For the Love of Honey

Just a spoonful of honey....

Just a spoonful of honey….

We have a very clear love/hate relationship with honey at our house. As my daughter so eloquently explained yesterday, “I love honey. It tastes so good. But it is really bee spit and that’s just gross.” Because my daughter is also allergic to bee stings, she has an amazing aversion to the little guys, the kind that elicits screams of hysteria and lots of huffing and puffing and body movement when they fly nearby. Of course, when we went to the garden store this weekend, we were careful to buy flowers that would attract bees to our vegetable gardens. Without bees, our gardens will produce very little. And while at the garden store, the kids were eager to sample the honey varieties for sale. Locally harvested, the honeys were organic, raw, and delicious. According to our pediatrician, it is good for our seasonal plant allergies to eat local honey. The rawness of the honey means there is still pollen in it thereby allowing our bodies to build up antibodies (immunity) to the very things to which we are allergic.

Honey reportedly is a healthier alternative to sugar. Reports suggest that because honey is a combination of glucose and fructose (as opposed to the sucrose found in table sugar), it is easier on the body’s digestion system and reportedly provides a longer, slower energy release, which is good for athletes and even for those who are dieting. Honey contains some trace vitamins and minerals, more so than table sugar, and is commonly said to contain high levels of antioxidants. Similarly, honey is often claimed to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s commonly used as a cold remedy, such as soothing sore throats and coughs. How many of us have taken a spoonful of honey mixed with lemon juice when we’re feeling raspy and hacky! But of course, honey is high in calories and it would take eating a lot of honey in order to meet any of your daily requirements of vitamins and/or minerals.

As a sweetener for tea, however, it is delightful! We’re used to the honey in the bear bottle… clover honey. But beekeepers are getting crafty with the honey they encourage. By placing beehives in certain areas, beekeepers can limit or direct where the bees are feeding, thereby creating different flavored honeys. Lavender honey is distinctly lavender tasting. Honeys can have the heat of a hillside covered in sage on a sunny Greek isle or the floral richness of a rose garden. IMG_0558And each honey imparts that flavoring to your cup of tea. Not all teas require sweeteners, but certainly the more robust blacks benefit from a taste of the sweet. Just a teaspoon of that amber liquid gold makes a cup of tea a true cuppa!

IMG_0572And with spring around the corner and with the blooms that are filling the trees, it’s time to start watching for the bees. Their buzzing, while fear-inducing to some, is in fact the sound of summer! Summer means ICED TEA! And more honey! Enjoy!

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