Monday,16 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1245, (7 - 13 May 2015)
Monday,16 July, 2018
Issue 1245, (7 - 13 May 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Oh, honey, honey

It is the hour of an early morning in May! The warm wafts of air drive the remnants of a bitter winter, while gay sunbeams float on your window curtains with their thousand points of light. You breathe in the fresh spring breeze as you sip your morning tea and spread some golden honey on your crisp toast. Suddenly the buzzing of a bee makes you shudder and you hurriedly escape nature’s delights.

Did you ever stop to think of the myriad services this lowly creature offers mankind; that sweet honey you just savoured?

Of all the billions of insects on this planet, the bee is the only one that produces food for man.

The honeybee takes 10 million foraging trips to make the equivalent of one jar of honey (454g), which equals flying three times around the world. They make honey from the nectar they collect from flowers and plants. It is estimated that 80 per cent of our food we owe to bees which pollinate the crops.

In short, without bees, we would starve!   

May is the month when the hives are bursting with activity. The queen bee is positioned for her greatest rate of egg-laying. The nectar and pollen begin to flow thick and fast into the hive, and the beekeepers hope for a great harvest.

The story of honey is much more than it seems to be. It is the soul of field flowers, nature’s special gift to thankless man!

Aristotle called honey ‘the nectar of the gods’. Hippocrates used it as a base in all his medical formulations. Euripedes described his best-loved cakes as “steeped most thoroughly in the rich honey of the golden bee”.  

Favoured by the pharaohs as possessing special powers, bees were a symbol of royalty. The bee was the emblem of the King of Lower Egypt, (1st Dynasty, 3200 BC), symbol of the Greek goddess Artemis and the god Cupid whose arrows were coated with honey. Pope Urban V11 adopted the bee as his symbol and Napoleon’s flag and robe were embroidered with bees.

The ancient Egyptians used honey not only as a sweetener but as an embalming fluid and an offering to the gods. The earliest record of keeping bees in hives was found in the Sun Temple erected in 2400 BC near Cairo.

Homo- Sapiens evolved 50,000 years ago. Bees were making honey 40 million years before that. Their existence dates back 150 million years. Throughout recorded history their honey was valued not only as a sweetener, but for its medicinal properties. It was used as battlefield medicine from the time of the Iliad up to WWI.

Until the renaissance and the introduction of cane sugar, honey was the only sweetener known to man. Since the popularity of sugar it has been used less and less. Recently, earnest research has scientific evidence of honey’s healing benefits, only 4000 years late!

Now, the honeybee is probably the most studied creature in the universe, after the human race.

Honey contains fructose, glucose, maltose, sucrose, higher sugars and water, as well as Vitamins B6, C, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and trace batches of calcium, phosphate, potassium, iron, magnesium, sodium and zinc.

Bees live everywhere except in the North and South Poles. Every country makes its own varieties of honey… the US alone has 300. The highest producing honey-makers however are China, Turkey, Argentina, Ukraine and Russia, yet the largest consumers are Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

It would be an impossibility to list all the benefits and healing powers of honey, but we shall attempt to mention a few.

All that sugar turns you off, you say! Diabetics have lower blood sugar 45 minutes after eating honey, because unlike processed sugar or artificial sweeteners, it is very quickly absorbed into the body cells, instead of settling in the blood.

If weight is your concern honey again is a smarter choice than dietary sweeteners, which lack minerals and vitamins and draw up body nutrients to be metabolised into the system. When the nutrients are depleted, metabolising of cholesterol and fatty acids is impeded. In other words your cholesterol rises, promoting obesity because of the higher fatty acids on the organs and tissues. Out with saccharine, use honey instead. Honey contains 20 amino acids, a variety of minerals essential for its metabolism and hence prevents obesity.

Mix honey with some apple cider or lemon juice and the healing results are expanded. Lemon juice and honey in the morning is an effective cellulite treatment. Add cinnamon to that and you will lose faster. Apple cider vinegar and honey are cleansing agents, disinfectants, anti-biotic and antiseptics, fighting germs and bacteria. The powerful duo treats rheumatism, arthritis, indigestion, obesity, eczema and prevents urinary tract infections, colds, sinusitis, headaches etc… Rather than scoff, give it a try!

Feeling sleepless, a spoonful of honey will help or mix it with milk. Ready to exercise, a spoonful of honey boosts your energy and reduces fatigue. What more? Can it help fight cancer? It possesses carcinogen-preventing anti-tumour properties. Research studies point to its potential in the prevention and progression of cancer tumours.

Surprised? Research promises many more remedies from this naturally-healing elixir. 

Is it any wonder there is a special ‘sura’ in the Holy Quran on ‘The Bee’?

Hail to the power of the bee! Ravish its honey with joy!

It has much to offer to you… and to your honey! 

“The president ordains the bee to be immortal”

Wallace Stevens (1875-1955)

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