Mopani Pharmacy had a chat with raw honey experts from Quercus Raw Honey, husband and wife, Marius and Carla Brundyn. They shared their knowledge on all things honey, and why you might want to opt for the raw variety in your daily diet.
Q: Tell us the difference between raw and commercialised honey?
A: Honey that is raw, unprocessed, unpasteurized, and straight from the beehive, is what we call raw honey. Commercialised honey is filtered, heated (pasteurised) and may contain by-products.
- Raw honey contains pollen, pieces of beeswax and propolis within the honey. These all contribute to it’s immune-boosting properties and high vitamin and mineral count. One could argue that a spoon full of raw honey is a dose of natural multivitamin.
- Commercialised honey is always filtered to get that ultra-smooth texture. This takes out all the pollen, beeswax and propolis. Pasteurising it destroys its vitamin and mineral value. In the end, processed honey and golden syrup are about the same in nutritional value. It is basically just sugar.
- The bottling process always involves heat, as it is mass-produced and moves very quickly.
- Raw honey on the other hand, will always be a hand-harvested and hand-bottled process. This is why it costs more than commercialised honey.
- Some honey is advertised as raw but will have gone through some process like pasteurising. Always make sure by reading the label of the product.
- Raw honey is by no means cheap, but it really is the quality you want.
- Always buy local raw honey as it will contain pollen indigenous to your area, therefore help you fight allergies to pollen in the air. Imported honey has to go through a radiation process when it enters the country, therefore rendering it the same as commercial honey.
Q: How does the honey industry influence the environment?
A: We have a symbiotic relationship with farmers. We move our bees a couple of times per year, and they stimulate the plant growth in each area. The bees fertilise the crops which allows for healthier harvests. We have seen a farm go from two tonnes of harvest to six tonnes in one year, simply due to the added bees. Different types of crops will also produce a different flavour in honey. We typically move our bees with the seasons to make sure they survive through winter months. Sugar cane needs constant watering to thrive, bees make due with very little!
Q: What is colony collapse?
A: Colony collapse means something different to every country. In other countries, disease and parasites are wiping out colonies. In South Africa, it is a very personal problem to beekeepers. They are the only ones who can prevent it. This is because in South Africa, there are two subspecies of honey bees, with one that is local to the cape area. This specific type of bee can end up in Mpumalanga and infiltrate our local hives. Due to their pheromone strength, they can confuse the rest of the bees and throw off everything, causing colony collapse. When we discover an infiltration like that, we are forced to kill off the entire hive.
Q: How can we help to aid our buzzing buddies thrive?
A: You can plant a variety of plants that are bee friendly. If they are not nesting in your garden, they have no reason to be aggressive. They will make use of your plants as food and move on. You can also place pebbles in your bird bath so that bees can land there and have a water break. There are many plants that are bee friendly, you can consult any nursery to assist in choosing a few that will suit the layout of your garden and the level of watering you are able to do. Gum trees are known to take a lot of water but are actually perfect. If you make sure that they are not planted right next to a stream, they will take as much water as you give them and thrive anyway. These trees are great because they provide a fantastic food source during winter months to bees and other animals. It also makes for a delicious honey!
If you are not keen on planting a tree, perhaps try some aloes. They also bloom in winter. During summertime, opt for a variety of colourful, open flowers.
Q: What do I do if I have a bee-hive in my garden?
A: You can reach Marius on 072 113 8472. He will be able to assist with contact information to someone who can remove the hive safely, closest to your location. Bees needs to be moved at night time to make sure that they are calm and that the least number of bees are lost.
Q: What other benefits are there to going raw?
A: There are so many things you can do with it!
- Diabetics, cancer patients and those with compromised immune systems are encouraged to use raw honey.
- It can replace sugar in many ways.
- You can use it as a shampoo or face treatment.
- It works wonders in aid of wound healing (injuries and bedsores)
- Raw honey can be applied to sunburn areas to soothe the skin
- It is antibacterial
Read more: Is sugar a friend or a foe?
Q: How much can you consume in a day?
A: It is funny, how your body tells you when you have had enough of something. With sugar, it does not. You can eat something sweet and then crave more and more. Honey does not work like that. Most people consume a maximum of 3 table spoons per day. That is when you start feeling like you have had enough.
Most people who are allergic to honey, are allergic to bees. But not all who are allergic to bees, are allergic to honey. If you are scared, try starting with a small amount and increase daily until you have the amount desired. If you have any reaction, use an antihistamine and contact your doctor immediately.
Other than that, you should not have any side effects to using raw honey.
For more information, visit: quercushealth.co.za!