Links to more information

Following are links to web sites about bees and beekeeping. Some will be primarily of interest to other beekeepers; others contain general information, recipes and other features of consumer interest.

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frequently asked questions about honey

What's in honey?
Honey is primarily composed of fructose, glucose and water. It also contains other sugars as well as traces of enzymes, minerals, vitamins and amino acids.

How many different forms of honey are there?
Most of us know honey as a sweet, golden liquid. But, in fact, honey can be found in a variety of forms. Free of visible crystals, liquid honey is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, it's especially convenient for cooking and baking. Most of the honey produced in North America is sold in the liquid form. While all honey will crystallize in time, creamed honey (also known as whipped honey, sugared honey or spun honey in the U.S.) is sold in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter. In many countries around the world, creamed honey is preferred to the liquid form. Less common is comb honey that comes as it was produced—in the honey bees' wax comb. The comb, as well as the honey, is edible.

Is all honey pretty much the same?
Not at all. The color and flavor of honey differs depending on the bees' nectar source (the blossoms). In fact, there are more than 300 unique kinds of honey in North America, originating from such diverse floral sources as clover, alfalfa, canola, sunflowers, fruit trees, blueberry bushes, wildflowers and in the U.S., eucalyptus and orange blossom. In general, lighter colored honeys are mild in flavour while darker honeys are usually more robust.

What are the health benefits of honey?
Research has shown that unlike most other sweeteners, honey contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. Honey, a rich source of carbohydrates, provides a quick source of energy. Honey’s unique composition makes it an effective antimicrobial agent, useful for treating minor burns and scrapes, and for aiding the treatment of sore throats and other bacterial infections. Honey contains about 130 calories per two tablespoons (30 ml), a little more than sugar and other sweeteners. But you need less honey to get the same sweetening power as refined sugar.

What is the best way to store honey?
Always store honey at room temperature away from excessive heat. Keep it in the cupboard or pantry. Better yet, keep it on the table or countertop, ready to stir into tea, spread on toast or drizzle on cereal. Do not store honey in the refrigerator because excessive heat or cold will cause honey to crystallize. If your honey crystallizes, place it in boiling water for two to three minutes until it returns to liquid. You can also microwave 1 cup (250 ml) of honey in a microwave safe container with the lid off, on high for two to three minutes or until the crystals dissolve. Stir every 30 seconds, and do not boil or scorch. Honey darkens with age but retains its flavour. It is best to consume honey within one year after opening the container.

What adjustments do I need to make to use honey in baking?
When substituting honey for sugar, reduce the liquid in a recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used and increase baking soda by 1/2 teaspoon for each cup of honey. Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees F (15 C) to prevent over-browning. Honey has a higher sweetening power than sugar because of its higher fructose content. This means you can use less honey to achieve the desired sweetness.

What about honey sticking to utensils?
Here are some ideas for easy measuring and quick clean up: Lightly oil the measuring cup or spoon before adding honey, and the honey will slip off easily. If your recipe includes oil and honey, measure the oil then use the same measuring cup or spoon to measure the honey. Place honey in a plastic squeeze container for measuring small amounts or for drizzling. Sunshine Valley liquid honey is sold in just such a container. And finally, warming honey slightly makes it easier to pour and measure.

Is honey suitable for babies?
No, your baby's tummy isn't ready for honey. Do not add honey to your baby's food, water or formula; do not dip your baby's pacifier in honey, and do not give your baby honey as medicine. Honey may contain bacterial spores that are common and may also be found in dust, soil and uncooked foods. Adults and children over one year of age are routinely exposed to these spores, but are normally not affected by them. However they can cause infant botulism in very young babies. The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. has stated that "the safety of honey as a food for older children and adults remains unquestioned."

Are bees really "busy as a bee" when making honey?
They sure are. Honey is "manufactured" in one of the world's most efficient factories, the beehive. Bees may travel as far as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey. But they do more than that. Honey bees perform a vital second function—pollination. About one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants, and honey bees are responsible for 80 percent of this pollination. Pollination is the fertilization of a flowering plant. It occurs when pollen is transferred from the anthers of a flower to the ovules of another flower. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and more.

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