Honey is more than a delicious, sweet treat. Despite the high sugar content—one tablespoon of honey has seventeen grams of sugar—honey is a nutritional powerhouse packed with antioxidants and micronutrients. Raw honey contains antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory effects that can be beneficial in protecting against several physical conditions. Raw honey is also a natural cough suppressant, and when specially sterilized, it helps heal burns and wounds.
In 2017 PubMed published research on the health benefits of raw honey that said, “Flavonoids and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, are two main bioactive molecules present in honey.” It said because of the antioxidants in honey, it has protective effects for the treatment of diseases of respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and nervous systems as well as diabetes mellitus and cancer. In conclusion it said honey could be considered a natural therapeutic agent for various medicinal purposes.
In layman’s terms, the study states that honey has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties that can be used in practical medical applications for everything from cuts to coughs. Some experts have speculated that honey may help with allergy relief; however, the evidence has been sparse and based mostly on anecdotal evidence. Nonetheless, the anti-inflammatory effects of honey could help relieve allergy symptoms simply because allergies are caused by an inflammatory response.
Yes, honey is good for us, but its producers are also essential to agriculture. Honeybees pollinate the majority of cultivated crops. Almost one-third of the food we eat requires insect pollination. Globally three out of four species of cultivated crops rely on animal pollination, with honeybees responsible for the majority.
Blueberries, cherries, and almonds all require insect pollination. In the United States alone honeybees annually contribute about $20 billion to the value of crop production. In addition manufacturers use the wax and propolis (also called bee glue) to make candles, cosmetics, and a variety of health products. Honeybees are so crucial to the Georgia economy that legislators made them the official state insect in 1975.
Although raising honeybees takes commitment and the initial supplies can be expensive, here in Cherokee County apiaries abound, including Buzzin’ Buddies Bee Company, Weeks Works, and Bobbee MacBee’s, an award-winning veteran-owned apiary, all in Ball Ground; Emerald Hive and Honey of Acworth; and Cloer Honeybee Farms in Woodstock.
Honeybees make honey from plant nectar and store honey in the hive for use as food. A responsible beekeeper harvests only the excess. A beekeeper can get about fifty pounds (4.2 gallons) of honey each year from a healthy colony, but the yield can change from year to year and by location.
How to Collect Honey
The process to collect and extract honey is simple but labor intensive, and keepers must be sure not to take too much or harm the bees.
The process goes like this:
- Beekeepers make hive boxes called honey supers, which contain frames of preformed honeycomb. The bees fill each comb with honey and seal it with wax, at which point it is ready for harvesting, usually mid to late fall in Georgia.
- Most beekeepers use a fume board, an extractor that helps remove the bees from the honey supers. It usually contains a nontoxic solution that bees dislike. Keepers place the fume board on top of the super. After a few minutes the bees move away from the smell and leave the honey super, which allows the keeper to remove the honey with as little fuss as possible. Beekeepers also might use a smoker to pacify the bees, but they use caution; too much smoke can affect the honey flavor.
- After removing the honey, beekeepers use a hot knife to cut the wax cappings off the cells of the honeycomb. The wax cappings, known as beeswax, can be used to make candles and other items.
- A honey extractor allows the beekeeper to reuse the frame. A manual or motorized extractor uses centrifugal force to separate the liquid honey from the comb without destroying the comb.
- Folks who want to go old-school or don’t have the proper equipment can cut the honeycomb out of the frame, crush it, and strain it through cheesecloth.
- After straining, the honey settles for a few days in a closed container, after which the honey is ready for bottling.
Why Buy Local Honey?
In addition to supporting local businesses, buying local raw honey gives you a delicious treat and many health benefits that pasteurized honey doesn’t have. Local honey has unique flavors that grocery-store brands can’t match. One warning: people with sensitivities to bee stings may find allergens in raw honey.
Buying local honey reduces pollution and saves resources, and more importantly, when you buy honey from a local beekeeper, you are helping local businesses and supporting local farms that rely on insect pollinators to produce food. Local honey may be more expensive, but it’s worth the buzz.
Where to Find Local Honey
Weeks Works products are available at Publix on Highway 92 in Woodstock and on Holly Springs Parkway in Holly Springs. Cloer Family Honeybees products are available at M&M Mercantile at The Mill on Etowah in Canton. Bobbee Macbee’s products are used at Bizarre Coffee in Canton (and its Woodstock location opening in the fall). RockSolid Brewing Company of Ball Ground previously used Bobbee Macbee’s honey to make a special brew. Buzzin’ Buddies Bee Company products are used at Barrel House Coffee Co., Wilkes Meat Market, Clayton Homestead, and Ball Ground Barber Shop, all of Ball Ground. Emerald Hive and Honey products are available at Busy B Plant Supply in Acworth.
Local Farmers Markets
Historic Downtown Acworth Farmers Market
Logan Farm Park, Acworth
Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to noon
Open through October 27
Farmers Market at River Church
2335 Sixes Road, Canton
Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The Mill on Etowah, Canton
Tuesdays, 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Open through October 24
BridgeMill Farmers Market
BridgeMill Athletic Club, Canton
Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Open through early November
Farm Fresh Market
Market Street, Downtown Woodstock
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to noon
Open through December 30
Save The Honey Bee
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Shannon is a writing and editing evangelist. She has been creating content of all types for over a decade in subjects that run the gamut from literature to politics to sports.