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The longevity and medicinal qualities of honey

Honey never goes bad - edible honey has been discovered in Egyptian tombs - and does good. If the infection you’ve got is resistant to antibiotics, then slay those bacteria with honey - consult your doctor first though.

Oh, and by the way, it tastes good too!

There are four main factors that together, give honey its longevity and its medicinal qualities.

1. Osmotic concentration –

Honey is made up of roughly four parts sugar to one part water. This is termed ‘supersaturated’ because it is holding more sugar than it normally could, which makes it unstable. It wants to return to normal, either by crystallising or by absorbing water.

If a substance absorbs water from its surroundings we say it is hygroscopic.

A bacterium needs water in order to survive. If honey is applied to a bacterium, the honey sucks the moisture right out of the bacterium killing it by dehydration. Honey has a long shelf life and the ability to heal wounds because any microbe that touches it becomes dehydrated.

Keep the lid tightly closed though, because if air can get in, then so can moisture. The honey will absorb the moisture and will gradually become less good at killing microbes, and it will ferment.

2. Acidity –

The pH scale measures acidity. Seven is neutral, ie. neither acidic nor alkaline.

Honey is acidic, measuring somewhere between 3.2 and 4.5, roughly the acidic equivalent of pickled onions.

Honey bees have a gland in their head called the hypopharyngeal gland. This gland secretes an enzyme called glucose oxidase which is mixed with nectar and honey. Through a series of chemical reactions hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid are produced. Gluconic acid will severely weaken, if not kill many micro-organisms.

3. Hydrogen peroxide –

The chief antimicrobial agent in honey is hydrogen peroxide which is also derived from glucose oxidase. It occurs at very low levels, but as a wound dressing, honey will deliver a sustained low dose of hydrogen peroxide which interrupts cell division and degrades bacterial DNA.

4. Specialised plant compounds –

A wide variety of plant compounds are antimicrobial to some degree. They are present in plants in order to protect the plant if it gets damaged in some way. The level of antimicrobial action varies from one plant to another and, as with humans, research shows that a wide ranging and varied diet leads to better health for the bees.

Personally, the taste is all I’m after.

Beekeeping for Beginners 2023

5th, 6th, 7th June (Mon, Tue, Wed)

16th, 17th, 18th June (Fri, Sat, Sun)

Contact Tamar Grow Local on 01579 208412

Beekeeping for Beginners

A 3 day course in beekeeping for beginners and novices

This course is made up of a combination of classroom studies and practical work in the apiary.

The aim is to provide the student with the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills to handle a colony of bees. On completion of the course participants should have the confidence to manage their own bees throughout the year.

Topics will include: the bee colony; hive types; equipment; setting up an apiary; the beekeeping year; swarming; pests and diseases; hive products and of course, the practical handling of bees.

Bee suits will be provided, but participants should be sure to bring suitable footwear such as Wellingtons or other boots. Gloves will also be provided but if participants want to provide their own, then Marigold type gloves are recommended.

Your course includes a 1 year membership to Tamar Valley Honey Co-op and a £10 voucher which can be redeemed against jars or sundries.

Our 2023 3-day beekeeping courses are taking place on:

· 5, 6 & 7 June (Mon, Tues & Wed)

· 16, 17 and 18 June (Fri, Sat & Sun)

£165.00 including VAT

Please contact us at or 01579 208412 for further details and to register your interest.

Thank you.

Dale Wood (Kit Hill BKA)


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