July 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Check out this cool video about the bees at the White House.
Making honey (according to a friend who owns a few hives of her own) isn’t all that difficult, just time-consuming. The process is broken down into 4 parts:
Set up your beekeeping equipment: Of course, you’ll need a hive from which to harvest the honey. An important consideration is your safety; there is a reason why beekeepers wear head-to-toe protection when dealing with honey bees. Make sure you have the proper beekeeping supplies before getting started. You can usually find beekeeping equipment online or even at your local gardening or hardware store.
Harvest the honeycombs: The honeycomb is kept in chambers above where the eggs are laid and cared for. These areas are actually easier to remove from the hive than other sections, which is good news for those harvesting the honey. You can eat the honey right from the combs, but most serious beekeepers and honey enthusiasts process the honeycombs and bottle the honey. When honey is used straight from the honeycombs, it is called “comb honey”, while honey that has been processed is called “liquid honey.”
Clean the honeycombs: There are caps over the honey in the honeycombs. These will need to be scraped off each side of the honey frames before harvesting the honey.
Extract the honey: There are special extracting machines to extract the honey. They spin the frames of honeycombs until he honey drips down, into a tank of unprocessed honey.
This got me wondering, what’s the difference between organic honey and regular honey? For honey to be certified organic, the manufacturer has to meet a set of very stringent organic standards and conditions during the honey production (set by an organic agriculture certification body), which include source of the nectar, honey bees foraging area, bees management, honey extracting process, transportation, processing temperature and packaging materials. Honey that claims to be organic is also tested to guarantee that it does not contain any residues of pesticides or environmental pollutants. Farming of organic honey has to meet rigorous and extensive monitoring and testing criteria of the certification body, for instance, the documentation of, and consultation with every land user within a five kilometer radius of the organic hives to ensure they are free of chemical residue; regular analysis and testing of honey samples; and hives have to be proven free of non-organic honey, sugar and antibiotics. Other than the reason that organic honey is a healthier choice, some ardent consumers of organic foods also feel that honey produced by organic farmers has a more superior taste than conventionally produced honey, and hence are more ready to pay for the extra cost.
There are over 20 varieties of honey and they can all be seen here. I’ve seen many different types at the local Farmer’s Market, sheep and wool festivals and town fairs. Honey is a great alternate to sugar and can be great for baking, in hot drinks and drizzled over vanilla ice cream.
A while back I wrote about the benefits of honey. It can be an antiseptic, antioxidant and cleansing property, good for the skin (many cosmetic companies use it in their ingredients, especially for lip balm and hand solvent), healing properties as a head-to-toe remedy from eye conjunctivitis to athletes foot. Its powerful healing attributes have been used for thousands of years and known to promote healing for cuts, cure ailments and diseases, and correct health disorders. The renowned UMF Manuka honey, perhaps the tastiest natural medicine, is commonly cited in many discussions on health benefits of honey. This honey not only fights infection and aids tissue healing but also helps reduce inflammation and scarring. In addition, it is often used for treating digestive problems such as diarrhea, indigestion, stomach ulcers and gastroenteritis.
In honor of summer, check out this honey lemonade recipe from our friends over at Williams Sonoma:
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups steaming hot water
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- Ice cubes for serving
In a heatproof 1-quart pitcher or bowl, combine the honey and hot water and stir until the honey is dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice. Let cool for at least 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Pour into ice-filled glasses.