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Honey has been consumed for more than 8,000 years, as evidenced by a Mesolithic rock painting showing two honey hunters collecting honey and honeycomb from a bee nest. In 2013, 1.7 million tons of honey was produced worldwide. In the United States in 2015, the overall honey market was estimated to be $555 million, according to Nielsen, up 9% from 2014. Sales of organic honey grew 32% in 2015, making it the primary driver for market growth. New York and Los Angeles were the two largest honey markets, with the Los Angeles market growing the fastest at 25%. The market for liquid honey remains the largest, while other forms also contribute. Seniors generally consume the most honey, and younger households are purchasing notably more honey than in previous years. Asians are the highest honey-consuming demographic.
Properties of Honey
Honey is composed primarily of fructose (about 38%) and glucose (about 31%). In addition, maltose, sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates are present. Honey possesses a distinctive flavor and attractive chemical properties. Other components in honey include vitamins, minerals, acids, pollen, and enzymes, which make it a unique ingredient.
One of the important properties of honey is its stability. It does not spoil over very long time periods. This is in part due to an enzyme found in the stomachs of bees. When the enzyme glucose oxidase mixes with the nectar it creates the by-products gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which contribute to honey’s acidity and antibacterial properties.
Honey Production Innovations
Honey production has become high tech as new innovations are made. Modern bee hives are designed with remote hive monitoring systems that enable beekeepers to remotely track and optimize honey production. The hives sit on scales that measure the hive’s weight, the key indicator of honey flow, enabling the beekeepers to harvest at the optimal time. Infrared sensors at the entry to the hive track the numbers of bees coming and going, as well as the brood temperature and humidity, enabling beekeepers to optimize bee breeding. Another recent invention is a commercial mobile extraction system that allows beekeepers to harvest and process 1.4 tons of honey an hour onsite, enhancing efficiency by 42%. These and other innovations are paving the way for a thriving honey industry in the years ahead.
Stats & Charts
Beekeeping is an important agricultural industry in Canada, producing honey and other hive products, and delivering valuable pollination services to farmers of orchard fruits, many berries, vegetables, forage, and the production of hybrid canola seed.
In 2017, AAFC estimated that the total annual economic contribution of honey bee pollination through direct additional harvest value was about $2.57 billion. When the estimated contribution of honey bee pollination to the production of hybrid canola seed is added, the total estimated contribution ranges from $4.0 to $5.5 billion per year.
Number of beekeepers by province
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By buying local raw honey, you support local beekeepers and their bees, and therefore the environmental health of your own town or city, as well as your own health. Unlike pasteurized honey, raw honey comes straight from the hive and is unheated, unpasteurized and undiluted, which means it retains all the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and delicious flavor.
As an added bonus, raw honey is a well known healing remedy for minor burns and abrasions, and can provide soothing relief for colds and flu. By buying only local raw honey, you help keep yourself and your local community healthy.
Bee City Canada’s mission is to inspire cities, towns, First Nations, schools, businesses and other organizations to take action to protect pollinators.
Ecologists and researchers interested in honeybees have started reaching out to citizens for help in huge research projects. You can provide vital information to these projects, all of which add to our knowledge of what we can do to help the struggling honey bee.