Do you love honey? If you do, you can thank the little bees for that … among other wonderful things!
The honey we know and love comes from nectar that’s secreted by plants and produced by honey bees. It has been around for about 8000 years and is an unfriendly medium for microorganisms to grow in which means that sealed honey doesn’t spoil even after thousands of years!
Other than being a sweetener for our food and drinks, honey is also a food source by the very bees that make it. Honey is the product of the collected nectar that has been regurgitated, digested and stored by bees. It becomes a food source when the weather becomes cold or when there is little food to be found.
Almost 30% of the human food supply depends on the pollination of flowering plants which is mostly done by both wild and domesticated bees. Pollinators are animals that help transfer pollen and seeds from one flower to another. This helps fertilise the plant so that it can grow the food that eventually ends up on our plate.
In addition to our dinner table, bees are one of the main reasons why our Earth is so beautiful. Without our busy buddies, there would be far less colourful flowers and variants of plants.
Sadly, due to factors like urbanisation, pesticide use, parasites and a decline in the beekeeping business, the numbers of honey bees have fallen. The rising global temperature has also increased the risk of the extinction of bees!
Honey bees have been kept in hives by humans for thousands of years by beekeepers who collect the by-products of the hive. This includes honey, beeswax, propolis, pollen and royal jelly.
In Malaysia, there are 33 species of stingless bees and 2 of these produce a kind of product called kelulut honey which is touted to be twice as nutritious as normal honey, according to the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute.
Bee keeping for commercial purposes has been encouraged to help rural Malaysians increase their income. In addition to being able to sell the hive products, the lovely bees also help the farmers pollinate their fruits and vegetables!
Due to the value, nutritionally and monetarily, of kelulut honey, there have been fakes spotted on the market so please do shop wisely.
What’s the first thing you think of when you see a bee? Most of us would usually avoid them because of the misconception that they will sting you! Granted, bee stings are very painful but honey bees that are looking for nectar or pollen will rarely sting unless they’re stepped on or being roughly handled. However, if the honey bee is at the hive and a threat is detected, they will definitely rev up their stinger to protect their hive.
If you are stung by a bee, it’s important to see a doctor to prevent any adverse reactions. It’s possible to be allergic to bee stings so do get checked especially if you’re a person who loves outdoor activities. People who are highly allergic to bee venom could suffer an anaphylactic shock which is a serious allergic reaction and could result in death.
Do not feed raw honey to children under the age of 2 years old due to possible botulism poisoning. It is also unadvisable to feed honey to people with a weakened immune system because there is the risk of bacterial or fungal infection. Honey is made from pollen so it’s best for people with pollen allergies to avoid honey.