Honey is one of nature’s healthiest foods – a gift from the bees. Honey has strong antibacterial properties, can be a powerful immune system booster and is a quick energy giving food.
However, honeybees (and other pollination insects) are declining at an alarming rate due to factors such as pesticide, changing crop patterns and clearing of natural habitat.
If you are interested in this topic you may want to watch the excellent documentary “Vanishing of the bees” but here are some very basic tips to protect the honeybees:
As a consumer
1) Buying local honey means supporting your local bee keepers and enjoying a unique flavoured honey. Bees produce honeys with many flavours, colours and aromas. Each honey is as unique as the flowers it comes from. Most honey sold in Irish & European supermarkets (including some of the organic honeys!) are now “a blend of EU and non-EU honey”! Buying local honey reduces food miles and allow for a better traceability.
I am personnaly lucky enough to get honey from my uncle – a very small producer 😉 (1). However, here are two places where you can find Irish honey in Dublin: Fallon & Byrne and the Organic Supermarket.
2) When shopping, try to buy bee-friendly food such as organic food. Bees can be killed by pesticides sprayed on the crops. Organic farmland creates a healthier environment for honeybees and other pollination insects.
As a gardener
Gardens are an important environment for honey bees.
- You can attract them by encouraging wild plants to grow such as wild garlic, bluebells or dandelions. You can also easily incorporate a wide variety of flowering trees and shrubs into hedgerows.
- Plant flowers, trees and bushes that bees will forage on – This is also likely to improve your fruit crops 😉
- Early spring flowering plants are of particular benefit to the bees as forage is very scarce.
- If you have a bigger garden you may even consider becoming a bee keeper or just creating a bee hotel – Very good DIY tutorial available here.
Now that we have seen how to better protect the bees, here are three of my favourite honey recipes:
- Natural Remedy
Warm lemon water with honey is a fantastic sore-throat therapy: Honey has antibacterial properties and lemon is high in Vitamin C.
I use honey to make exfoliating lip scrub and scrub my lips on a weekly basis. Mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of crystallised/granulated honey – If you use run honey you need to add 2 tablespoons of sugar to this recipe. Apply a small amount of scrub on your lips and rub gently. Leave to sit for 1 min. and rinse off with warm water.
French dressing with Honey: 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon French mustard, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon honey, salt & pepper (optional).
Shake together in a jar or a small glass bottle and serve.
Do you know more honey tips? Or any tips on protecting bees and their habitats?
(1) I am hoping to visit him next week and to post some pictures asap.
(2) If you live in Dublin, check the Botanic Garden website. They often organise interesting free talks and walks on pollination, gardening, etc.