Nature’s offspring and mankind’s age old bounty. The bees have been producing this sweet, viscous liquid of gold for thousands of years. Historically, human usage of honey dates back as early as the Egyptians, but as far as we know, it has been in used way before that, like millions of years before that!
What is Honey?
Everyone loves honey. It is so simple yet so versatile in all its glory. Not only is it delicious, but extremely beneficial too!
Honey is made by breaking down complex sugars into simple sugars like fructose and glucose.
Honey is described as a sweet, extremely viscous liquid which is produced by honeybees and consumed by them as well. Honey is made from the nectar of flowers. The honeybees collect the nectar from different flowers and the colour and flavour of the honey is determined by this factor.
There are numerous varieties of honey that is available in the market. Some of the most popular varieties are
- Pure Wildflower
- Orange Blossom
Pure raw honey is a gem as compared to processed honey. Processed honey is loaded with added sugar and preservatives that makes it less beneficial in terms of health properties as most of the nutrients are lost.
“Where can I buy pure honey?”, is one of the most frequently asked questions from people who want relish pure and raw honey. While sifting through supermarkets can be a hassle, modern alternatives such as online stores and companies offer a lot in terms of purity and unadulterated products.
Zizira is one such company which strives to promote pure and unadulterated honey products sourced from the most trusted and ethical beekeepers of Meghalaya.
Where does Honey come from?
Nectar, in itself does not form honey, but rather the process of turning nectar into honey takes place inside the beehive.
Firstly, the nectar extracted from flowers and is stored in one of the bees’ two stomachs (honey stomach) during which the digestive enzymes of the bee are already working their magic on the nectar.
Secondly, the honey is transferred from one bee to another inside the hive until it reaches the honeycombs. How is the honey is transferred from one bee to another?
Believe it or not, when bees enter the hive after collecting nectar, they actually ‘vomit’ or discharge the regurgitated nectar to the closest bee present and the process continues until the last bee deposits the nectar into the honeycomb. As mentioned before, digestive enzymes present in the bees’ stomach play a crucial role in turning nectar into honey.
Lastly, the deposited nectar is stored in the honeycombs and is sealed with a special type of wax which is secreted by the bees known as beeswax. The bees create an air current inside the beehive which necessitates the process of turning the nectar into honey.
And voila! The end product is our precious and beloved honey.
Is honey vegan? The buzzing question
Over the recent years there has been a lot of debate when it comes to honey being vegan, or not. Although there is no concrete evidence to confirm what the truth is exactly, it all comes down to ethics.
More than consuming honey, most vegans are more concerned about the exploitation that commercial beekeepers resort to when it comes to rearing and harvesting honey.
Commercial beekeepers engage in unethical practices such as clipping off the queen bee’s wings to prevent it from leaving the hive. They also cull the entire beehive after harvesting the honey or if there is threat of disease.
This breach of morality is one of the biggest reasons why most vegans refrain from eating honey.
Of course, there are bound to be some who do consume it. While most vegans argue than it is, in some form or the other exploitation of bees, some are of the opinion that if it does not harm the bees directly, it is okay.
All in all, we can say that it naturally comes down to personal preferences.
Honey vs Sugar: Can I replace sugar with Honey?
Right off the bat, honey is known to have more calories than sugar per tablespoon.
One thing about sugar is that it can be very addictive. Most of the food products that we consume on a daily basis such as energy drinks, ice cream, and soft drinks all contain added sugar in them which can be detrimental to our health in the long run.
Excessive consumption of sugar may lead to weight gain, high blood sugar levels which inevitably leads to an increased risk of heart diseases.
Honey, on the other hand, proves to be a preferable alternative, to a certain extent.
As a result of higher concentration of fructose, honey is comparatively more sweeter than sugar and hence only a tablespoon is enough to meet your sugary needs.
Honey is also an excellent source of antioxidants such as flavonoids which reduces oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body.
However, we all know that too much of everything is not good. And that applies to honey as well. For example, honey may prove to be dangerous for one year old infants as a result of bacteria that is present in it.
Milk and Honey: The divine combination, or is it?
Whenever we talk about milk and honey, a few heads are bound to turn. The reason being, that opinions are divided when it comes to consuming milk and honey together. Some are for it, while some refrain from doing so.
We all know that both have health benefits of their own, so making a concoction out of it is surely a win. Honey is rich in antioxidants while milk is an excellent source of calcium. Adding honey to warm milk not only substitutes sugar in the milk but it also adds more flavour to the milk.
On the other hand, heating up honey results in the loss of nutrients. Hence, it should only be added to warm or lukewarm milk and stirred well for the desired effect.
Future of Honeybees and Beekeeping
With the progression of modern science and technology, ethical beekeeping is facing a staggering decline over the past couple of years. Commercial beekeeping prioritize more on the production aspect rather than the long term health of the bees. Here are some of the evils inflicted upon honeybees by unethical beekeepers:
- Beekeepers resort to artificial insemination of queen bees to eliminate mating
- Commercial beekeepers go to the extent of clipping off the queen bee’s wings so that she does not leave the colony.
- Some beekeepers harvest all of the honey inside the hive and replace it with sugar syrup. This proves to be very detrimental to the bees’ health when they consume it.
- Honeybee culling is also a common sight in commercial beekeeping. The beekeepers resort to this cruel act prevent the bees from spreading disease caused by mites.
Honeybees are extremely crucial to the environment as they are to humans for making honey. They help pollinate plants and flowers.
If honeybees were to disappear from the face of the earth, it is said that it would have devasting effects on the planet. Worst case scenario, human extinction.
So, it is high time we think about our fuzzy, buzzing friends for a change, don’t you think?