The Buzz on Honey

Fascinating facts on honey, illustrated.

By Molly Mitchell

May 4, 2020

A close-up of bees clustered on a wooden spoon full of honey and wax.
Heifer project participant Iadeé Maria Tomalá Catuto holds a scraping of honey in Ecuador.
An infographic illustrating various facts about honey.
Click here to download our honey infographic


Use Honey For
  • Cooking:  Honey can act as a sweetener, flavoring, humectant (adds and retains moisture) and emulsifier (binds and thickens).
  • Salve: Ancient cultures used honey to ward off infections. We still use it to soothe coughs and sore throats.
  • Skin Care: Honey can clean and moisturize, making it a perfect ingredient for lotions, soaps and cleansers.
The Buzz
  • Some say the word "honeymoon" comes from an old tradition of giving brides and grooms a month’s supply of mead in hopes that the new couple produced a child within a year.
  • Honey is the main ingredient in mead, aka honey wine.
  • Because alcohol affects bees and humans in similar ways, researchers are studying drunk bees to learn how chronic alcohol abuse affects humans at a molecular level.
 Sundry Honeys

Monofloral honey comes from one type of flower, like clover, blueberry or sage. The flowers from which bees gather nectar affect honey's:

  • Texture
  • Taste
  • Aroma
  • Color
Beware the Honey Badger 

While it’s true they raid beehives for an occasional sweet snack, honey badgers are primarily carnivorous and are ferocious enough to overpower and eat venomous snakes. They just don’t care.

Sweet Beginnings
  • The earliest record of honey collecting is an 8,000-year-old cave painting in Spain’s Arana Caves.
  • Honey remained the sweetener of choice in Europe until the 12th century, when sugar was introduced.
  • The ancient Greeks believed bees bridged the gap between our world and the underworld.
  • Ancient Romans honored Mellona, goddess of bees and honey. Ancient Egyptians used honey to embalm their deadThey also packed pots of honey in tombs for people to carry into the afterlife.
Honey Keeping
  • Honey is extremely acidic—which means bacteria and organisms that typically cause food to spoil won’t grow in it.
  • Keep it sealed and honey can last for millenia. Expose it to humidity and it will spoil.