are shown in the Honey
Production Process video.
Honey Production Process
consume over 400 million pounds of honey each year. Honey flavors
differ depending on the type of flower the bees visit. As a result, there
are about 300 varieties of honey in the U.S. with California, Florida,
Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota being the top
producers. Visit Types of Southern Honeys to determine which honey(s) is best for you.