Story by Sarah Hoot
Would you bee-lieve me if I told you that honey can be used for more than just eating? Honey is mainly a sugar substitute, but it can do so much more than that. Honey doesn’t just appear on store shelves in little plastic bear bottles—it starts out as a sweet liquid inside of a flower.
Due to honey being a natural—and less processed—sweetener, it is healthier than refined sugar. This natural sugar can help people with diabetes by promoting good cholesterol, according to Kris Gunnars, founder and CEO of Authority Nutrition. It can also help reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks, and lower blood pressure.
There have also been reports of people using it to help treat allergies. “It’s not a silver bullet,” says Justin Vincett, owner of the Naneum Bee Farm.
“It doesn’t take it away like an antihistamine would or some of the other pharmaceuticals, but it does lesson it a bit and make it tolerable which is what people report.”
In my personal experience, I use it as a way to help soothe sore throats, coughs and as a way to help ease stomach aches. However, honey isn’t just a hack for healthier living—it can be a vital part of your bee-auty routine.
Back in January, I hosted a honey-themed party (complete with honey lemon tea cakes) to find out what people knew about the uses of honey and try out some face masks. Of the people who came to the party, most of them did not know that honey could be used for things other than eating.
“I kind of felt like there was something you could do beauty-wise,” says Kayla Browleit, a grad student studying social work. “I knew about health benefits. My brother has allergies so he takes local honey as a supplement.”
“I didn’t [know] just because honey is so sweet and has a lot of sugar in it,” says Eric Rosane, digital journalism senior.
Others had a lot of experience using it. Caterina Amsler, a freshman physics major, says her mother has a book of homemade recipes that included honey, and would try the recipes out on her because of her sensitive skin.
Together, we tried three different face masks made with honey and other ingredients. There were some mixed feelings during the process since the masks were very sticky and didn’t look very attractive, but once we took them off, we all noticed that the masks were very good at absorbing oil and exfoliating. In fact, honey is great at getting rid of dirt and impurities in your skin as well as removing dead skin cells, making it great for oily and acne-prone skin, according to Best Health Magazine.
Picture this: it’s a warm spring day. You are sitting outside enjoying the sunshine when you hear a small buzzing sound. Looking around, you see a small yellow and black bug flying from flower to flower. Bees are often synonymous with being busy—they work all day carrying pollen to different flowers and collecting nectar to bring back to the hive.
“A hive of bees will forage about 10,000 acres when we set it down,” says Vincett.
Once the bees finish spreading pollen and collecting nectar they head back to their hives, but their day doesn’t end there.
Here is how the honey making process works, as explained by Joe Hanson, Ph.D., a biologist and writer of the blog “It’s Okay to Be Smart.” The nectar the bees collect goes into their honey stomach, which then gets digested and later regurgitated once they return to the hive for another bee to consume. This process is repeated over and over and transforms the nectar into a simple honey.
To finish the process, bees spit the honey into a cell, blow air onto the honey using their wings and finally cap the cell with beeswax to let the honey age. Now the honey is ready to be eaten by the bees, humans and, in some cases, bears.
Vincett also states that the type of flower the nectar comes from affects the flavor of the honey. “Just like every flower smells different … like lavender doesn’t smell like rose. It’s the same with honey.”
During the interview with Vincett, the two of us tasted some of his honey samples. Each sample has a unique flavor depending on the weather conditions and time of year. Blackberry honey tends to be very sweet but buckwheat honey has a very strong sulfuric taste that is not for everyone.
According to Mother Earth Living Magazine, the first domesticated honey bees came to America with the early colonists. However, the domestication of honey bees dates back to ancient Egypt, and the use of honey dates back all the way to the caveman days. People in ancient Egypt, Greece and the early pilgrims all used honey as the basis for many medicinal remedies. Egyptians even used it as sacrifices to their deities and for embalming.
If you would like to get started using honey in your life, here’s a vital thing to consider: honey doesn’t go bad, ever.
“They have pulled it out of tombs in Egypt, 10,000-year-old honey that’s still edible,” Vincett says.
Honey will crystallize after a while but it can be returned to liquid by placing the bottle or jar in hot water (not directly on the stove). It is also important to bee-aware of the type of honey you are buying. Vincett states that some store-bought honeys are adulterated by syrups and heated up to make them shelf stable. Heating up the honey destroys the enzymes and many of the vitamins within the honey. Finally, when trying face masks, make sure that you are aware of your skin’s reactions. Don’t keep using it if it begins to burn excessively or you break out in hives.
Honey is an un-bee-lievable way to be a little healthier and more natural while not breaking the bank.
FACE MASK RECIPES
Honey and Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon baking soda
Cinnamon and Honey
2 Tablespoons of honey
1 Teaspoon of cinnamon
Honey and Strawberries
3 fresh strawberries (mashed)
2 Teaspoons honey