Honeybars to Save Honeybees
To celebrate National Honey Month all September long, we are giving 20% of every honeybar sold via our App to the Honeybee Conservancy (bonus: your entire App order will also get double points when you add a honeybar!) We had a chance to catch up with Guillermo Fernandez, The Honeybee Conservancy Director, to learn more about why the honey bee population is something we should all take very seriously.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself + what you do as the Director of the Honeybee Conservancy?
A: Hello! In addition to being the Director of The Honeybee Conservancy, a national non-profit, I’m also a Master Beekeeper candidate + a NYC beekeeper.
Q: Most people know that honey bees produce honey, but why are they so important + in need of conservation?
A: Did you know that honey bees are the only insects that create food eaten by humans? Not only that, but honey bees also help feed the world. One in three bites of food we eat depends entirely on bees—but the bees are dying out. Without bees to spread pollen, many of our favorite foods would disappear. If you like almonds, apples, berries or even coffee, pay attention because we’d lose up to 100% of those crops without honey bees. For an insect so small, but so crucial to one-third of the world’s food, it's disappearance would be devastating.
Q: What are some of the lesser known benefits of honey bees?
A: Honey can help relieve seasonal allergies. Honey oftentimes contains small amounts of pollen, which exposes + desensitizes your body to that allergen. I’m an allergy sufferer myself and can vouch that, once I began eating a tablespoon a day of local honey, my allergy symptoms vanished!
Q: What are the greatest threats to the honey bee population?
A: One of the biggest threats to honey bees is habitat loss, which is something we can reverse by planting flowering trees, bushes + other flowers. Honey bees are also threatened by pesticide use as well as pests and illnesses.
Q: What can the average person do to help? Beyond September being National Honey month, what can be done year-round?
A: We can each take easy steps to help the bees:
plant a pollinator pathway—one of the largest threats to bees is the lack of habitat; plant a bee-friendly garden to provide habitat + forage for local pollinators
don’t use pesticides—they can be toxic, not only to bees, but also to people
support your local beekeeper—buy local honey + other bee products
visit The Honeybee Conservancy’s website to learn about more ways how to save the bees
Q: How is honey produced? We know it is not ‘bee vomit’—which is the common misconception…
A: Honey is amazing. Only seven of the 20,000 bee species in the world can create this sweet liquid. Honey bees make this ‘liquid gold’ by collecting flower nectar, which goes into an extra stomach (aka 'crop') that only holds nectar. The nectar is partially digested in this honey crop by enzymes that add nutritional value. Once the honey bee gets back to the hive, the honey is placed into honeycombs, where bees fan their wings to evaporate out the water and create honey, which they store to eat later. Honey is mostly sugars like glucose, fructose + sucrose. There are also traces of minerals + floral compounds from the blossoms from where the bee took the nectar—and that’s what gives honeys their unique flavors.
Q: Why is local honey better than imported? (70% of honey consumed in the U.S. is imported)
A: Did you know there are over 300 different kinds of honey produced in the U.S.? Wine lovers are probably aware of the idea of “terroir”—that food picks up the flavor of an area’s soil and environment. Honey works the same way. Honeys taste different based on the soil + flowers in the area. With local honey, you can experience the unique flavors + colors of honey, all while supporting your local beekeeper who works hard to care for their bees.
Q: What are some of the nutritional benefits of honey? Can you tell us more about its ‘pre-biotic’ qualities + ability to fight seasonal allergies?
A: There’s fascinating new research shows that raw honey is a 'prebiotic'—a food that helps the beneficial microbes in our stomach flourish. Honey contains polyphenols, which support good bacteria + displace bad bacteria. This could lead to positive health benefits, such as better digestion + mental wellness. Honey has also been used for centuries to treat burns + wounds by accelerating healing, reducing redness + inflammation. Interestingly, my grandparents used to dilute honey with water and use it to treat eye + ear infections.