Honey Bees and Our Food…
As the field bees forage for nectar, pollen sticks to the fuzzy hairs which cover their bodies. Some of this pollen rubs off on the next flower they visit, fertilizing the flower and resulting in better fruit production. Some plants will not produce fruit at all without the help of honeybees.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that honeybees accomplish 1/4 of the pollination needed for all fruit produced for human consumption – an estimated $10 billion worth of work! California’s Almond Trees, the state’s top export, would produce 40 pounds of almonds per acre without Honey Bees. With them, they produce 2,400 pounds per acre! They pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of fruits, as well, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons. In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination. Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees.
Native bees also pollinate crops, although their presence often goes unnoticed by growers. These wild bees are superior pollinators for selected crops and sometimes enhance the quality of pollination provided by honey bees. For example, while bumble bees pollinate tomatoes, blueberries, and cranberries very effectively, honey bees do not. In other crops, wild bees cause honey bees to move between pollanizer and female rows more often, thus making honey bees more effective pollinators.
As a carbohydrate, honey supplies energy at 64 calories per tablespoon, providing fuel to working muscles. Studies have found honey to be a very effective form of carbohydrate to ingest just prior to exercise. Honey roasted nuts will keep you energized when you need it. Use honey to sweeten up your breakfast oatmeal as well!
Vitamins, Minerals and Amino Acids in Every Bite! Honey contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. The vitamins found in honey may include (depending on floral variety) niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid; minerals present include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Refined sugar (the white stuff) gives you NONE of these health benefits.
In addition to the nutrients that are involved in normal metabolic activity, honey has a phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants perform the role of eliminating free radicals, which are reactive compounds in the body. Free radicals are created through the normal process of metabolism and contribute to many serious diseases.
The use of honey as a wound dressing goes back to ancient times and has now been ‘rediscovered’ by modern medicine. It is a common observation in the many reports in medical journals that numerous benefits result from using honey to dress wounds. The antibacterial properties of honey help clear infection in wounds, and the anti-inflammatory action of honey reduces pain and improves circulation which hastens the healing process. Honey stimulates the re-growth of tissue involved in healing, making healing faster and reducing scarring.
When possible, buy small scale locally produced honey for optimal health benefits. Small scale producers use less intensive processing methods allowing the honey to maintain it’s optimal health benefits. In addition local honey has the ability to assist your bodies allergic response in fighting the effects of seasonal pollen.
What can we do to help the honey bee?
Plant lots of flowers and a variety of trees in your yard. This will give the wild bees plenty of variety to pollinate as well as beautiful plants for you to enjoy and eat! Avoid using pestides for both you and the bees that pollinate your flowers, shrubs and garden. You can also choose to buy organic produce when possible (remember, even once in a while helps!). Fruits and vegetables produced organically are not treated with chemicals that are hazardous to both us and the honey bee!