The little bee is among some of the hardest working creatures on Earth!
The pollination service they provide is vital for food production and biodiversity. In fact, if we no longer had bees, aside from the huge upset to our ecosystem, we would quickly lose the likes of apples, tomatoes, coffee and cocoa. Our crop production would be forced to switch to staple crops, rather than the more nutritious options. Currently almost two-thirds of the crops that feed the world rely on pollination by insects or other animals, and the bee provides us with an abundance of fruits, nuts and seeds of variety and quality.
Honey: A Pretty Sweet Deal
When we think of bees, we definitely think of honey too! This delicious golden liquid is full of goodness, and is a long and tedious process for the bees to create. Here at Evergreen, we always recommend buying honey that is ethical and if possible local, organic and raw. The properties of honey can change depending on the nectar the bee has extracted from various flowers. One of the most famous of these variants is of course Manuka!
Manuka Honey & Its Bee-nifits
Traditionally, Manuka honey was used for much more than sore throats. It was thought to be potent in treating wounds, and even in helping digestive issues. A ‘healing’ honey! It is made from the nectar of the Manuka tree, which is native to New Zealand and which has adapted to live in its challenging environment. This honey can only be made for a few weeks each year when the Manuka plant is in flower, and it differs in both texture and taste from the sticky and sweet honey we are used to. Instead, Manuka honey has a rich bitter-sweet flavour, and is creamy and smooth in texture. It also has a compound that sets it apart from those other honeys – methylglyoxal! We call this MGO for short. The higher the MGO of your Manuka honey, the ‘stronger’ it is – think of it as the benefits of Manuka becoming more potent.
Here in Ireland, we have 97 native species of bee (but no Manuka trees unfortunately). More than half of our native species have gone into huge decline since 1980. Two species are now extinct, and six are critically endangered. As we work to address the problem, it is most important that we recognise it exists, and become proactive to give bees the best chance we can. Then we can enjoy all the wonderful benefits that come with a local honey!