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I spend the majority of my year covered in bees, so of course I think honey (and bees) are amazing. But I would like to share a few reasons with you as to why you should, too. There are over 300 varieties of honey in the US alone. Honey can be almost black, like buckwheat honey, nearly clear like fireweed honey, and every shade and flavor in between.
A honey bee will leave the hive and fill up on flower nectar, a sweet carb-loaded treat that a flower offers its pollinator in exchange for pollination (moving powdery pollen from a flower's anther to its stigma). She (yes, she - all worker bees are female) stores the nectar in a honey crop‚ in her abdomen. A honey crop is like a chipmunk cheek, it's used for storage, not digestion. When she is full, she'll return back to the hive and off-load the sticky treasure to a bee on nectar processing duty. This bee fills the wax honey combs in the hive with nectar. She simultaneously adds enzymes from glands in her head to the nectar. She also uses her wings to fan about 80% of the water out of the nectar. Once the right balance of moisture is reached, the bee will seal the hexagon cell with a wax capping.
Then, the honey is good to go for about THREE THOUSAND YEARS!! No joke, honey doesn't have an expiration date.
Archeologists have found sealed honey in Europe and Egypt that is roughly 3,000 years old. And, it's still totally edible.
The ancient Greek athletes were known to consume honey before they entered the arena for the Olympic games. Homer described in The Iliad (IX. 631) how the tired heroes recuperated in Nestor's tent by consuming honey. Why Honey? Honey is a source of carbohydrates. It provides 17 grams per tablespoon, which makes it ideal for your working muscles since carbohydrates are the primary fuel the body uses for energy. In a study at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory, led by Dr. Richard Kreider, researchers found that honey is a fantastic carbohydrate option for athletes. It has a low glycemic index, positive metabolic response, and effective energy production.
"Our first study suggested honey could operate as a 'time released' muscle fuel for exercising muscles. Our second experiment suggested that honey would be a good carbohydrate source to replenish muscles. However, our last study convinced us that honey can improve endurance exercise capacity," concluded Dr. Kreider.
If honey and honey bees didn't already excite you, I hope this blog pushes you in the right direction. To learn more about bees, and about the work we do at the Bee Girl organization, follow me on Instagram @sarahbeegirl and check out my website www.beegirl.org.