There is a lot to love about honey. In A.A. Milne’s classic childhood book, Winnie the Pooh declares that he likes nothing better than a pot of honey—nothing except the moment just before you begin to eat honey. But really, we think it doesn’t get much sweeter than the amazing facts about honey below.
1. Honeymoons may be named for mead, an alcohol produced from fermented honey. Newlyweds were given enough mead to last for one full cycle of the moon, which was meant to increase fertility.
2. A worker bee will only make about one-tenth of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime. But that’s a fair amount considering their short life only lasts about 40 days.
3. Honey is one of the most environmentally friendly sweeteners. It requires considerably less energy and resources to produce than cane sugar, corn or beets—all of which require land, fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. Honey also requires less energy to process, since it doesn’t need to be refined.
4. Bacteria can’t survive in honey. In fact, in one study, medical-grade honey destroyed antibiotic-resistant bacteria in skin infections.
5. In ancient Egypt, honey was used a natural bandage. Since it contains a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, honey is a natural barrier against infection in wounds.
6. The flavour of honey is affected by where bees harvest honey from, but watch out: honey produced from certain flowers can be toxic. Honey produced from oleanders, rhododendrons, and azaleas may cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
7. Honey doesn’t spoil and is one of the few natural foods with an indefinite shelf life. That is, of course, provided that it’s in a sealed container. Left out too long in a humid environment, honey will go bad.
8. Honey was used by the ancient Romans to pay their taxes. We doubt it made the process much sweeter, though.
9. Although we identify honey as a “golden,” it can actually range in colour from white to dark brown. The darker the colour, the stronger the flavour.
10. Canada used to be the fifth-largest producer of honey in the world. Today, it’s not even in the top 10, but it’s still a big business—a $173 million business, to be exact. Over 8,000 beekeepers across Canada keep a total of more than 700,000 hives nationally. Alberta alone produced 40 million pounds of honey in 2012.
11. In ancient Egypt and the Middle East, honey was used for embalming the dead. After his death, Alexander the Great’s body was allegedly held in a honey-filled coffin for three years before they transported it to Macedonia.
12. Bees have been producing honey for up to 20 million years. But people have only been collecting it for about the last 8,000. Still, this makes it one of the oldest foods known to man.
13. In Hinduism, honey or mead is an elixir of immortality. In fact, in one ceremony, newborn babies are welcomed into Hindu families with a taste of honey.
14. A honeybee colony flies more than 88,500 kilometres to produce half a kilogram of honey. This means that they have to visit approximately two million flowers in the process.
15. The world’s most expensive honey costs $6,800 USD per kilogram. It’s called “Elvish” honey and is extracted from a 1,800-metre deep cave in northeastern Turkey.