Bees and honey
Historically I haven’t been a big user of honey and certainly not a big fan of bee stings. But as I continue to re-evaluate my relationships this year, I really wanted to reduce the time I spent with sugar. So, I started researching and using honey as a way to add back a touch of sweetness in my life.
Honeybees collect nectar from flowers to create honey and store it as food. For the bees, honey provides energy for flight muscles and provides heating for the hive in the winter. The color and flavor of the honey is determined by the type of flowers the nectar is collected from, and varies based on location.
Honey, unlike processed sugar granules, is a naturally occurring substance, composed mostly of the monosaccharide molecules glucose and fructose, just like table sugar. One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, whereas a tablespoon of sugar contains 45 Calories. However, honey tastes sweeter than sugar, so people tend to use less. Honey also contains trace amounts of minerals and vitamins, and has anecdotally been reported to lessen symptoms in people with seasonal allergies. Honey can contain traces of flower pollen — an allergen. And one treatment for allergies is repeated exposure to small amounts of allergens. However, don’t give honey to children younger than 1 year because of the risk of infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning.
Concern for Bees
According to The Bee Conservancy, Bees lie at the heart of our survival. They pollinate 1 in 3 bites of food we eat and are essential to the health and prosperity of countless ecosystems. However, bees are in peril. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, more than half of North America’s 4,000 native bee species are in decline, with 1 in 4 species at risk of extinction.
Pesticides are commonly used in urban and agricultural environments to kill invertebrate pests, diseases, and weeds. However, many pesticides – including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides – harm pollinators, like bees, and other beneficial insects. Exposure to pesticides can also compound the effects of other stressors on pollinator populations, such as loss of habitat and exposure to pathogens and diseases. And, pesticide contamination is wide-spread, with more than 90% of pollen samples from bee hives in agricultural landscapes and more than 90% of stream samples contaminated with more than one pesticide. Even seemingly environmentally safe bug zappers do not differentiate between harmful and beneficial insects, like mosquitos versus bees, and should be used with caution if you want to protect endangered species. Supporting organic farming not only protects the bees, but the plants and water we need for nutrition.
For most of us a bee sting is a minor inconvenience. But for others it can be a life-threatening experience. If you are allergic to bees then one sting can cause an anaphylactic reaction that swells and closes off the airway and requires a dose of epinephrine to save the person’s life. But this no reason to advocate for killing bees. Bees don’t wake up in the morning and think, “I’m gonna go sting some humans today.” Not even the more aggressive Killer Bees. Bees sting as a defense mechanism, just as snakes and other creatures do when confronted, and scared. If you don’t want to get stung then simply admire the bees from afar.
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Honey Versus Sugar-Which is Healthier?https://www.uaex.uada.edu/counties/miller/news/fcs/herbs-spices/Honey%20Versus%20Sugar-Which%20is%20Healthier.aspx
The Bee Conservancy. Protecting Bees, Building Habitat, and Strengthening Communities Together. https://thebeeconservancy.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu8u8mNLw9gIVLxmtBh3aggjbEAAYAyAAEgLFO_D_BwE
Mayo Clinic. Can honey lessen seasonal allergy symptoms? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/expert-answers/honey-for-allergies/faq-20057927#:~:text=Honey%20has%20been%20anecdotally%20reported,may%20have%20anti%2Dinflammatory%20effects.