I went with my son’s class on a field trip last week to a bee farm. We LOVE honey in our house (apples and honey are a favorite dessert!) and as a self-described science nerd, I knew that this was going to be fun. But it just exceeded my expectations!I came home from the day enthralled by bees. My son and I have been trading bee facts back and forth ever since. For example…
So it may come as no surprise that bees need to be well-nourished. That is probably why they produce one of nature’s most delicious and nutritious super foods: honey!
Known as “liquid gold,” honey has many health benefits. Like aloe, honey has been used for millennia for these medicinal properties. The ancient Romans and Chinese used honey to treat gasro-intestinal diseases. Today, it is a common ingredient these days in natural cough suppressants, energy drinks, and even sleep-aids.
Yes, you read that right:
It doesn’t spoil!
Smithsonian Magazine published a really clear article that explains the science behind this phenomenon. First, honey is acidic (I recently wrote about the importance of pH here). Second, honey is made in the stomach of bees where enzymes are added to break down the nectar into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is an operating room (a first-aid kit) staple. It is a powerful antiseptic. Honey has such strong anti-bacterial properties that it has been used as a topical ointment on the battle fields from Ancient Rome to World War 1 to prevent infections in wounded soldiers. Research studies have shown that honey contains bactericides against Salmonella, H. pylori, and E. Coli. All germs that can wreak havoc on our systems. And, third, it has virtually no water content so even if it doesn’t kill the bacteria, the little germs just can’t grow well inside it. [So, in full disclosure, honey CAN spoil if water gets into the pot so keep your jars well-sealed, store in a cool place, and don’t double dip!]
Honey also contains a wealth of antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes that have been shown to aid not just the GI tract but also our heart and liver. So, needless to say, I have been stocking up on this delicious and nutritious ingredient. I used it in place of sugar in my younger son’s birthday cake last month. I made these simple granola bars from Minimalist Baker for after-school snacks (though I added chocolate chips so it was 6 ingredients). As you can tell, I am not following a low-sugar/fructose diet.
Honey is also useful for skin problems like acne, psoriasis, and dark spots. I have sensitive skin and a few dark spots starting to pop out so I started making an aloe-honey-lemon face mask based on combining two of the recipes from Elizabeth at The Nourished Life. It worked really well at reducing the sleep-deprived puffiness around the eyes, made my skin feel soft, and the aloe and lemon did help to tighten the pores.
But, BEWARE, it turns out that the more honey you learn about the amazing properties of honey, the more you go through!
This is Sophie, the apicultrice (bee keeper) at the ferme apicole, Entre Deux Miels. The farm is in Ste Foy-La-Longue, France, about an hour from Bordeaux. Sophie was so patient with the children (31 first graders!) and her enthusiasm was infectious. If you are an expat or visitor in France looking for a fun activity, I highly recommend the farm. They also have a gite (rental house) that sleeps 8!