Saturday, December 01, 2007

You really need Honey

Did you know there are more than 300 different varieties of honey here in the United States? Each with a unique flavor and color depending on the blossoms visited by the bee. Did you know that raw honey and bee pollen relieves allergy symptoms? sinus pressure? sore throats? can boost your immunity? and is a quick source of energy? By ingesting local, raw honey and bee pollen you build up a natural immunity to dust, mold and pollen. Bee pollen supplies protein, amino acids and B vitamins! Honey is naturally antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal and antibacterial and it never spoils!
Honey is gathered first by the female worker bee, which draws up the nectar with her long, tube-like tongue and stores it in her honey sac stomach. This is then flown back to the hive, mixed with a special enzyme and stored, while other workers fan the liquid with their wings--this helps to evaporate the extra water and thus thicken the honey.

Research has indicated that honey neutralizes acids in foods and in one's stomach as well. It is a mono-saccharide (or 'simple sugar') and since it is pre-digested by the bee, it requires no digestive changes before one's body can assimilate it: thus, it is *the* quickest source of energy for the athlete. Bacteria cannot live in honey, and this quality has led to its use as a dressing for wounds, ulcers, and even gangrenous tissue.

Dry skin? Honey can add softness and fresh beauty to the skin. Because of the hydroscopic qualities of honey, it causes the skin to hold moisture. Honey's unique water-drawing quality makes it a wonderful dressing for burns of all kinds thus it is the ingredient of many cosmetic preparations such as facial masks, cleansers, lotions, soaps and conditioners: an excellent moisturizing mask is made from beaten egg whites and honey, for example. Flaky, dull completions can benefit from a light scrubbing with crystallized honeys gentle granules. Honey has been used as a healing aid for burns and scrapes since the days of Cleopatra. Honey is not just a mythological nourishment for the gods, actual Egyptian medical texts dating from 2600 to 2200 BC mention honey in at least 900 remedies. Many early cultures hailed honey for its sweetness, nutritional value, and its topical healing properties for wounds, sores, and skin ulcers. During wartime, honey was used as an antiseptic for wounds by ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Chinese, and modern Germans as late as World War I. Bacteria cannot live in honey, and this quality has led to its use as a dressing for wounds, ulcers, and even gangrenous tissue. Honey is *the* quickest source of energy for the growing child, athelete, or health conscious adult. Today, people use honey for cough preparations, to induce sleep, cure diarrhea, and treat allergies and asthma. Many kinds of honey are high in hydrogen peroxide, a common household disinfectant and kills bacteria. Honey also contains propolis, a compound in nectar that can kill bacteria.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Honey Holidays

The Holidays are Coming! and we are getting lots of request from our cheese shop customers for honey, especially our delicious honeycomb. It seems the world has caught on that Red Bee® Honey pairs well with cheeses and wine. Could it be that honey has finally earned a reputation as a gourmet worthy artisanal food? It's always been that way in Europe.
I have presented many Honey Tasting events in store but now it has taken a life of its own. The shop owners are crazy for Red Bee® honey and we're overjoyed.

So for those of you who have entertaining plans for the holidays and plan to include cheese and wine, try a little honey to perk things up. We suggest featuring honeycomb as the centerpiece of your next cheese platter. We prepared our own platter with a chunk of fresh honeycomb in the center. We garnished it with fresh pears, brie cheese, sliced almonds, grapes and water crackers but you could be more creative and add your decadent combinations, how does figs and honey sound? There is no way you could go wrong. Your guest will be thrilled to try cheese with honey not to mention great dinner conversation.

For more cheese, wine and honey pairings, visit our recipes pages.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Honeybee Trend Report

Hold onto your hive covers, the honeybee and her products are going to rule the mainstream consumer…
Finally here it is….the honeybee trend report 2008!

A visit to the NY International gift fair and the Extracts cosmetic trade show in New York introduced me to quite a few companies from exotic places like Japan, Africa, India, China and Italy manufacturing and marketing honeybee related products here in the US. Hold on to your hive cover, the honeybee is here to stay and her wonderful image and products from the hive are going to rule the mainstream consumer! It became clear to me when working in Asia and Europe that the honeybee had a rich history in the visual arts and have always had a special place in the natural cosmetics and skin care industries. Honeybees adorned the interior murals within the walls of the Vatican and Napoleon adopted the honeybee as his icon for all his Empire style design and architecture. The Chinese are known for their Tiger balms made with beeswax and their honey loquat cough syrups. Now, far-away manufacturers are realizing the enormous appeal that the honeybee holds and the US consumers quest for fancy wares, health and beauty products. I found novel and intriguing merchandise out there in trade show land featuring products from the beehive and many companies have actually branded or displayed the honeybee icon on their labels and even a photo of an old fashioned bee skep. As I browsed over the many different bee themed goodies, I did mention to a few of the sales people that I was actually a beekeeper. A few didn’t know what that meant and others were absolutely intrigued. I came to the conclusion that none of these manufacturers are actually keeping bees and I think it would be a great sales approach if the consumers were educated on the benefits of the honeybee, what exactly are products from the hive and how each ingredient is beneficial to humans. Lets go to the showroom floor for a peek……

One of the most interesting new products that caught my attention was from a company in Japan called ProHerb. Although all of their labels are completely written with Japanese characters, there were charming illustrations with honeybees on a honeycomb and whimsical drawings of herbs in what we on the eastern side of the world may consider lovely, but chaotic design sensibilities. Honeybees were displayed on large posters throughout the booth. As a designer myself, I must confess that I tend to chose products by the attractive packaging and design but in the end, I truly judge it by the actual quality of the product….honest! The main ingredient featured in ProHerb’s product line was miraculous propolis, appearing in all sorts of skin lotions and potions that can give just about anyone that natural honeybee glow!

My next visit was to the African Dawn Trading Co‘s booth where I was treated to handsome samples of Redbush and honey soap. Redbush is an herb found in South Africa and has gained popularity as an herbal drink, now it has been combined with honey and essential oils to create a tantalizing combination of natural soap to help us ….yes, relax. African Dawn did not feature any indication of honey or the honeybee on any of their labels; one would have to read the ingredients to know there was honey in their sweet smelling soap. Nevertheless, I was assured that honey from Southern Africa was inside each bar of each of these handmade goodies.

The Italians have been making honey, pollen and beeswax skincare for ages and a distributor named European soaps is bringing all the loveliness of Italy and the honeybee right here to our doorstep. The many skin care collections they distribute contain honey, beeswax and propolis. One line called Midani Erbe had a honeybee pattern across all their containers and although the labels are written in Italian one would know by the well-designed honeybee logo and the word propoli that these creams were made with illustrious honeybee propolis. Their hand-milled soaps are made with real beeswax and feature scents like lettuce, chamomile and carrot with a bee skep patterned wrapper. Another product, Honey dust by Kama Sutra looked like an after shower powder packed in a typical powder dispenser. This product is well scented with honey for your powdering pleasure but there was no indication of a honeybee on this label.

Out of India I spotted a manufacturer of cosmetics that included honey, beeswax and unusual essential oils. One product was called Protectors; it was to be used externally as a sun block to shield the skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Beeswax has been touted as a natural sunscreen with a SPF factor of 15. This company used honey in almost every one of their hand creams and lotions. Here, honeybee labels did not draw me to this product but the genuine use of honey, beeswax combined with essential oils is the type of quality I would look for in a product.

Honeybee drinking cups, anyone? I admit my own weakness for an attractive honeybee pattern gracing an exquisite line of porcelain mini trays, cups and boxes. Manufactured in China by a company named HomArt, these well-designed gahtcha-dels, as my Italian family would refer to needless knick-knacks, stopped me in my tracks. Ravished in sophisticated color and a textile style pattern, these items would impress any beekeeper with a serious decorating flare. This was another well-designed product using the honeybee icon and gets my design approval.

The bee all and end all were the fantastic beeswax candles manufactured by Honeycomb lights in SC. These hand rolled gems were configured into amazing little beehive skeps. Each candle was presented like a fragrant treasure upon a tray made of glass, carefully wrapped and bejeweled with those mini plastic honeybee tacks beekeepers constantly search for. They appeared good enough to eat. A wide variety of sizes and shapes were available for that special beekeeper in our life. This booth also sold umbrellas and embroidered pillows adorned with a honeybee icon. I could not help to notice the bee skeps hanging from the display walls and the hive theme displayed throughout the booth. The pleasant aroma of the beeswax candles brought me right to my own bee yard. This booth was hard to walk away from but it was time to move on and explore the rest of the show.

Honeybee hand towels, garden pots, beeswax night creams and much more seemed to bee all the buzz for this seasons newly featured product trends. How can the average consumer possibly resist just one more beeswax mud mask or queen bee shower curtain, let alone a beekeeper? Only to add to the entire buzz about bees I couldn’t help but notice sprinkled among the showroom landscape, copies of the recent book “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. This popular book about how a runaway and her guardian end up on a bee farm ran by 3 sisters, contributed to the celebrated honeybee theme. The truth is honeybee design and products are catching on and we can bee sure to see more people buying everyday products with honeybee magnetism on them. I predict that the interest in actually keeping bees in the next few years is also going to become just as fashionable…..just you wait and see.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

How Much Honey?

Customers ask me, friends ask me and even strangers who meet me ask me, "How much honey do you actually eat?" How can I possibly answer such a question with a straight face? If anyone has visited Red Bee Cottage, they know that there is honey everywhere. Honey in the kitchen, honey in the basement and honey in the honey room. At this time of the year when we are bottling up our fall honey harvest there seems to be honey dripping on every surface (including the floor) and it's difficult not to be tempted into licking your fingers. Nature's goodness all around here and even the dog seems to like the drippings.

My favorite answer is, "I eat honey all day long", which is not far from the truth. Honestly, I do eat honey every single day and first I start out each morning with a spoonful of honey in my cup of espresso and a spoonful of honeycomb each morning for my sinuses, because it works. Then its off to work, bottling all that Red Bee Honey, So if you count all the finger licking after breakfast then my answer is the truth, "All day long".

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Red Bee Pollen

Bee Pollen can help relieve springtime allergies

Bee pollen is nature’s most complete food, rich in B vitamins, minerals, amino acids and a complete source of protein. An all-around nutritional supplement, bee pollen is ideal for daily use and is considered a almost perfect food.

Bee pollen is the pollen gathered by the female worker bee while visiting flowers. It is carried on her hind legs and they brought back to the hive for food. Bee pollen contains 22 amino acids, 27 mineral salts, vitamins, hormones, carbohydrates, and more than 5,000 enzymes and coenzymes necessary for digestion and healing. A little known fact is that bee pollen is also rich in the bioflavonoid rutin, important for capillary strength, and in vitamin B12. It is, in fact, one of the few vegetable sources of this vitamin.

Experiments reveal that bee pollen is an amazing biological stimulant with healing properties. Bee pollen may also protect against wind-borne allergens that cause hay fever and even asthma. By ingesting bee pollen local to the area you live, your body is building up a natural tolence to the pollen you breathe in the air. Thus, desensitizing your body to the pollen blowing in the air. Try this a few months before allergies season and you will see the difference.

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, believed that bee pollen contributed to long life. Bee pollen reportedly can keep the skin youthful looking. A number of Olympic athletes and prominent professional boxers have attributed their improved energy and stamina to a regular intake of bee pollen.

Bee pollen granules should be taken in small doses as your body become accostomed to it. It should be eaten raw with a spoonful of honey, peanut butter. It can be sprinkled over salad or cereal, added to smoothies or eaten as is.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Honey is different in Italy!

On my last trip to visit my family's home in Campania, I was greeted with a bottle of their own D'Amico honey. Each evening we would sit in the large gardens among the olive trees enjoying their own local honey on my cousin Maria's home baked bread. "E buono? E buono?" they would always ask only when my mouth was full. "E buono!" or it is good, I would answer with a huge grin. It was dark and sumptuous with a strong hint of blackberries. My great grandfather had planted those blackberries almost one hundred years ago and his honeybees are still gathering the nectar from those very same bushes.

Each honey has a unique flavor profile depending upon the type of floral nectar the honeybees forage. So bees who gather nectar from clover will make clover honey and lavender make lavender honey. So yes, honey IS different in Italy. "E buono!"