Did you know honey bees are responsible for over 35 percent of the foods you eat, as well as the honey you enjoy? Honey bees are vital to the health of the planet and to the food chain, as they’re necessary for pollinating more than 90 food crops including fruits, vegetables and nuts — plus alfalfa, which is used as feed for the livestock that supply our meat and dairy.
There are many ways to enjoy the fruits of the honey bees’ labor while also helping to support their habitats and ensuring they’ll be around for generations to come. The National Honey Board has partnered with registered dietitian Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, to bring you her favorite planet-friendly tips and ideas.
“Honey is one of my go-to staples because of its pure qualities and positive impact on crucial pollinators,” Michalczyk said. “I like to recommend honey to my clients who want wholesome ingredients they can feel good about consuming, without having to compromise taste — as honey is a flavorful addition to a variety of foods and beverages.”
Here are Michalczyk’s tips for enjoying and celebrating the hardworking pollinator.
1. Enjoy pollinator foods.
Honey bees pollinate plants and trees in all 50 U.S. states and are needed to pollinate over 90 crops. So the next time you’re eating apples, avocados, cherries, almonds or sunflower seeds, you can celebrate the fact that all of these foods are made possible by hardworking honey bees.
2. Sweat for bees.
Movement is key to a balanced life. Skip the pesticides in your yard and pull weeds by hand instead. Then make sure to plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden and yard. Get the whole family involved and let kids know which flowers are good for bees, so they’ll know to get excited when they see bees around in the future.
3. Expand your produce palate.
Pollinators, including honey bees, are responsible for 1 in every 3 bites of food that everyone eats, including many fruits and vegetables. Eating a wide variety of produce plays a role in enhancing the diversity of your gut microbiome, which has been reported to be good for your overall health.
4. Work in daily natural energy boosters.
Consider a midafternoon break with a cup of tea sweetened with honey. Green and black tea both contain beneficial antioxidants, and honey is a 100 pure pure and natural energy booster.
5. Make it Mediterranean.
Take a page from the popular Mediterranean diet and fill your plate with whole grains, lean proteins like fish, unsaturated fats, fruits and veggies — and use honey whenever possible. Honey is traditionally part of the Mediterranean-Style Dietary Pattern, as recognized in the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Try Michalczyk’s tasty recipe, which features honey and other foods that have been produced by the work of honey bees:
Honey Apple Flatbread
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
- 1 whole-wheat flatbread, pre-cooked
- 1 Honeycrisp apple (or any other favorite apple variety), thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pecan pieces
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Mix honey together with mascarpone or cream cheese until combined.
Spread a thin layer of the cheese-honey mixture on flatbread and top with apple slices, pecan pieces, pumpkin seeds and cinnamon, plus an extra drizzle of honey, if desired.
Makes 1 serving.
To celebrate National Honey Month this September, the National Honey Board has launched “Honey Saves Hives,” partnering with several U.S. companies that will each make a donation to Project Apis m., the largest honey bee nonprofit in the country. By purchasing participating made with honey products from these brands during September, you can help save the honey bees: Companion Baking, Justin’s, Lost Cause Meadery, Melle Water and Purely Elizabeth. Visit HoneySavesHives.com for more information.