The beauty of bees

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Photo by Lauren Thomas

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Honey has been used for many millennia to delight the palette. The oldest sweetener known to man, it has also been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Packed with antibacterial properties, enzymes and anti-oxidants, it is an ideal natural medicine.

If sealed properly, honey can last almost forever, as proven by the discovery of honey in King Tut’s Egyptian tomb. In its raw form, it can be used to help build the immune system against allergies, provide a slow-releasing energy boost throughout the day, prevent bacterial infections, serve as a cough suppressant and balm to a sore throat, and treat burns topically.

Carol Clement, co-owner of Heather Ridge Farms in Preston Hollow, has been a beekeeper for more than 30 hives. She has extensive knowledge on the various health benefits of raw honey. She sells three types of raw honey: clover, buckwheat and wildflower.

Like Gardiner-born honey farmer Todd Widmark, Clement believes that local raw wildflower honey is the best preventive medicine for sufferers from seasonal allergies. “The wildflower honey contains a mix of pollen from all different flowers,” said Clement. “So if you’re allergic to say ragweed or goldenrod, you want to start taking it long before the wildflower season to help strengthen your immune system.”

Widmark, originally of Widmark Farms and now running Honey Brook Farms in Pine Bush with his wife, concurred. Not only does wildflower honey taste great, he said, but it contains a great mix of wildflowers to which many people are allergic. “That’s why it’s important to buy raw, local honey because if contains small doses of the flowers blooming locally that you may be allergic to.”

Buckwheat honey can be used not only as a natural sweetener but also as a cough suppressant. “Buckwheat honey suppresses a cough better than any cough medicine you can find in a drug store,” claimed Widmark. “It’s better than antibiotics, and it also coats a sore throat like most honeys do.”