We all know what honey is, but when you start to explore a little further, things can surprise you! Here we explain five facts about honey that most people don’t know.
Most honeys are blends
Unless you’re buying genuine manuka honey direct from a supplier like Bee Plus, or locally sourced honey from a farmer or beekeeper, odds are you’re buying many different honeys all mixed in together. A blended honey is a mixture of two or more honeys differing in floral source, colour, flavour, density or region. The reason for this is simple; money. It’s cheaper to buy imported honey from around the world, and mix it together to make different honey products. This doesn’t mean it’s not actual honey- it just means it’s not pure honey.
China is the world’s largest producer of honey… unfortunately
More than half of the honey imported into the United States last year came from China, over 100 million lbs. China has such a dominant role in the honey industry, they usually define world honey prices. But there’s a problem with this…
Last year an estimated 10,000 tonnes of Manuka Honey were sold around the world. The problem is, New Zealand only produces 1,700 tonnes per year. That’s an awful lot of fake manuka honey out there. And guess where it comes from? Yep, China. And that’s not the only problem. Back in the late Nineties, Chinese bee hives were infected by a bacterial epidemic called Foul Brood. To combat this, the Chinese used an antibiotic called chloramphenicol.
This antibiotic was passed on by the bees into the honey, which in turn was bottled and sold to the market. Unfortunately, chloramphenicol is banned as it is a known carcinogenic. An estimated 1 in 30,000 individuals may develop aplastic anaemia weeks or months after ingesting even small doses of chloramphenicol. (In comparison, fatal reactions to penicillin affect approximately 1 in 177,000.)
Honey is a healthier alternative to sugar
We all know sugar is bad for us, but it just tastes so damn good! Honey on the other hand, is healthier and tastes even nicer! Sugar is packed with energy, but offers absolutely no nutritional value what-so-ever. With no minerals or vitamins, sugar needs to use your body’s enzymes to break itself down into fructose and glucose. Honey is already broken down into these simple sugars, and so doesn’t put your body under the extra stress, allowing those enzymes to do their real job; breaking down fatty acids. On top of that honey is full of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.
Honey lasts forever
When archaeologists first started exploring ancient Egyptian tombs, they were astonished to discover jars of honey- sealed up and still edible. Because of honey’s unique chemical make-up, it never spoils and can practically last forever. The secret lies in its chemistry; the pH level, its lack of water and the presence of hydrogen peroxide. These factors all work together, allowing the sticky treat to resist bacteria and never turn bad.
Honey Bees are awesome
The Honey Bee is one of nature’s marvels. A typical bee hive will have around 40,000 honey bees and one Queen. Contrary to common belief, the worker bees are actually female too! Visiting 50-100 flowers during one nectar gathering trip, a single bee will only produce about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime, which is about 6 weeks. Collectively, the hive will fly an estimated 90,000 miles- the equivalent of three times around the Earth- to make 1 Kg of honey. The buzzing noise a bee makes comes from their wings beating so rapidly- about 200 times per second! A bee’s sense of smell is so precise that it can differentiate hundreds of different flowers and tell which carry pollen or nectar from metres away. Amazing creatures!
Bee Plus specialises in pure, highest quality Manuka Honey. If you’d like to order some genuine Manuka Honey, then take a look at our products here. All our honey is produced in New Zealand, and each batch is independently tested using rigorous criteria set by the UMF Honey Association, so you know it’s the real thing. If you have any questions about our honey, please don’t hesitate to contact us.