HONEY is a sweet, viscous food substance produced by bees and some
related insects . Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of
plants (floral nectar ) or other insects (aphid honeydew ) through
regurgitation , enzymatic activity, and water evaporation, and store
it in wax structures called honeycombs . The variety of honey
produced by honey bees (the genus _Apis_) is the best-known, due to
its worldwide commercial production and human consumption.
collected from wild bee colonies, or from hives of domesticated bees,
a practice known as beekeeping .
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and
glucose , and has about the same relative sweetness as granulated
sugar . It has attractive chemical properties for baking and a
distinctive flavor when used as a sweetener. Most microorganisms do
not grow in honey, so sealed honey does not spoil, even after
thousands of years.
Providing 64 calories in a typical serving of one tablespoon (15 ml)
equivalent to 1272 kj per 100 g, honey has no significant nutritional
Honey is generally safe, but may have various, potentially
adverse effects or interactions upon excessive consumption, existing
disease conditions, or use of prescription drugs .
Honey use and production have a long and varied history as an ancient
activity, depicted in Valencia ,
Spain by a cave painting of humans
foraging for honey at least 8,000 years ago.
* 1 Formation
* 2 Production
* 2.1 Collection
* 2.2 Preservation
* 2.3 Adulteration
* 2.4 Worldwide production
* 3 Modern uses
* 3.1 Food
* 4 Physical and chemical properties
* 4.1 Phase transitions
* 4.3 Electrical and optical properties
Hygroscopy and fermentation
* 4.5 Thermal characteristics
* 4.6 Acid content and flavor effects
* 5 Classification
* 5.1 Floral source
* 5.1.1 Blended
* 5.1.2 Polyfloral
* 5.1.3 Monofloral
* 5.2 Honeydew honey
* 5.3 Classification by packaging and processing
* 5.4 Grading
* 5.5 Indicators of quality
* 6 Nutritional and sugar profile
* 7 Medical
* 7.1 Uses
* 7.1.1 Wounds and burns
* 7.1.2 Cough
* 7.1.3 Other
* 7.2 Health hazards
* 7.2.2 Toxic honey
* 8 History and culture
* 8.1 Ancient times
Folk medicine and wound research
* 8.3 Religious significance
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 Bibliography
* 12 External links
A honey bee on calyx of goldenrod
Honey is produced by bees collecting nectar for use as sugars
consumed to support metabolism of muscle activity during foraging or
to be stored as a long-term food supply. During foraging, bees
access part of the nectar collected to support metabolic activity of
flight muscles, with the majority of collected nectar destined for
regurgitation , digestion, and storage as honey. In cold weather or
when other food sources are scarce, adult and larval bees use stored
honey as food.
By contriving for bee swarms to nest in man-made hives , people have
been able to semidomesticate the insects and harvest excess honey. In
the hive or in a wild nest, the three types of bees are:
* a single female queen bee
* a seasonally variable number of male drone bees to fertilize new
* 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees
Sealed frame of honey
Leaving the hive, foraging bees collect sugar-rich flower nectar and
return to the hive where they use their "honey stomachs" to ingest and
regurgitate the nectar repeatedly until it is partially digested.
Bee digestive enzymes – invertase , amylase , and diastase – along
with gastric acid hydrolyze sucrose to a mixture of glucose and
fructose. The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation
and digestion for as long as 20 minutes until the product reaches
storage quality. It is then placed in honeycomb cells left unsealed
while still high in water content (about 20%) and natural yeasts,
which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the newly formed honey to
ferment. The process continues as hive bees flutter their wings
constantly to circulate air and evaporate water from the honey to a
content around 18%, raising the sugar concentration, and preventing
fermentation . The bees then cap the cells with wax to seal them.
As removed from the hive by a beekeeper , honey has a long shelf life
and will not ferment if properly sealed.
Another source of honey is from a number of wasp species, such as the
Brachygastra lecheguana _ and _
Brachygastra mellifica _, which
are found in South and Central America. These species are known to
feed on nectar and produce honey.
Some wasps, such as the _
Polistes versicolor _, even consume honey
themselves, switching from feeding on pollen in the middle of their
lifecycles to feeding on honey, which can better provide for their
Extraction from a honeycomb Filtering from a honeycomb
Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from domesticated
beehives . The honey is stored in honeycombs. Wild bee nests are
sometimes located by following a honeyguide bird. The bees may first
be pacified by using smoke from a bee smoker . The smoke triggers a
feeding instinct (an attempt to save the resources of the hive from a
possible fire), making them less aggressive and the smoke obscures the
pheromones the bees use to communicate.
The honeycomb is removed from the hive and the honey may be extracted
from that, either by crushing or by using a honey extractor . The
honey is then usually filtered to remove beeswax and other debris.
Before the invention of removable frames, bee colonies were often
sacrificed to conduct the harvest. The harvester would take all the
available honey and replace the entire colony the next spring. Since
the invention of removable frames, the principles of husbandry lead
most beekeepers to ensure that their bees have enough stores to
survive the winter, either by leaving some honey in the beehive or by
providing the colony with a honey substitute such as sugar water or
crystalline sugar (often in the form of a "candyboard"). The amount of
food necessary to survive the winter depends on the variety of bees
and on the length and severity of local winters.
A wide range of species other than humans are attracted to wild or
domestic sources of honey.
Because of its unique composition and chemical properties, honey is
suitable for long-term storage, and is easily assimilated even after
long preservation. Honey, and objects immersed in honey, have been
preserved for centuries. The key to preservation is limiting access
to humidity. In its cured state, honey has a sufficiently high sugar
content to inhibit fermentation. If exposed to moist air, its
hydrophilic properties pull moisture into the honey, eventually
diluting it to the point that fermentation can begin.
The shelf life of honey is due to an enzyme found in the stomach of
Glucose oxidase is mixed by the bees with expelled nectar
previously consumed by the bees which then creates "two by-products:
gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide" which are responsible for honey's
acidity and ability to suppress bacterial growth.
Adulteration of honey is the addition of other sugars, syrups, or
compounds into honey to change its flavor or viscosity, make it
cheaper to produce, or increase the fructose content to stave off
crystallization. According to the
Codex Alimentarius of the United
Nations, any product labeled as honey or pure honey must be a wholly
natural product, although different nations have their own laws
concerning labeling. Adulteration of honey is sometimes used as a
method of deception when buyers are led to believe that the honey is
pure. The practice was common dating back to ancient times, when
crystallized honey was often mixed with flour or other fillers, hiding
the adulteration from buyers until the honey was liquefied. In modern
times, the most common adulteration-ingredient became clear,
almost-flavorless corn syrup, which, when mixed with honey, is often
very difficult to distinguish from unadulterated honey.
Isotope ratio mass spectrometry can be used to detect addition of
corn syrup and cane sugar by the carbon isotopic signature . Addition
of sugars originating from corn or sugar cane (C4 plants , unlike the
plants used by bees, and also sugar beet , which are predominantly C3
plants ) skews the isotopic ratio of sugars present in honey, but
does not influence the isotopic ratio of proteins. In an unadulterated
honey, the carbon isotopic ratios of sugars and proteins should match.
Levels as low as 7% of addition can be detected.
In one country, the USA, according to the National
Honey Board (a
USDA-overseen organization), "honey stipulates a pure product that
does not allow for the addition of any other substance... this
includes, but is not limited to, water or other sweeteners ".
Honey production - 2014
Source: UN Food "> Crystallized honey: The inset shows a
close-up of the honey, showing the individual glucose grains in the
The physical properties of honey vary, depending on water content,
the type of flora used to produce it (pasturage), temperature, and the
proportion of the specific sugars it contains. Fresh honey is a
supersaturated liquid, containing more sugar than the water can
typically dissolve at ambient temperatures. At room temperature, honey
is a supercooled liquid, in which the glucose will precipitate into
solid granules. This forms a semisolid solution of precipitated
glucose crystals in a solution of fructose and other ingredients.
At the temperature of 20 °C, density of honey typically ranges
between 1.38 and 1.45 kg/l.
The melting point of crystallized honey is between 40 and 50 °C (104
and 122 °F), depending on its composition. Below this temperature,
honey can be either in a metastable state, meaning that it will not
crystallize until a seed crystal is added, or, more often, it is in a
"labile" state, being saturated with enough sugars to crystallize
spontaneously. The rate of crystallization is affected by many
factors, but the primary factor is the ratio of the main sugars:
fructose to glucose. Honeys that are supersaturated with a very high
percentage of glucose, such as brassica honey, crystallize almost
immediately after harvesting, while honeys with a low percentage of
glucose, such as chestnut or tupelo honey, do not crystallize. Some
types of honey may produce very large but few crystals, while others
produce many small crystals.
Crystallization is also affected by water content, because a high
percentage of water inhibits crystallization, as does a high dextrin
content. Temperature also affects the rate of crystallization, with
the fastest growth occurring between 13 and 17 °C (55 and 63 °F).
Crystal nuclei (seeds) tend to form more readily if the honey is
disturbed, by stirring, shaking, or agitating, rather than if left at
rest. However, the nucleation of microscopic seed-crystals is greatest
between 5 and 8 °C (41 and 46 °F). Therefore, larger but fewer
crystals tend to form at higher temperatures, while smaller but
more-numerous crystals usually form at lower temperatures. Below 5
°C, the honey will not crystallize, thus the original texture and
flavor can be preserved indefinitely.
Since honey normally exists below its melting point, it is a
supercooled liquid. At very low temperatures, honey does not freeze
solid. Instead, as the temperatures become lower, the viscosity of
honey increases. Like most viscous liquids , the honey becomes thick
and sluggish with decreasing temperature. At −20 °C (−4 °F),
honey may appear or even feel solid, but it continues to flow at very
Honey has a glass transition between −42 and −51 °C
(−44 and −60 °F). Below this temperature, honey enters a glassy
state and becomes an amorphous solid (noncrystalline).
Pouring raw honey. The sheet-like appearance of the flow is the
result of high viscosity and low surface tension, contributing to the
stickiness of honey.
The viscosity of honey is affected greatly by both temperature and
water content. The higher the water percentage, the more easily honey
flows . Above its melting point, however, water has little effect on
viscosity. Aside from water content, the composition of honey also has
little effect on viscosity, with the exception of a few types. At 25
°C (77 °F), honey with 14% water content generally has a viscosity
around 400 poise , while a honey containing 20% water has a viscosity
around 20 poise.
Viscosity increase due to temperature occurs very
slowly at first. A honey containing 16% water, at 70 °C (158 °F),
has a viscosity around 2 poise, while at 30 °C (86 °F), the
viscosity is around 70 poise. As cooling progresses, honey becomes
more viscous at an increasingly rapid rate, reaching 600 poise around
14 °C (57 °F). However, while honey is very viscous, it has rather
low surface tension .
A few types of honey have unusual viscous properties. Honeys from
heather or manuka display thixotropic properties. These types of honey
enter a gel-like state when motionless, but then liquify when stirred.
ELECTRICAL AND OPTICAL PROPERTIES
Because honey contains electrolytes , in the form of acids and
minerals, it exhibits varying degrees of electrical conductivity .
Measurements of the electrical conductivity are used to determine the
quality of honey in terms of ash content.
The effect honey has on light is useful for determining the type and
quality. Variations in the water content alter the refractive index of
honey. Water content can easily be measured with a refractometer .
Typically, the refractive index for honey ranges from 1.504 at 13%
water content to 1.474 at 25%.
Honey also has an effect on polarized
light , in that it rotates the polarization plane. The fructose gives
a negative rotation, while the glucose gives a positive one. The
overall rotation can be used to measure the ratio of the mixture.
Honey may vary in color between pale yellow and dark brown, but other
bright colors may occasionally be found, depending on the source of
the sugar harvested by the bees.
HYGROSCOPY AND FERMENTATION
Honey has the ability to absorb moisture directly from the air, a
phenomenon called hygroscopy . The amount of water the honey absorbs
is dependent on the relative humidity of the air. Because honey
contains yeast, this hygroscopic nature requires that honey be stored
in sealed containers to prevent fermentation, which usually begins if
the honey's water content rises much above 25%.
Honey tends to absorb
more water in this manner than the individual sugars allow on their
own, which may be due to other ingredients it contains.
Fermentation of honey usually occurs after crystallization, because
without the glucose, the liquid portion of the honey primarily
consists of a concentrated mixture of fructose, acids, and water,
providing the yeast with enough of an increase in the water percentage
Honey that is to be stored at room temperature for long
periods of time is often pasteurized , to kill any yeast, by heating
it above 70 °C (158 °F).
Like all sugar compounds, honey caramelizes if heated sufficiently,
becoming darker in color, and eventually burns. However, honey
contains fructose, which caramelizes at lower temperatures than
glucose. The temperature at which caramelization begins varies,
depending on the composition, but is typically between 70 and 110 °C
(158 and 230 °F).
Honey also contains acids, which act as catalysts ,
decreasing the caramelization temperature even more. Of these acids,
the amino acids, which occur in very small amounts, play an important
role in the darkening of honey. The amino acids form darkened
compounds called melanoidins , during a
Maillard reaction . The
Maillard reaction occurs slowly at room temperature, taking from a few
to several months to show visible darkening, but speeds up
dramatically with increasing temperatures. However, the reaction can
also be slowed by storing the honey at colder temperatures.
Unlike many other liquids, honey has very poor thermal conductivity ,
taking a long time to reach thermal equilibrium . Melting crystallized
honey can easily result in localized caramelization if the heat source
is too hot, or if it is not evenly distributed. However, honey takes
substantially longer to liquify when just above the melting point than
at elevated temperatures. Melting 20 kg of crystallized honey, at 40
°C (104 °F), can take up to 24 hours, while 50 kg may take twice as
long. These times can be cut nearly in half by heating at 50 °C (122
°F). However, many of the minor substances in honey can be affected
greatly by heating, changing the flavor, aroma, or other properties,
so heating is usually done at the lowest temperature possible for the
shortest amount of time.
ACID CONTENT AND FLAVOR EFFECTS
The average pH of honey is 3.9, but can range from 3.4 to 6.1. Honey
contains many kinds of acids, both organic and amino . However, the
different types and their amounts vary considerably, depending on the
type of honey. These acids may be aromatic or aliphatic (nonaromatic).
The aliphatic acids contribute greatly to the flavor of honey by
interacting with the flavors of other ingredients.
Organic acids comprise most of the acids in honey, accounting for
0.17–1.17% of the mixture, with gluconic acid formed by the actions
of an enzyme called glucose oxidase as the most prevalent. Other
organic acids are minor, consisting of formic , acetic , butyric ,
citric , lactic , malic , pyroglutamic , propionic , valeric ,
capronic , palmitic , and succinic , among many others.
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Honey is classified by its floral source, and divisions are made
according to the packaging and processing used. Also, regional honeys
are identified. In the USA, honey is also graded on its color and
optical density by USDA standards, graded on the Pfund scale, which
ranges from 0 for "water white" honey to more than 114 for "dark
Generally, honey is classified by the floral source of the nectar
from which it was made. Honeys can be from specific types of flower
nectars or can be blended after collection. The pollen in honey is
traceable to floral source and therefore region of origin. The
rheological and melissopalynological properties of honey can be used
to identify the major plant nectar source used in its production.
Most commercially available honey is blended, meaning it is a
mixture of two or more honeys differing in floral source, color,
flavor, density, or geographic origin.
Polyfloral honey, also known as wildflower honey, is derived from
the nectar of many types of flowers.
The taste may vary from year to year, and the aroma and the flavor
can be more or less intense, depending on which bloomings are
Monofloral honey is made primarily from the nectar of one type of
flower. Different monofloral honeys have a distinctive flavor and
color because of differences between their principal nectar sources .
To produce monofloral honey, beekeepers keep beehives in an area where
the bees have access to only one type of flower. In practice, because
of the difficulties in containing bees, a small proportion of any
honey will be from additional nectar from other flower types. Typical
examples of North American monofloral honeys are clover , orange
blossom , blueberry , sage, tupelo , buckwheat , fireweed , mesquite ,
and sourwood . Some typical European examples include thyme , thistle
, heather , acacia , dandelion , sunflower , lavender , honeysuckle ,
and varieties from lime and chestnut trees. In
North Africa (e.g.
Egypt ), examples include clover, cotton , and citrus (mainly orange
blossoms). The unique flora of
Australia yields a number of
distinctive honeys, with some of the most popular being yellow box ,
blue gum , ironbark , bush mallee , Tasmanian leatherwood , and
Instead of taking nectar, bees can take honeydew , the sweet
secretions of aphids or other plant sap-sucking insects. Honeydew
honey is very dark brown in color, with a rich fragrance of stewed
fruit or fig jam, and is not as sweet as nectar honeys.
Black Forest is a well known source of honeydew-based honeys, as well
as some regions in Bulgaria,
Tara (mountain) in
Serbia , and Northern
California in the United States. In Greece, pine honey (a type of
honeydew honey) constitutes 60–65% of the annual honey production.
Honeydew honey is popular in some areas, but in other areas,
beekeepers have difficulty selling the stronger-flavored product.
The production of honeydew honey has some complications and dangers.
This honey has a much larger proportion of indigestibles than light
floral honeys, thus causing dysentery to the bees, resulting in the
death of colonies in areas with cold winters. Good beekeeping
management requires the removal of honeydew prior to winter in colder
areas. Bees collecting this resource also have to be fed protein
supplements, as honeydew lacks the protein-rich pollen accompaniment
gathered from flowers.
CLASSIFICATION BY PACKAGING AND PROCESSING
Generally, honey is bottled in its familiar liquid form. However,
honey is sold in other forms, and can be subjected to a variety of
processing methods. _
Honeycomb A variety of honey flavors
and container sizes and styles from the 2008
Texas State Fair
* CRYSTALLIZED HONEY occurs when some of the glucose content has
spontaneously crystallized from solution as the monohydrate. It is
also called "granulated honey" or "candied honey".
Honey that has
crystallized (or commercially purchased crystallized) can be returned
to a liquid state by warming.
* PASTEURIZED HONEY has been heated in a pasteurization process
which requires temperatures of 161 °F (72 °C) or higher.
Pasteurization destroys yeast cells. It also liquefies any
microcrystals in the honey, which delays the onset of visible
crystallization. However, excessive heat exposure also results in
product deterioration, as it increases the level of
hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and reduces enzyme (e.g. diastase)
activity. Heat also affects appearance (darkens the natural honey
color), taste, and fragrance.
* RAW HONEY is as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by
extraction, settling, or straining, without adding heat (although some
honey that has been "minimally processed" is often labeled as raw
honey). Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small
particles of wax.
* STRAINED HONEY has been passed through a mesh material to remove
particulate material (pieces of wax, propolis , other defects)
without removing pollen, minerals, or enzymes.
* FILTERED HONEY of any type has been filtered to the extent that
all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or
other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed. The
process typically heats honey to 150–170 °F (66–77 °C) to more
easily pass through the filter. Filtered honey is very clear and will
not crystallize as quickly, making it preferred by the supermarket
* ULTRASONICATED HONEY has been processed by ultrasonication , a
nonthermal processing alternative for honey. When honey is exposed to
ultrasonication, most of the yeast cells are destroyed. Those cells
that survive sonication generally lose their ability to grow, which
reduces the rate of honey fermentation substantially. Ultrasonication
also eliminates existing crystals and inhibits further crystallization
in honey. Ultrasonically aided liquefaction can work at substantially
lower temperatures around 95 °F (35 °C) and can reduce liquefaction
time to less than 30 seconds.
* CREAMED HONEY , also called whipped honey, spun honey, churned
honey, honey fondant, and (in the UK) set honey, has been processed to
Creamed honey contains a large number of
small crystals, which prevent the formation of larger crystals that
can occur in unprocessed honey. The processing also produces a honey
with a smooth, spreadable consistency.
* DRIED HONEY has the moisture extracted from liquid honey to create
completely solid, nonsticky granules. This process may or may not
include the use of drying and anticaking agents . Dried honey is used
in baked goods, and to garnish desserts.
* COMB HONEY is still in the honeybees' wax comb. It is
traditionally collected using standard wooden frames in honey supers .
The frames are collected and the comb is cut out in chunks before
packaging. As an alternative to this labor-intensive method, plastic
rings or cartridges can be used that do not require manual cutting of
the comb, and speed packaging.
Comb honey harvested in the traditional
manner is also referred to as "cut-comb honey". :13
* CHUNK HONEY is packed in widemouth containers consisting of one or
more pieces of comb honey immersed in extracted liquid honey. :13
* HONEY DECOCTIONS are made from honey or honey byproducts which
have been dissolved in water, then reduced (usually by means of
boiling). Other ingredients may then be added. (For example, abbamele
has added citrus.) The resulting product may be similar to molasses.
* BAKER\'S HONEY is outside the normal specification for honey, due
to a "foreign" taste or odor, or because it has begun to ferment or
has been overheated. It is generally used as an ingredient in food
processing. Additional requirements exist for labeling baker's honey,
including that it may not be sold labelled simply as "honey".
In the US, honey grading is performed voluntarily (USDA does offer
inspection and grading "as on-line (in-plant) or lot inspection...upon
application, on a fee-for-service basis.") based upon USDA standards.
Honey is graded based upon a number of factors, including water
content, flavor and aroma, absence of defects, and clarity.
also classified by color, though it is not a factor in the grading
scale. THE HONEY GRADE SCALE IS:
FLAVOR AND AROMA
ABSENCE OF DEFECTS
Good—"has a good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant
floral source or, when blended, a good flavor for the blend of floral
sources and the honey is free from caramelized flavor or objectionable
flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with
the exception of the predominant floral source"
Practically free—"contains practically no defects that affect the
appearance or edibility of the product"
Clear—"may contain air bubbles which do not materially affect the
appearance of the product and may contain a trace of pollen grains or
other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not
affect the appearance of the product"
Reasonably good—"has a reasonably good, normal flavor and aroma
for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a reasonably good
flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is practically
free from caramelized flavor and is free from objectionable flavor
caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the
exception of the predominant floral source"
Reasonably free—"may contain defects which do not materially
affect the appearance or edibility of the product"
Reasonably clear—"may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or
other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not
materially affect the appearance of the product"
Fairly good—"has a fairly good, normal flavor and aroma for the
predominant floral source or, when blended, a fairly good flavor for
the blend of floral sources and the honey is reasonably free from
caramelized flavor and is free from objectionable flavor caused by
fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of
the predominant floral source"
Fairly free—"may contain defects which do not seriously affect
the appearance or edibility of the product"
Fairly clear—"may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other
finely divided particles of suspended material which do not seriously
affect the appearance of the product"
Fails Grade C
Fails Grade C
Fails Grade C
Fails Grade C
Other countries may have differing standards on the grading of honey.
India , for example, certifies honey grades based on additional
factors, such as the Fiehe's test, and other empirical measurements.
INDICATORS OF QUALITY
High-quality honey can be distinguished by fragrance, taste, and
consistency. Ripe, freshly collected, high-quality honey at 20 °C (68
°F) should flow from a knife in a straight stream, without breaking
into separate drops. After falling down, the honey should form a
bead. The honey, when poured, should form small, temporary layers that
disappear fairly quickly, indicating high viscosity. If not, it
indicates excessive water content (over 20%) of the product. Honey
with excessive water content is not suitable for long-term
In jars, fresh honey should appear as a pure, consistent fluid, and
should not set in layers. Within a few weeks to a few months of
extraction, many varieties of honey crystallize into a cream-colored
solid. Some varieties of honey, including tupelo, acacia, and sage,
crystallize less regularly.
Honey may be heated during bottling at
temperatures of 40–49 °C (104–120 °F) to delay or inhibit
crystallization. Overheating is indicated by change in enzyme levels,
for instance, diastase activity, which can be determined with the
Schade or the
Phadebas methods. A fluffy film on the surface of the
honey (like a white foam), or marble-colored or white-spotted
crystallization on a container's sides, is formed by air bubbles
trapped during the bottling process.
A 2008 Italian study determined nuclear magnetic resonance
spectroscopy can be used to distinguish between different honey types,
and can be used to pinpoint the area where it was produced.
Researchers were able to identify differences in acacia and polyfloral
honeys by the differing proportions of fructose and sucrose , as well
as differing levels of aromatic amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine
. This ability allows greater ease of selecting compatible stocks.
NUTRITIONAL AND SUGAR PROFILE
NUTRITIONAL VALUE PER 100 G (3.5 OZ)
1,272 kJ (304 kcal)
(3%) 0.038 mg
(1%) 0.121 mg
PANTOTHENIC ACID (B5)
(1%) 0.068 mg
(2%) 0.024 mg
(1%) 2 μg
(1%) 0.5 mg
(1%) 6 mg
(3%) 0.42 mg
(1%) 2 mg
(1%) 4 mg
(1%) 52 mg
(0%) 4 mg
(2%) 0.22 mg
Full Link to USDA Database entry
* μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
* IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
In a 100-gram serving, honey provides 304 kilocalories with no
essential nutrients in significant content. Composed of 17% water and
82% carbohydrates , honey has low content of fat , dietary fiber , and
A mixture of sugars and other carbohydrates, honey is mainly fructose
(about 38%) and glucose (about 32%), with remaining sugars including
maltose , sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates . Its glycemic
index ranges from 31 to 78, depending on the variety. The specific
composition, color, aroma, and flavor of any batch of honey depend on
the flowers foraged by bees that produced the honey.
One 1980 study found that mixed floral honey from several United
States regions typically contains:
* Fructose: 38.2%
* Glucose: 31.3%
* Maltose: 7.1%
* Sucrose: 1.3%
* Water: 17.2%
* Higher sugars : 1.5%
* Ash : 0.2%
* Other/undetermined: 3.2%
NMR spectroscopy study of 20 different honeys from Germany
found that their sugar contents comprised:
* Fructose: 28% to 41%
* Glucose: 22% to 35%
The average ratio was 56% fructose to 44% glucose, but the ratios in
the individual honeys ranged from a high of 64% fructose and 36%
glucose (one type of flower honey; table 3 in reference) to a low of
50% fructose and 50% glucose (a different floral source). This NMR
method was not able to quantify maltose, galactose , and the other
minor sugars as compared to fructose and glucose.
Wounds And Burns
Honey contains trace amount of compounds implicated in preliminary
studies to have wound-healing properties, such as hydrogen peroxide
and methylglyoxal .
Some evidence shows that honey may help healing in skin wounds after
surgery and mild (partial thickness) burns when used in a dressing,
but in general, the evidence for the use of honey in wound treatment
is of such low quality that firm conclusions cannot be drawn.
Evidence does not support the use of honey-based products in the
treatment of venous stasis ulcers or ingrowing toenail .
Research into medical uses for honey is ongoing, particularly because
of antimicrobial resistance to modern antibiotics .
For chronic and acute coughs, a Cochrane review found no strong
evidence for or against the use of honey. For treating children, the
study concluded that honey possibly helps more than no treatment.
Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency recommends
avoiding giving over the counter cough and common cold medication to
children under six, and suggests "a homemade remedy containing honey
and lemon is likely to be just as useful and safer to take", but warns
that honey should not be given to babies because of the risk of infant
botulism . The World Health Organization recommends honey as a
treatment for coughs and sore throats, including for children, stating
that no reason exists to believe it is less effective than a
Honey is recommended by one Canadian physician for
children over the age of one for the treatment of coughs, as it is
deemed as effective as dextromethorphan and more effective than
No evidence shows the benefit of using honey to treat cancer ,
although honey may be useful for controlling side effects of radiation
therapy or chemotherapy applied in cancer treatment.
Consumption is sometimes advocated as a treatment for seasonal
allergies due to pollen , but scientific evidence to support the claim
Honey is generally considered ineffective for the
treatment of allergic conjunctivitis .
Preliminary studies found honey to contain an antimicrobial peptide
called bee defensin-1. Some _in vitro_ studies show that honey can
kill methicillin-resistant _Staphylococcus aureus_ (MRSA),
β-haemolytic streptococci and vancomycin-resistant _Enterococci_ .
Although honey is generally safe when taken in typical food amounts,
there are various, potential adverse effects or interactions it may
have in combination with excessive consumption, existing disease
conditions or drugs . Included among these are mild reactions to high
intake, such as anxiety , insomnia , or hyperactivity in about 10% of
children, according to one study. No symptoms of anxiety, insomnia,
or hyperactivity were detected with honey consumption compared to
placebo, according to another study.
Honey consumption may interact
adversely with existing allergies , high blood sugar levels (as in
diabetes ), or anticoagulants used to control bleeding , among other
People who have a weakened immune system may be at risk of bacterial
or fungal infection from eating honey, although there is no
high-quality clinical evidence that this occurs commonly.
Infants can develop botulism after consuming honey contaminated with
Clostridium botulinum _ endospores.
Infantile botulism shows geographical variation. In the UK, only six
cases have been reported between 1976 and 2006, yet the U.S. has much
higher rates: 1.9 per 100,000 live births, 47.2% of which are in
California. While the risk honey poses to infant health is small,
taking the risk is not recommended until after one year of age, and
then giving honey is considered safe.
Main article: Bees and toxic chemicals § Toxic honey
Mad honey intoxication is a result of eating honey containing
Honey produced from flowers of rhododendrons ,
mountain laurels , sheep laurel , and azaleas may cause honey
intoxication. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, excessive
perspiration, nausea, and vomiting. Less commonly, low blood pressure,
shock, heart rhythm irregularities, and convulsions may occur, with
rare cases resulting in death.
Honey intoxication is more likely when
using "natural" unprocessed honey and honey from farmers who may have
a small number of hives. Commercial processing, with pooling of honey
from numerous sources, is thought to dilute any toxins.
Toxic honey may also result when bees are proximate to tutu bushes
(_Coriaria arborea_) and the vine hopper insect (_Scolypopa australis
_). Both are found throughout New Zealand. Bees gather honeydew
produced by the vine hopper insects feeding on the tutu plant. This
introduces the poison tutin into honey. Only a few areas in New
Coromandel Peninsula , Eastern
Bay of Plenty
Bay of Plenty and the
Marlborough Sounds ) frequently produce toxic honey. Symptoms of tutin
poisoning include vomiting, delirium, giddiness, increased
excitability, stupor, coma, and violent convulsions. To reduce the
risk of tutin poisoning, humans should not eat honey taken from feral
hives in the risk areas of New Zealand. Since December 2001, New
Zealand beekeepers have been required to reduce the risk of producing
toxic honey by closely monitoring tutu, vine hopper, and foraging
conditions within 3 km (1.9 mi) of their apiary. Intoxication is
HISTORY AND CULTURE
Honey use and production has a long and varied history. In many
cultures, honey has associations that go beyond its use as a food. It
is frequently used as a talisman and symbol of sweetness.
Honey seeker depicted in an 8000-year-old cave painting at
Araña Caves in
Honey collection is an ancient activity. Humans apparently began
hunting for honey at least 8,000 years ago, as evidenced by a cave
painting in Valencia , Spain. The painting is a
painting, showing two honey hunters collecting honey and honeycomb
from a wild bee nest. The figures are depicted carrying baskets or
gourds, and using a ladder or series of ropes to reach the wild nest.
The greater honeyguide bird guides humans to wild bee hives and this
behavior may have evolved with early hominids.
The oldest honey remains to have been found were in the country of
Georgia . Archaeologists found honey remains on the inner surface of
clay vessels unearthed in an ancient tomb, dating back some
4,700–5,500 years. In ancient Georgia, several types of honey
were buried with a person for their journey into the afterlife,
including linden, berry, and meadow-flower varieties.
Egypt , honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits, and
was used in many other dishes. Ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern
peoples also used honey for embalming the dead. The fertility god of
Egypt, Min , was offered honey.
In ancient Greece , honey was produced from the Archaic to the
Hellenistic periods. In 594 BC, beekeeping around
Athens was so
Solon passed a law about it: "He who sets up hives of
bees must put them 300 feet (91 metres) away from those already
installed by another". Greek archaeological excavations of pottery
located ancient hives. According to
Columella , Greek beekeepers of
Hellenistic period did not hesitate to move their hives over
rather long distances to maximise production, taking advantage of the
different vegetative cycles in different regions.
In the absence of sugar, honey was an integral sweetening ingredient
in Greek and Roman cuisine. During Roman times, honey was part of many
recipes and it is mentioned in the work of many authors, such as
Virgil , Pliny ,
Cicero , and others.
The spiritual and therapeutic use of honey in ancient
documented in both the
Vedas and the
Ayurveda texts, which were both
composed at least 4,000 years ago.
The art of beekeeping in ancient
China has existed since time
immemorial and appears to be untraceable to its origin. In the book
_Golden Rules of Business Success_ written by
Fan Li (or Tao Zhu Gong)
Spring and Autumn period , some parts mention the art of
beekeeping and the importance of the quality of the wooden box for
beekeeping that can affect the quality of its honey.
Honey was also cultivated in ancient
Mesoamerica . The Maya used
honey from the stingless bee for culinary purposes, and continue to do
so today. The Maya also regard the bee as sacred (see Mayan stingless
bees of Central America ).
Some cultures believed honey had many practical health uses. It was
used as an ointment for rashes and burns, and to help soothe sore
throats when no other practices were available.
FOLK MEDICINE AND WOUND RESEARCH
In myths and folk medicine , honey has been used both orally and
topically to treat various ailments including gastric disturbances,
ulcers , skin wounds , and skin burns by ancient Greeks and Egyptians,
Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine .
Proposed for treating wounds and burns, honey may have antimicrobial
properties as first reported in 1892 and be useful as a safe,
improvisational wound treatment. Though its supposed antimicrobial
properties may be due to high osmolarity even when diluted with water,
it is more effective than plain sugar water of a similar viscosity.
Definitive clinical conclusions about the efficacy and safety of
treating wounds, however, are not possible from this limited research.
The flora that bees use to make the honey may have a role in its
properties, particularly by bees foraging from the manuka myrtle,
Leptospermum scoparium _, as proposed in one study.
In ancient Greek religion , the food of
Zeus and the 12 Gods of
Olympus was honey in the form of nectar and ambrosia .
Hinduism , honey (_
Madhu _) is one of the five elixirs of
Panchamrita _). In temples, honey is poured over the
deities in a ritual called _
Madhu abhisheka _. The _Vedas_ and other
ancient literature mention the use of honey as a great medicinal and
In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, _Rosh
Hashanah _. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are
dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year. Some _Rosh
Hashanah_ greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In
some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in
the new year.
Hebrew Bible contains many references to honey. In the Book of
Judges , Samson found a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of a
lion (14:8). In Old Testament law, offerings were made in the temple
to God. The
Book of Leviticus says that "Every grain offering you
bring to the Lord must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn
any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the Lord" (2:11).
Books of Samuel , Jonathan is forced into a confrontation with
King Saul after eating honey in violation of a rash oath
Saul has made (1 Samuel 14:24–47). Proverbs 16:24 in the JPS Tanakh
1917 version says "Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, Sweet to the
soul, and health to the bones."
Book of Exodus
Book of Exodus famously describes the
Promised Land as a "land flowing with milk and honey" (33:3). However,
most Biblical commentators write that the original Hebrew in the Bible
(דבש _devash_) refers to the sweet syrup produced from the juice of
dates (_silan_). In 2005 an apiary dating from the 10th century B.C.
was found in Tel Rehov, Israel that contained 100 hives and is
estimated to produce half a ton of honey annually. Pure honey is
considered kosher , though it is produced by a flying insect, a
non-kosher creature; other products of non-kosher animals are not
In Buddhism, honey plays an important role in the festival of _Madhu
Purnima _, celebrated in
Bangladesh . The day commemorates
Buddha 's making peace among his disciples by retreating into the
wilderness. The legend has it that while he was there, a monkey
brought him honey to eat. On _
Madhu Purnima_, Buddhists remember this
act by giving honey to monks . The monkey's gift is frequently
Buddhist art .
In the Christian
New Testament , Matthew 3:4 ,
John the Baptist
John the Baptist is
said to have lived for a long period of time in the wilderness on a
diet consisting of locusts and wild honey.
In Islam, an entire chapter (Surah ) in the Qur\'an is called
_an-Nahl_ (the Bee). According to his teachings (_hadith _), Muhammad
strongly recommended honey for healing purposes . The
honey as a nutritious and healthy food. Below is the English
translation of those specific verses:
And thy Lord taught the
Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees,
and in (men's) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the
earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there
issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is
healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought .
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