Due to increased stress in our society people are looking for alternative, more holistic ways to treat ailments, lose weight and upgrade their fitness. As a busy, stressed out culture, we want to feel better. In the US, we have so many choices when it comes to food. Eating healthy and choosing the right products for our diet has become increasingly important as it plays a huge role in our wellness.
Honey is not only great for our health, but the process of making it is also significant in production of other health foods. Below is a brief overview of honey, its history, and overall importance.
Honey use and production have a long way back to ancient times. Its use was first depicted in Valencia, Spain, by a cave painting which portrayed humans foraging honey at least 8,000 years ago. Honey was also depicted on many wall paintings in Old Egypt. The Ebers Papyrus dating back in 1550 BC has 147 prescriptions of honey in external applications.
A lot of fossil bees were found in amber throughout the Baltic Coast. They are considered to be the ancestors of today’s honey bee. The year 2006 marks the discovery of the oldest bee fossil in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar (Burma), considered to be 100 million years old.
All of these historical findings show that humans knew of honey’s many health benefits early on.
How Did It All Start In the US?
Beekeeping in the USA started back in the 1600s. This period marks the arrival of the first Europeans who colonized North America. They brought honey bees with them, and many quickly escaped and spread through the entire continent. The Native American Indians called these bees “the white man’s flies”. Before that time, only wild native bees, bird, mammals and other insects were responsible for pollinating the native flowers of the continent.
It is believed that beekeeping between the 1600s and the early 1800s was an occupation of local trade. Farmers and villagers kept just enough colonies in box hives to supply their own needs and those of friend, family, and neighbors.
Extracting honey has evolved a lot since the old days, from being kept for thousands of years in impractical and dangerous containers to being kept in the modern-day box hives with movable combs. In 1852, Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth of Philadelphia discovered bee space, allowing him to invent the first box-shaped hive with removable and reusable frames. Thanks to Langstroths’ invention, all American beekeepers today use this type of hive to house bees.
From Local To Commercial
The year 1864 is when the honey industry really started to take shape. Moses Quinby from the New York State was the first commercial beekeeper in the US. His livelihood depended on producing and selling honey. He built box hives in a manner that would allow him to remove combs of honey without killing colonies. After working with the movable comb hives, Quinby replaced all of his box hives, advising others to use the same method.
In 1865 the centrifugal honey extractor was invented, making it possible to produce large-scale extracted honey. Today’s bee smoker, used by beekeepers, derives from a pan containing freely smoking material. The smoke could be blown over the open hive to control bees efficiently. The protective bee veil evolved over time from pieces of coarse cloth that were wrapped around the head of the beekeeper.
Other Beehive Products
A lot of hive products are used in various industries. Pollen, royal jelly, and propolis are known for their use in nutritional and medicinal sectors. Beeswax is used for candle making, cosmetics, wood polish, and modeling.
The Overall Importance Of the Honey Industry
The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that in North America, 30% of the food humans consume is produced from bee-pollinated plant life. Pollination by bees is estimated to be worth around $16 billion only in the US. To paint a picture, people wouldn’t be able to enjoy their favorite fruits, vegetables or even nuts without bee pollination.
In order to contribute to the commercial pollination of food crops, beekeepers move across the US in order to pollinate our beloved blossoms of apples, peaches, blueberries, cranberries, citrus, strawberries and almonds.
In addition, bees are also important to meat and dairy production and consumption. They contribute significantly to other industries by pollinating clover and alfalfa crops that cattle feed on.
The honey industry in the USA has evolved a lot in the past years. As you can see, beekeeping is a noble pursuit that not only focuses on producing high-quality honey but also on bringing a contribution to existing crops. Its reach goes out towards the meat and dairy industries as well. Honey production and consumption plays a large role in our health and nutrition. Check out how you can incorporate honey into your daily wellness practice!