For the past eight years, I have been keeping bees with my dad, and it has been quite the eye opening experience. In addition to getting to enjoy a seemingly endless flow of honey, developing a deep love for the furry striped creatures, and aiding the dwindling bee population, my dad has taught me about all of the inner workings of hives and why honey is liquid gold. Honey is often praised as a superfood for its plethora of health benefits, and it is also surprisingly easy to utilize in daily life. So here is what I've learned about honey, why you should start enjoying it, and fun ways for you to incorporate it in your diet and skin care regimen. 

1. It's a natural cough suppressant

Due to its thick, viscous nature, honey does a great job of coating the throat. This makes it effective at quelling coughs and soothing sore throats. Honey makes for a great tasting, arguably better remedy than store bought medicine due to its inexpensive price, the lack of side effects compared to store bought cough medicine (like drowsiness and dizziness), and natural origin, avoiding manufactured chemicals and additives. So, next time you get a cold, grab a spoonful of honey for a quick fix instead of a traditional cough syrup. 

2. It has antibacterial properties

One thing that makes honey particularly special is that it never spoils, so 2,000 year old jars found sealed in ancient Egyptian tombs taste as sweet as the day it was left.  Honey has hygroscopic properties due to its saturation with sugar. When microorganisms come into contact with the honey, the hygroscopic sugar particles attract all the water from the organism, causing it to shrivel and perish. This means honey is extremely antimicrobial and can be used to help heal wounds. While its use in the medical field has been recorded in history for quite some time, modern studies are further proving its value in healthcare by illustrating its success in fighting antibiotic resistant bacteria and in the healing of wounds by acting as a protective barrier that prevents infection.  

3. It increases athletic performance

While some athletes turn to sports drinks and energy chews, others harness natural alternatives. One of the best natural alternatives is honey. Due to its carbohydrate nature, high content of glucose and fructose, and traces of amino acids, minerals, and enzymes, honey helps raise your energy levels without the empty, nutrition-less calories of refined sugar. Even if you aren't active, you can still use this sweet treat to fight off your afternoon slump. Try enjoying it mixed into greek yogurt, mixed into your coffee or tea, drizzled onto celery or apples with peanut butter, or as a sweetener for fruit.  

4. It helps with seasonal allergies

Seasonal allergies plague much of the population, and a natural cure might be right in everyone's backyard. Honey aids in curing seasonal allergies because when bees collect nectar to make their honey, they become laden in pollen spores. Pollen is a common allergen, so when these tiny pollen spores are incorporated into the honey and are later consumed by the individual, they can help the person build an immunity against the allergens over time.  

5. It has great benefits for skin and hair

Honey is bursting with antioxidants, acts as a humectant (meaning it attracts water), has anti-inflammatory properties, and has the bacterial properties mentioned earlier, making it great for skin and hair. While the antioxidants, anti-bacterial properties, and anti-inflammatory properties make it great for an acne spot treatment or a scar treatment, the humectant properties and other nutrients make it a great moisturizer. For a quick, easy mask, you can apply a thick layer of honey straight to your skin and leave it on for around 20 minutes. Or, to make a deeply moisturizing skin mask, mix two tablespoons of honey, one-fourth of a smashed avocado, and two tablespoons of finely ground almonds, and apply it to the skin, leave it on for around 20 minutes, and rinse thoroughly afterwards. To make a great moisturizing lip exfoliator, mix equal parts honey and sugar, gently scrub onto lips in a circular motion, and wipe clean. Finally, to make a great deep conditioning hair mask, mix two tablespoons of greek yogurt and one tablespoon of honey, work mask into hair and massage it into your scalp, leave in for fifteen to twenty minutes, and then wash it out. 

If you didn't have enough reason already, hopefully I have inspired you to start enjoying honey and to help save the bees, or to even get a hive of your own. Try reaching out to beekeepers near you to buy local honey every season, and you will be pleasantly surprised with the wide range of color and flavor profiles. On a final note, enjoy this liquid gold and all of its benefits, but more importantly, when you see a furry, docile, little bee buzzing from flower to flower doing its business, let it be and don't try to harm it.