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Archies. “Sugar, ah, honey honey, you are my candy girl... and you got me wanting you!” sang The Archies, the animated cartoon group, and stars of ‘bubblegum’ pop. Success arrived quickly for this kind of saccharine music: a gold record in 1969, and week after week at the top of the charts in many countries around the world.
Bee movie. Honey is a great ingredient for a family afternoon at the movies: Bee Movie, released in 2007, is the animated story of Barry, a bee with a degree trying to escape his preordained destiny as a humble worker.
Cupid. The God of love in Greek mythology, Cupid fired arrows, which had been dipped in honey, at the hearts of those he wanted to make fall in love. He is often depicted trying to steal from beehives, and sometimes being chased away by swarms of bees angered by his thievery.
Diet. It might sound strange, but despite being sweet, honey can form the basis of a diet that helps you lose weight. The reasoning behind the so-called ‘hibernation’ diet says that in order to speed up the body’s natural metabolism, you should eat a couple of spoonfuls of honey each night before going to bed, causing the body to lose weight… while you sleep.
Ee Feng Gu. This spot lies in Malaysia, just a few miles from Kuala Lumpur, and deserves a visit from vacationers travelling in this part of the world. A kind of sanctuary, or homage to bees and the production of honey, at Ee Feng Gu you can walk amongst the flowers admiring the little flying insects, both real and fake, that cover the fauna everywhere. A video tells its story.
Flavours. The taste, color and perfume of honey depend on the kind of plants that the bees feed on when producing it. This is why it is said that there are as many varieties of honey as there are varieties of plants and flowers in nature. These can be divided into two large families: the monofloral family, produced from single species, and the polyfloral (‘millefiori’) family of honeys, which are distinguished by area (for example mountainous regions) and by season of production.
Glass. Glass isn’t just the best thing to keep honey in. This nectar can also be enjoyed in liquid form, in a glass, with the addition of alcohol: many excellent honey beers are produced around the world, along with mead - a kind of honey wine that the Celts were very fond of. Shot glasses of honey-flavored grappa and liqueurs can also be enjoyed. One of the best honey cocktails is the ‘mojito ron miel’, based on honey rum from the Canary Islands.
Hangover. Honey is conducive to evenings spent in the company of friends, offering a good excuse to drink one glass too many. If you then find yourself in the grip of a bad hangover, toast spread with honey is a good way of settling the stomach, quickly getting rid of any toxic substances remaining in the body.
Indian honey badger. Careful you don’t cross paths with the Honey Badger, which lives in India (but you find it also in Africa and in the Middle East). No other animal can stop it: this little creature, which is very fond of sweet honey, will attack with extreme ferocity any living thing that it finds in its way. It can even survive bites from the poisonous snakes that it attacks and kills for food.
Jan Miel. Jan Miel (John Honey) was a Flemish ‘Bamboccianti’ painter. Despite his name, his subjects were not sweet at all: he loved to paint the prostitutes, merchants, gamblers, cardsharps, thieves and pimps of courtly life. The Bamboccianti school he was part of is famous and much loved for the very reason that it made these people its subjects.
Kit for apiculture. Keeping beehives in the garden is one of the world’s favorite hobbies, and a source of bucolic relaxation, much like growing plants on the balcony or gardening. Be careful of getting stung, however, as this can turn a passion into a bad accident. To start beekeeping from scratch, you need a good manual, 2 or 3 beehives, protective clothing and gloves. Start-up costs stand at around $400 to learn how to keep bees and to protect yourself, and $200 to buy your first beehive.
Lips. To get soft, kissable lips, try applying a little honey. And not just that: honey is also useful for curing infections of the airways, soothing coughs, and detoxifying the liver. It also acts on the kidneys as a diuretic, and for those who play sport it helps to improve physical strength and stamina.
Music. For a rhythmical, relaxing mix of music and honey, we can recommend the (somewhat ‘difficult’) Radiohead album ‘Pablo Honey’, John Lennon’s ‘Milk and Honey’, or Abba’s ‘Honey Honey’.
Nectar of the gods. Milk, wine or honey? These three have always competed for the title of ‘Nectar of the Gods’. Ambrosia, the purest form of honey, was however the elixir which gave the gods the gift of immortality, and made them incorruptible.
Orange flowers. As many different kinds of honey exist as there are fruit or plant flowers in nature. Orange flower honey, very sweet and with an unmistakable scent, is common above all in Southern Europe and in the hottest states of the USA. There are also honeys produced from flowering trees such as the apple, chestnut, avocado, cherry, Arbutus unedo (or cane apple) and almond.
Provence. The French valley of the sun and wind is famous for its lavender, thyme and rosemary honeys. On spring nights Provencal beekeepers gear up for a special kind of relocation: after the bees have gone back to their hives for the night, the hives are moved from one location to another so as to follow the blooming of the plants from which the bees gather their nectar. The new position is chosen in the first light of dawn, when the bees wake up again and once more go on the hunt for flowers to pollinate.
Queen bee. The queen bee is the mother of all the other bees in the hive. She leaves the hive on sunny days for her mating flight, when she can mate with up to 15 drones, and then lay up to 2,000 eggs in one day. Her shrill call, which can be heard even from outside the hive, is a war cry aimed at other queen bees.
Recipes. Honey is the king of recipes, in that it can be used as an ingredient all day long. You can use it in muffins for breakfast, in caramelized chicken together with noodles or salad for lunch, as a sauce for adding flavor to vegetables, in carrot soup, and in an infinite variety of cakes and thirst-quenching drinks.
Sumerian. The Sumerians and Babylonians mentioned honey and apiculture in Hittite law as far back as 2100 BC… But even the Egyptians with their hieroglyphs also mentioned this nectar, while in Spain cave paintings depicting human figures collecting honey that date back to 7000 BC have been found.
Toddler. You shouldn’t give honey to infants under one year of age, as there is a risk it might contain the botulinum toxin, which their stomachs are not yet able to defend them against. Honey can be given to infants over one year old, however, as a snack, sweetener, in order to sure recurring coughs, or maybe in a cup of warm milk.
Ultra violet light. Unlike humans, bees can also see ultraviolet light. Every flower to be pollinated is, for them, a blazing mass of colors which are completely unknown to us. Their visual system is based on three colors, like ours, although while we can see blue, green and red, they can see blue, green and ultraviolet.
VIPs. The British Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable; the actress Scarlett Johansson; the late actor Henry Fonda; the singer Sting; the former wife of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (Veronica Lario): they all share a common passion for keeping bees at home. It is said that Henry Fonda gave his friends a jar of his famous, and delicious, ‘Henry’s Honey’ each year.
Winnie the Pooh. The world’s oldest cartoon bear, who turned 90 this year, is also the fictional character who loves honey the most: he’s never seen without his little pot of honey, which he dips into day and night.
X-rated. For Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke in 9½ Weeks, honey was a symbol of lust and pleasure, when generously spread all over the skin, along with ice, cherries, cream, and chili peppers. This was one of the most erotic scenes ever captured on the big screen, but is also one of the most repeated in households all over the world – to the delight of honey producers.
Yemen. Honey from Wadi Doan, in Yemen, is considered the world’s best, due to the rare, wild plants used in its production. Its price is prohibitive, however, at up to $100 per kilo.
Zinc. Along with copper, zinc is found in honey, albeit in modest quantities, together with a long list of other minerals (magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron) and vitamins.