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Honey (ˈhʌni) is a sweet food made by bees using nectar
Nectar (plant)
Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by plants. It is produced in glands called nectaries, either within the flowers, in which it attracts pollinating animals, or by extrafloral nectaries, which provide a nutrient source to animal mutualists, which in turn provide anti-herbivore protection...

 from flowers. The variety produced by honey bee
Honey bee
Honey bees are a subset of bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests out of wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis...

s (the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeeper
Beekeeper
A beekeeper is a person who keeps honey bees for the purposes of securing commodities such as honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly; pollinating fruits and vegetables; raising queens and bees for sale to other farmers; and/or for purposes satisfying natural scientific curiosity...

s and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bee
Bee
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila...

s and insects has distinctly different properties.

Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation
Regurgitation (digestion)
Regurgitation is the expulsion of material from the mouth, pharynx, or esophagus, usually characterized by the presence of undigested food or blood.Regurgitation is used by a number of species to feed their young...

, and store it as a primary food source in wax honeycomb
Honeycomb
A honeycomb is a mass of hexagonal waxcells built by honey bees in their nests to contain their larvae and stores of honey and pollen.Beekeepers may remove the entire honeycomb to harvest honey...

s inside the beehive
Beehive
A beehive is a structure in which bees live and raise their young.Beehive may also refer to:Buildings and locations:* Bee Hive, Alabama, a neighborhood in Alabama* Beehive , a wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings...

. Beekeeping
Beekeeping
Beekeeping is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper keeps bees in order to collect honey and other products of the hive , to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers...

 practices encourage overproduction of honey so the excess can be taken from the colony
Colony (biology)
In biology, a colony reference to several individual organisms of the same species living closely together, usually for mutual benefit, such as stronger defense or the ability to attack bigger prey. Some insects live only in colonies...

.

Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose
Fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

 and glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

, and has approximately the same relative sweetness
Sweetness
Sweetness is one of the five basic tastes and is almost universally regarded as a pleasurable experience. Foods rich in simple carbohydrates such as sugar are those most commonly associated with sweetness, although there are other natural and artificial compounds that are sweet at much lower...

 as that of granulated sugar
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

. It has attractive chemical properties for baking, and a distinctive flavor that leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners. Most microorganism
Microorganism
A microorganism or microbe is a microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell , cell clusters, or no cell at all...

s do not grow in honey because of its low water activity
Water activity
Water activity or aw was developed to account for the intensity with which water associates with various non-aqueous constituents and solids. Simply stated, it is a measure of the energy status of the water in a system...

 of 0.6. However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospore
Endospore
An endospore is a dormant, tough, and temporarily non-reproductive structure produced by certain bacteria from the Firmicute phylum. The name "endospore" is suggestive of a spore or seed-like form , but it is not a true spore . It is a stripped-down, dormant form to which the bacterium can reduce...

s of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum
Clostridium botulinum
Clostridium botulinum is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium that produces several toxins. The best known are its neurotoxins, subdivided in types A-G, that cause the flaccid muscular paralysis seen in botulism. It is also the main paralytic agent in botox. C. botulinum is an anaerobic...

, which can be dangerous to infants, as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in the infant's immature intestinal tract, leading to illness and even death (see Health hazards below).

Honey has a long history of human consumption, and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. It also has a role in religion and symbolism. Flavors of honey vary based on the nectar source, and various types and grades of honey are available. It is also used in various medicinal traditions to treat ailments. The study of pollen
Pollen
Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce the male gametes . Pollen grains have a hard coat that protects the sperm cells during the process of their movement from the stamens to the pistil of flowering plants or from the male cone to the...

s and spore
Spore
In biology, a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many bacteria, plants, algae, fungi and some protozoa. According to scientist Dr...

s in raw honey (melissopalynology
Melissopalynology
Melissopalynology is the study of pollen contained in honey and, in particular, the pollen's source. By studying the pollen in a sample of honey, it is possible to gain evidence of the geographical location and genus of the plants that the honey bees visited, although honey may also contain...

) can determine floral sources of honey. Because bees carry an electrostatic charge, and can attract other particles, the same techniques of melissopalynology can be used in area environmental studies of radioactive
Radioactive decay
Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles . The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any physical interaction with another particle from outside the atom...

 particles, dust
Dust
Dust consists of particles in the atmosphere that arise from various sources such as soil dust lifted up by wind , volcanic eruptions, and pollution...

 or particulate pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

.

Formation


Honey is produced by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when fresh food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy. By contriving for bee swarms to nest in artificial hives
Beehive
A beehive is a structure in which bees live and raise their young.Beehive may also refer to:Buildings and locations:* Bee Hive, Alabama, a neighborhood in Alabama* Beehive , a wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings...

, people have been able to semidomesticate the insects, and harvest excess honey. In the hive (or in a wild nest), there are three types of bee in a hive: a single female queen bee
Queen bee
The term queen bee is typically used to refer to an adult, mated female that lives in a honey bee colony or hive; she is usually the mother of most, if not all, the bees in the hive. The queens are developed from larvae selected by worker bees and specially fed in order to become sexually mature...

, a seasonally variable number of male drone bees
Drone (bee)
Drones are male honey bees. They develop from eggs that have not been fertilized, and they cannot sting, since the worker bee's stinger is a modified ovipositor .-Etymology:...

 to fertilize new queens, and some 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bee
Worker bee
A Worker bee is any female eusocial bee that lacks the full reproductive capacity of the colony's queen bee; under most circumstances, this is correlated to an increase in certain non-reproductive activities relative to a queen, as well...

s. The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. Leaving the hive, they collect sugar-rich flower nectar and return.

In the hive, the bees use their "honey stomachs" to ingest and regurgitate
Regurgitation (digestion)
Regurgitation is the expulsion of material from the mouth, pharynx, or esophagus, usually characterized by the presence of undigested food or blood.Regurgitation is used by a number of species to feed their young...

 the nectar a number of times until it is partially digested. The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation and digestion until the product reaches a desired quality. It is then stored in honeycomb
Honeycomb
A honeycomb is a mass of hexagonal waxcells built by honey bees in their nests to contain their larvae and stores of honey and pollen.Beekeepers may remove the entire honeycomb to harvest honey...

 cells. After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. However, the nectar is still high in both water content and natural yeasts, which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment. The process continues as bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb, which enhances evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

 of much of the water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 from the nectar. This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper
Beekeeper
A beekeeper is a person who keeps honey bees for the purposes of securing commodities such as honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly; pollinating fruits and vegetables; raising queens and bees for sale to other farmers; and/or for purposes satisfying natural scientific curiosity...

, has a long shelf life, and will not ferment if properly sealed.

Physical properties


The physical properties of honey vary, depending on water content, the type of flora used to produce it, temperature, and the proportion of the specific sugars it contains. Fresh honey is a supersaturated
Supersaturation
The term supersaturation refers to a solution that contains more of the dissolved material than could be dissolved by the solvent under normal circumstances...

 liquid, containing more sugar than the water can typically dissolve at ambient temperatures. At room temperature, honey is a supercooled
Supercooling
Supercooling, also known as undercooling, is the process of lowering the temperature of a liquid or a gas below its freezing point without it becoming a solid....

 liquid, in which the glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

 will precipitate into solid granules. This forms a semisolid solution of precipitated sugars in a solution of sugars and other ingredients.

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
Seed crystal
A seed crystal is a small piece of single crystal/polycrystal material from which a large crystal of the same material typically is to be grown...

 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 the ratio of the main sugars, fructose
Fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

 to glucose, as well as the dextrin
Dextrin
Dextrins are a group of low-molecular-weight carbohydrates produced by the hydrolysis of starch or glycogen. Dextrins are mixtures of polymers of D-glucose units linked by α- or α- glycosidic bonds....

 content. Temperature also affects the rate of crystallization, which is fastest between 13 and 17 °C (55.4 and 62.6 F). Below 5 °C, the honey will not crystallize and, 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 will not freeze solid. Instead, as the temperatures become colder, the viscosity of honey increases. Like most viscous liquid
Viscous liquid
In condensed matter physics and physical chemistry, the terms viscous liquid, supercooled liquid, and glassforming liquid are often used interchangeably to designate liquids that are at the same time highly viscous , supercooled, and able to form a glass.- Working points in glass processing :The...

s, the honey will become thick and sluggish with decreasing temperature. While appearing or even feeling solid, it will continue to flow at very slow rates. Honey has a glass transition
Glass transition
The liquid-glass transition is the reversible transition in amorphous materials from a hard and relatively brittle state into a molten or rubber-like state. An amorphous solid that exhibits a glass transition is called a glass...

 between -42 C. Below this temperature, honey enters a glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

y state and will become a noncrystalline amorphous solid
Amorphous solid
In condensed matter physics, an amorphous or non-crystalline solid is a solid that lacks the long-range order characteristic of a crystal....

.

The viscosity of honey is affected greatly by both temperature and water content. The higher the humidity, the easier honey will flow. 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% humidity will generally have a viscosity of around 400 poise
Poise
The poise is the unit of dynamic viscosity in the centimetre gram second system of units. It is named after Jean Louis Marie Poiseuille ....

, while a honey containing 20% humidity will have a viscosity of around 20 poise. Viscosity increase due to temperature occurs very slowly at first. A honey containing 16% humidity, at 70 °C (158 °F), will have a viscosity of around 2 poise, while at 30 °C (86 °F), the viscosity will be around 70 poise. As cooling progresses, honey will become more viscous at an increasingly rapid rate, reaching 600 poise around 14 °C (57.2 °F). However, while honey is very viscous, it has rather low surface tension
Surface tension
Surface tension is a property of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist an external force. It is revealed, for example, in floating of some objects on the surface of water, even though they are denser than water, and in the ability of some insects to run on the water surface...

.

A few types of honey have unusual viscous properties. Honey from heather or manuka
Leptospermum scoparium
Leptospermum scoparium is a shrub or small tree native to New Zealand and southeast Australia. Evidence suggests that L. scoparium originated in Australia before the onset of the Miocene aridity and dispersed relatively recently from Eastern Australia to New Zealand. It is likely that on arrival...

 display thixotropic properties. These types of honey enter a gel-like state when motionless, but then liquify when stirred.

Unlike many other liquids, honey has very poor thermal conductivity
Thermal conductivity
In physics, thermal conductivity, k, is the property of a material's ability to conduct heat. It appears primarily in Fourier's Law for heat conduction....

. Melting crystallized honey can easily result in localized caramelization
Caramelization
Caramelization is the browning of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor....

 if the heat source is too hot, or if it is not evenly distributed. However, honey will take substantially longer to liquify when just above the melting point than it will at elevated temperatures.

Since honey contains electrolyte
Electrolyte
In chemistry, an electrolyte is any substance containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. The most typical electrolyte is an ionic solution, but molten electrolytes and solid electrolytes are also possible....

s, 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
Refractive index
In optics the refractive index or index of refraction of a substance or medium is a measure of the speed of light in that medium. It is expressed as a ratio of the speed of light in vacuum relative to that in the considered medium....

 of honey. Water content can easily be measured with a refractometer
Refractometer
A refractometer is a laboratory or field device for the measurement of an index of refraction . The index of refraction is calculated from Snell's law and can be calculated from the composition of the material using the Gladstone-Dale relation....

. Typically, the refractive index for honey will range from 1.504 at 13% humidity, to 1.474 at 25%. Honey also has an effect on polarized light, in that it will rotate the polarization plane. The fructose will give a negative rotation, while the glucose will give a positive one. The overall rotation can be used to measure the ratio of the mixture.

Honey has the ability to absorb moisture directly from the air, a phenomenon called hygroscopy
Hygroscopy
Hygroscopy is the ability of a substance to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment. This is achieved through either absorption or adsorption with the absorbing or adsorbing material becoming physically 'changed,' somewhat, by an increase in volume, stickiness, or other...

. The amount of water the honey will absorb is dependent on the relative humidity of the air. This hygroscopic nature requires that honey be stored in sealed containers to prevent fermentation. Honey will tend to absorb more water in this manner than the individual sugars would allow on their own, which may be due to other ingredients it contains.

In history, culture, and folklore


Honey use and production has a long and varied history. In many cultures, honey has associations that go beyond its use as a food. Honey is frequently used as a talisman
Amulet
An amulet, similar to a talisman , is any object intended to bring good luck or protection to its owner.Potential amulets include gems, especially engraved gems, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants and animals; even words said in certain occasions—for example: vade retro satana—, to...

 and symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

 of sweetness.

Ancient times


Honey collection is an ancient activity. Humans apparently began hunting for honey at least 10,000 years ago, as evidenced by a cave painting in Valencia
Valencian Community
The Valencian Community is an autonomous community of Spain located in central and south-eastern Iberian Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Valencia...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The painting is a Mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

 rock painting, showing two female honey-hunters collecting honey and honeycomb from a wild bee nest. The two women are depicted in the nude, carrying baskets, and using a long, wobbly ladder
Ladder
A ladder is a vertical or inclined set of rungs or steps. There are two types: rigid ladders that can be leaned against a vertical surface such as a wall, and rope ladders that are hung from the top. The vertical members of a rigid ladder are called stringers or stiles . Rigid ladders are usually...

 to reach the wild nest.

In ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits, and was used in many other dishes. Ancient Egyptian and Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

ern peoples also used honey for embalming
Embalming
Embalming, in most modern cultures, is the art and science of temporarily preserving human remains to forestall decomposition and to make them suitable for public display at a funeral. The three goals of embalming are thus sanitization, presentation and preservation of a corpse to achieve this...

 the dead. Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 devotes considerable space in his book Naturalis Historia to the bee and honey, and its many uses. The fertility god of Egypt, Min
Min (god)
Min is an Ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in predynastic times . He was represented in many different forms, but was often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail...

, was offered honey.

The art of beekeeping in ancient China has existed since time immemorial
Time immemorial
Time immemorial is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition, indefinitely ancient, "ancient beyond memory or record"...

 and appears to be untraceable to its origin. In the book "Golden Rules of Business Success" written by Fan Li
Fan Li
Fan Li was an ancient Chinese advisor in the state of Yue in the Spring and Autumn Period. He had been to the state of Wu as hostage together with King Goujian of Yue. Three years later they came back and he helped Goujian to carry on a reform. At last Yue was able to defeat the state of Wu. After...

 (or Tao Zhu Gong) during the Spring and Autumn Period, there are some parts mentioning the art of beekeeping and the importance of the quality of the wooden box for bee keeping that can affect the quality of its honey.

Honey was also cultivated in ancient Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

. The Maya
Maya peoples
The Maya people constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region who share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term...

 used honey from the stingless bee
Stingless bee
Stingless bees, sometimes called stingless honey bees or simply meliponines, are a large group of bees, comprising the tribe Meliponini . They belong in the family Apidae, and are closely related to common honey bees, carpenter bees, orchid bees and bumblebees...

 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 medicinal practices were available.

Religious significance


In Hinduism, honey (Madhu
Madhu
Madhu may refer to:* Madhu, a term in Hindi-Urdu, Sanskrit, and other languages for honey and alcohol * Madhu, in Hindu mythology, one of the asura brothers Madhu-Kaitabh, killed by Lord Vishnu...

) is one of the five elixirs of immortality (Panchamrita
Panchamrita
Panchamrita is a mixture of five foods used in Hindu worship and puja, usually honey, sugar, milk, yoghurt, and ghee.-Etymology:Pañcāmṛta is a Sanskrit compound of two words:, 'five'....

). In temples, honey is poured over the deities in a ritual called Madhu
Madhu
Madhu may refer to:* Madhu, a term in Hindi-Urdu, Sanskrit, and other languages for honey and alcohol * Madhu, in Hindu mythology, one of the asura brothers Madhu-Kaitabh, killed by Lord Vishnu...

 abhisheka
Abhisheka
Abhisheka is a Sanskrit term comparable to puja, yagya and arati that denotes: a devotional activity; an enacted prayer, rite of passage and/or religious rite or ritual...

. The Vedas and other ancient literature mention the use of honey as a great medicinal and health food.

In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah , , is the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im which occur in the autumn...

. 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.

The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 contains many references to honey. In the Book of Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

, Samson found a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of a lion (14:8). The Book of Exodus famously describes the Promised Land
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

 as a "land flowing with milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

 and honey" (33:3). However, the claim has been advanced that the original Hebrew (דבש devash) actually refers to the sweet syrup produced from the juice of dates. Pure honey is considered kosher
Kashrut
Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

 even though it is produced by a flying insect, a nonkosher creature; other products of nonkosher animals are not kosher.

In Buddhism, honey plays an important role in the festival of Madhu Purnima
Madhu Purnima
Madhu Purnima is a Buddhist festival celebrated in India and Bangladesh, especially in the region of Chittagong. It occurs on the day of the full moon in the month of Bhadro ....

, celebrated in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

. The day commemorates Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

's making peace among his disciples by retreating into the wilderness. The legend has it that while he was there, a monkey
Old World monkey
The Old World monkeys or Cercopithecidae are a group of primates, falling in the superfamily Cercopithecoidea in the clade Catarrhini. The Old World monkeys are native to Africa and Asia today, inhabiting a range of environments from tropical rain forest to savanna, shrubland and mountainous...

 brought him honey to eat. On Madhu Purnima, Buddhists remember this act by giving honey to monks
Buddhist monasticism
Monasticism is one of the most fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns are responsible for preserving and teaching Buddhist teachings and guiding Buddhist lay followers. Earlier Buddhist monks were enlightened...

. The monkey's gift is frequently depicted in Buddhist art
Buddhist art
Buddhist art originated on the Indian subcontinent following the historical life of Siddhartha Gautama, 6th to 5th century BC, and thereafter evolved by contact with other cultures as it spread throughout Asia and the world....

.

In the Christian New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, Matthew 3:4
Matthew 3:4
Matthew 3:4 is the fourth verse of the third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The verse occurs in the section introducing John the Baptist with this verse describing his clothing and diet....

, 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, there is an entire Surah
Sura
A sura is a division of the Qur'an, often referred to as a chapter. The term chapter is sometimes avoided, as the suras are of unequal length; the shortest sura has only three ayat while the longest contains 286 ayat...

 in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 called al-Nahl (the Honey Bee). According to hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, Prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 strongly recommended honey for healing purposes. The Qur'an promotes honey as a nutritious and healthy food. Below is the English translation of those specific verses.
And your Lord inspired the bee(s), saying: "Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. (68) Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you)." There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for mankind. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think.

In western culture



The word "honey", along with variations like "honey bun" and the abbreviation "hon", has become a term of endearment in most of the English-speaking world. In some places it is used for loved ones; in others, such as Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, including Baltimore, Maryland, it is used when addressing casual acquaintances or even strangers.

In many children’s books, bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

s are depicted as eating honey (e.g., Winnie the Pooh), though most bears actually eat a wide variety of foods, and bears seen at beehives are usually more interested in bee larvae than honey. In some European languages, even the word for bear (e.g. in Russian медвед medvéd, in Polish niedźwiedź, in Czech medvěd, in Serbian медвед medved, in Bosnian medvjed in Croatian medvjed/međed and in Hungarian medve) is coined from the noun meaning honey and the verb meaning to eat, thus "honey eater." Honey is sometimes sold in bear-shaped jar
Jar
A jar is a rigid, approximately cylindrical container with a wide mouth or opening. Jars are typically made of glass, ceramic, or plastic. They are used for foods, cosmetics, medications, and chemicals that are relatively thick or viscous...

s or squeeze bottle
Squeeze bottle
A squeeze bottle is a type of container for dispensing a fluid, that is powered by pressure exerted by the user's fingers. Its fundamental characteristic is that manual pressure applied to a resilient hollow body is harnessed to compress fluid within it and thereby expel the fluid thru some form of...

s.

Collecting honey


Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from domesticated beehive
Beehive
A beehive is a structure in which bees live and raise their young.Beehive may also refer to:Buildings and locations:* Bee Hive, Alabama, a neighborhood in Alabama* Beehive , a wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings...

s. Wild bee nests are sometimes located by following a honeyguide
Honeyguide
Honeyguides are near passerine bird species of the order Piciformes. They are also known as indicator birds, or honey birds, although the latter term is also used more narrowly to refer to species of the genus Prodotiscus. They have an Old World tropical distribution, with the greatest number of...

 bird.

Collecting honey is typically achieved by using smoke from a bee smoker
Bee smoker
A bee smoker is a device used in beekeeping to calm honey bees. It is designed to generate smoke from the smouldering of various fuels, hence the name.-Action and usage:...

 to pacify the bees; this causes the bees to attempt to save the resources of the hive from a possible forest fire, and makes them far less aggressive. The honeycomb
Honeycomb
A honeycomb is a mass of hexagonal waxcells built by honey bees in their nests to contain their larvae and stores of honey and pollen.Beekeepers may remove the entire honeycomb to harvest honey...

 is removed from the hive and the honey is extracted from that, often using a honey extractor
Honey extractor
A honey extractor is a mechanical device used in the honey extraction. A honey extractor extracts the honey from the honey comb without destroying the comb. Extractors work by centrifugal force. A drum or container holds a frame basket which spins, flinging the honey out...

. The honey is then filtered.

As a food and in cooking


The main uses of honey are in cooking
Cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

, baking, as a spread on bread
Bread
Bread is a staple food prepared by cooking a dough of flour and water and often additional ingredients. Doughs are usually baked, but in some cuisines breads are steamed , fried , or baked on an unoiled frying pan . It may be leavened or unleavened...

, and as an addition to various beverages, such as tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

, and as a sweetener in some commercial beverages. According to the 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
Sugar substitute
A sugar substitute is a food additive that duplicates the effect of sugar in taste, usually with less food energy. Some sugar substitutes are natural and some are synthetic. Those that are not natural are, in general, called artificial sweeteners....

". Honey barbecue and honey mustard are common and popular sauce flavors.

Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead
Mead
Mead , also called honey wine, is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. It may also be produced by fermenting a solution of water and honey with grain mash, which is strained immediately after fermentation...

, which is also known as "honey wine" or "honey beer". Historically, the ferment for mead was honey's naturally occurring yeast. Honey is also used as an adjunct
Adjuncts
Adjuncts are unmalted grains used in brewing beer which supplement the main mash ingredient , often with the intention of cutting costs, but sometimes to create an additional feature, such as better foam retention.- Definition :Ingredients which are standard for certain beers, such as wheat in a...

 in some beer
Beer
Beer is the world's most widely consumed andprobably oldest alcoholic beverage; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of sugars, mainly derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat...

s.

Honey wine, or Mead, is typically (modern era) made with a honey and water mixture with a pack of yeast added for fermentation. Primary fermentation usually takes 40 days, after which the must
Must
Must is freshly pressed fruit juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit. The solid portion of the must is called pomace; it typically makes up 7%–23% of the total weight of the must. Making must is the first step in winemaking...

 needs to be racked into a secondary fermentation vessel and left to sit about 35–40 more days. The Mead will take about 9 months to fully ferment with a racking (moving the mead into a new vessel) every 35 days.

Nutrition


Honey is a mixture of sugars and other compounds. With respect to carbohydrates, honey is mainly fructose
Fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

 (about 38.5%) and glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

 (about 31.0%), making it similar to the synthetically produced inverted sugar syrup
Inverted sugar syrup
Inverted or invert sugar syrup is a mixture of glucose and fructose; it is obtained by splitting sucrose into these two components. Compared with its precursor, sucrose, inverted sugar is sweeter and its products tend to remain more moist and are less prone to crystallisation...

, which is approximately 48% fructose, 47% glucose, and 5% sucrose
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

. Honey's remaining carbohydrates include maltose
Maltose
Maltose , or malt sugar, is a disaccharide formed from two units of glucose joined with an αbond, formed from a condensation reaction. The isomer "isomaltose" has two glucose molecules linked through an α bond. Maltose is the second member of an important biochemical series of glucose chains....

, sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates may refer to:*oligosaccharides, a saccharide polymer containing a small number of component sugars...

. As with all nutritive sweeteners, honey is mostly sugars and contains only trace amounts of vitamin
Vitamin
A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on...

s or minerals
Dietary mineral
Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules. Examples of mineral elements include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iodine...

. Honey also contains tiny amounts of several compounds thought to function as antioxidant
Antioxidant
An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When...

s, including chrysin
Chrysin
Chrysin is a naturally occurring flavone chemically extracted from the blue passion flower . Honeycomb also contains small amounts. It is also reported in Oroxylum indicum or Indian trumpetflower.-Aromatase inhibition:...

, pinobanksin
Pinobanksin
Pinobanksin is an antioxidant bioflavonoid that inhibits peroxidation of low density lipoprotein and it has electron donor properties reducing alpha-tocopherol radicals. It is present in sunflower honey.Pinobanksin can be obtained from pinocembrin....

, vitamin C
Vitamin C
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress...

, catalase
Catalase
Catalase is a common enzyme found in nearly all living organisms that are exposed to oxygen, where it catalyzes the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen...

, and pinocembrin
Pinocembrin
Pinocembrin is a flavanone, a type of flavonoid. It is an antioxidant found in damiana , honey and propolis.It can be further biosynthetized to pinobanksin, by hydroxylating the C ring.-Structure and Chemical Properties:...

. The specific composition of any batch of honey depends on the flowers available to the bees that produced the honey.

Typical honey analysis:
  • Fructose
    Fructose
    Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

    : 38.2%
  • Glucose
    Glucose
    Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

    : 31.3%
  • Maltose
    Maltose
    Maltose , or malt sugar, is a disaccharide formed from two units of glucose joined with an αbond, formed from a condensation reaction. The isomer "isomaltose" has two glucose molecules linked through an α bond. Maltose is the second member of an important biochemical series of glucose chains....

    : 7.1%
  • Sucrose
    Sucrose
    Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

    : 1.3%
  • Water
    Water
    Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

    : 17.2%
  • Higher sugar
    Sugar
    Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

    s: 1.5%
  • Ash
    Ash (analytical chemistry)
    In analytical chemistry, ashing is the process of mineralization for preconcentration of trace substances prior to chemical analysis. Ash is the name given to all non-aqueous residue that remains after a sample is burned, and consist mostly of metal oxides....

    : 0.2%
  • Other/undetermined: 3.2%


Its glycemic index
Glycemic index
The glycemic index, glycaemic index, or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more...

 ranges from 31 to 78, depending on the variety.

Honey has a density
Density
The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

 of about 1.36 kilograms per litre (36% denser than water).

Isotope ratio mass spectrometry can be used to detect addition of corn syrup
Corn syrup
Corn syrup is a food syrup, which is made from the starch of maize and contains varying amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides, depending on the grade. Corn syrup is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor...

 or sugar cane sugars by the carbon isotopic signature
Isotopic signature
An isotopic signature is a ratio of stable or unstable isotopes of particular elements found in an investigated material...

. Addition of sugars originating from corn or sugar cane (C4 plants
C4 carbon fixation
C4 carbon fixation is one of three biochemical mechanisms, along with and CAM photosynthesis, used in carbon fixation. It is named for the 4-carbon molecule present in the first product of carbon fixation in these plants, in contrast to the 3-carbon molecule products in plants. fixation is an...

, unlike the plants used by bees, which are predominantly C3 plants
C3 carbon fixation
carbon fixation is a metabolic pathway for carbon fixation in photosynthesis. This process converts carbon dioxide and ribulose bisphosphate into 3-phosphoglycerate through the following reaction:...

) 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. As low as 7% level of addition can be detected.

Classification


Honey is classified by its floral source, and there are also divisions according to the packaging and processing used. There are also regional honeys
Regional honeys
Honey comes in various types based on the region its grown and the types of flower that provide the nectar.-European honeys:There are several European honey types with PDO/PGI that are protected under EU law with PDO status...

. Honey is also graded on its color and optical density by USDA
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

 standards, graded on a scale called the Pfund scale, which ranges from 0 for "water white" honey to more than 114 for "dark amber" honey.

Floral source


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, from indeterminate origin, or can be blended after collection.

Blended


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


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 prevalent.

Monofloral


Monofloral honey
Monofloral honey
Monofloral honey is a type of honey which has a high value in the marketplace because it has a distinctive flavor or other attribute due to its being predominantly from the nectar of one plant species....

 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 source
Nectar source
A nectar source is a flowering plant that produces nectar as part of its reproductive strategy. These plants create nectar, which attract pollinating insects and sometimes other animals such as birds....

s. 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, sage, tupelo, buckwheat, fireweed, and sourwood.
Some typical European examples include thyme, thistle, heather
Ericaceae
The Ericaceae, commonly known as the heath or heather family, is a group of mostly calcifuge flowering plants. The family is large, with roughly 4000 species spread across 126 genera, making it the 14th most speciose family of flowering plants...

, acacia, dandelion, sunflower, honeysuckle, and varieties from lime
Tilia
Tilia is a genus of about 30 species of trees native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. The greatest species diversity is found in Asia, and the genus also occurs in Europe and eastern North America, but not western North America...

 and chestnut
Chestnut
Chestnut , some species called chinkapin or chinquapin, is a genus of eight or nine species of deciduous trees and shrubs in the beech family Fagaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nuts they produce.-Species:The chestnut belongs to the...

 trees.
In North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, such as Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, examples include clover
Clover
Clover , or trefoil, is a genus of about 300 species of plants in the leguminous pea family Fabaceae. The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution; the highest diversity is found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, but many species also occur in South America and Africa, including at high altitudes...

, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, and citrus
Citrus
Citrus is a common term and genus of flowering plants in the rue family, Rutaceae. Citrus is believed to have originated in the part of Southeast Asia bordered by Northeastern India, Myanmar and the Yunnan province of China...

 (mainly orange blossoms
Orange Blossoms
Orange Blossoms may refer to:* The Civil War Regiment, 124th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment* The American Swing band, Casa Loma Orchestra* The French Electronica band, Orange Blossom* The evergreen shrub found in southwestern U.S and Mexico, Choisya...

).

Honeydew honey


Instead of taking nectar, bees can take honeydew
Honeydew (secretion)
Honeydew is a sugar-rich sticky liquid, secreted by aphids and some scale insects as they feed on plant sap. When their mouthpart penetrates the phloem, the sugary, high-pressure liquid is forced out of the gut's terminal opening. Honeydew is particularly common as a secretion in the Hemipteran...

, the sweet secretions of aphid
Aphid
Aphids, also known as plant lice and in Britain and the Commonwealth as greenflies, blackflies or whiteflies, are small sap sucking insects, and members of the superfamily Aphidoidea. Aphids are among the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants in temperate regions...

s 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 sweet like nectar honeys. Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

's Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

 is a well known source of honeydew-based honeys, as well as some regions in Bulgaria and Northern California in the United States. In Greece, pine honey
Pine honey
Pine honey is a type of honeydew honey. It is produced by honey bees that collect honeydew from a scale insect species, Marchalina hellenica, which lives on the sap of certain pine species...

 (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. The 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.
  • Crystallized honey is honey in which some of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized from solution as the monohydrate. Also called "granulated honey." Honey that has crystallized over time (or commercially purchased crystallized) in the home can be returned to a liquid state if stirred in a container sitting in warm water at 120 °F (approx 49 °C).
  • Pasteurized honey is honey that has been heated in a pasteurization
    Pasteurization
    Pasteurization is a process of heating a food, usually liquid, to a specific temperature for a definite length of time, and then cooling it immediately. This process slows microbial growth in food...

     process (161 °F (71.7 °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
    Hydroxymethylfurfural
    Hydroxymethylfurfural , also 5-furfural, is an organic compound derived from dehydration of certain sugars. This yellow low-melting solid is highly water-soluble. The molecule consists of a furan ring, containing both aldehyde and alcohol functional groups...

     (HMF) and reduces enzyme (e.g. diastase) activity. Heat also affects appearance (darkens the natural honey color), taste, and fragrance.
  • Raw honey is honey 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. Local raw honey is sought after by allergy
    Allergy
    An Allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid...

     sufferers as the pollen impurities are thought to lessen the sensitivity to hay fever
    Hay Fever
    Hay Fever is a comic play written by Noël Coward in 1924 and first produced in 1925 with Marie Tempest as the first Judith Bliss. Laura Hope Crews played the role in New York...

     (see Other medical applications below).
  • Strained honey has been passed through a mesh material to remove particulate material (pieces of wax, propolis
    Propolis
    Propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is used for small gaps , while larger spaces are usually filled with beeswax. Its color varies depending on its...

    , other defects) without removing pollen, minerals or enzymes.
  • Ultrafiltered honey is processed by very fine filtration under high pressure to remove all extraneous solids and pollen grains. The process typically heats honey to 150–170 °F (approx. 65–77 °C) to more easily pass through the fine filter. Ultrafiltered honey is very clear and has a longer shelf life; it crystallizes more slowly because the high temperature breaks down sugar seed crystals, making it preferred by the supermarket trade.
  • Ultrasonicated honey has been processed by ultrasonication
    Sonication
    thumb|right|A sonicator at the [[Weizmann Institute of Science]] during sonicationSonication is the act of applying sound energy to agitate particles in a sample, for various purposes. In the laboratory, it is usually applied using an ultrasonic bath or an ultrasonic probe, colloquially known as...

    , 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 of approximately 95 °F (35 °C) and can reduce liquefaction time to less than 30 seconds.
  • Whipped honey
    Whipped honey
    Whipped honey is a honey that has been processed to control crystallization. Whipped honey contains a large number of small crystals in the honey. The small crystals prevent the formation of larger crystals that can occur in unprocessed honey...

    , also called creamed honey, spun honey, churned honey, candied honey, honey fondant, and set honey (in the UK), has been processed to control crystallization
    Crystallization
    Crystallization is the process of formation of solid crystals precipitating from a solution, melt or more rarely deposited directly from a gas. Crystallization is also a chemical solid–liquid separation technique, in which mass transfer of a solute from the liquid solution to a pure solid...

    . Whipped honey contains a large number of small crystals in the honey. The small crystals 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 agent
    Anticaking agent
    An anticaking agent is an additive placed in powdered or granulated materials, such as table salt, to prevent the formation of lumps, easing packaging, transport, and consumption....

    s. Dried honey is commonly used to garnish desserts.
  • Comb honey
    Comb honey
    Comb honey is honey, intended for consumption, which still contains pieces of the hexagonal-shaped beeswax cells of the honeycomb.Before the invention of the honey extractor almost all honey produced was in the form of comb honey...

    is honey still in the honeybees' wax comb. It traditionally is collected by using standard wooden frames
    Frame (beehive)
    A frame in a beehive is the structural element that holds the honeycomb or brood comb within the hive body . The frame is a key part of the modern "movable" hive since it can be removed in order to inspect the bees for disease or to extract the excess honey.-History:One of first beehive frames was...

     in honey super
    Honey super
    A honey super is a part of a commercial beehive that is used to collect honey. The most common variety is the super with a depth of 6⅝ inches in the length and width dimensions of a Langstroth hive....

    s. 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". In India, honey is harvested from forests in bee's natural habitat. It is said that honey will be consumed by the bees on the new moon
    New moon
    In astronomical terminology, the new moon is the lunar phase that occurs when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth...

     day, so it is cultivated the day before.
  • Chunk honey is packed in widemouth containers consisting of one or more pieces of comb honey immersed in extracted liquid honey.

Preservation


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 decades and even 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 will pull moisture into the honey, eventually diluting it to the point that fermentation can begin. Honey sealed in honeycomb cells by the bees is considered by many to be the ideal form for preservation.

Honey should also be protected from oxidation and temperature degradation. It generally should not be preserved in metal containers because the acids in the honey may promote oxidation of the vessel. Traditionally, honey was stored in ceramic or wooden containers; however, glass and plastic are now the favored materials. Honey stored in wooden containers may be discolored or take on flavors imparted from the vessel. Likewise, honey stored uncovered near other foods may absorb other smells.

Excessive heat can have detrimental effects on the nutritional value of honey. Heating up to 37 °C (98.6 °F) causes loss of nearly 200 components, some of which are antibacterial. Heating up to 40 °C (104 °F) destroys invertase
Invertase
Invertase is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of sucrose . The resulting mixture of fructose and glucose is called inverted sugar syrup. Related to invertases are sucrases. Invertases and sucrases hydrolyze sucrose to give the same mixture of glucose and fructose...

, an important enzyme. At 50 °C (122 °F), the honey sugars caramelize. Generally, any large temperature fluctuation causes decay.

Regardless of preservation, honey may crystallize over time. Crystallization does not affect the flavor, quality or nutritional content of the honey, though it does affect color and texture. The rate is a function of storage temperature, availability of "seed" crystals and the specific mix of sugars and trace compounds in the honey. Tupelo and acacia honeys, for example, are exceptionally slow to crystallize, while goldenrod will often crystallize still in the comb. Most honeys crystallize fastest between about 50 and 70 °F (10 and 21.1 °C). The crystals can be redissolved by heating the honey.

Honey grading


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
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

 standards. Honey is graded based upon a number of factors, including water content, flavor and aroma, absence of defects and clarity. Honey is also classified by color though it is not a factor in the grading scale.

The honey grade scale is:
Grade Water content Flavor and aroma Absence of defects Clarity
A < 18.6% Good—has a good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source and is free from caramelization, smoke, fermentation, chemicals and other odor causes Practically free—practically no defects that affect appearance or edibility Clear—may contain air bubbles that do not materially affect the appearance; may contain a trace of pollen grains or other finely divided particles of suspended material that do not affect appearance
B < 18.6% Reasonably good—practically free from caramelization; free from smoke, fermentation, chemicals, and other causes Reasonably free—do not materially affect appearance or edibility Reasonably clear—may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material that do not materially affect appearance
C < 20.0% Fairly good—reasonably free from caramelization; free from smoke, fermentation, chemicals, and other causes Fairly free—do not seriously affect the appearance or edibility Fairly clear—may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material that do not seriously affect appearance
Substandard > 20.0% Fails Grade C Fails Grade C Fails Grade C


Other countries may have differing standards on the grading of honey. India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, 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 preservation.

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
Diastase
A diastase is any one of a group of enzymes which catalyses the breakdown of starch into maltose. Alpha amylase degrades starch to a mixture of the disaccharide maltose, the trisaccharide maltotriose, which contains three α -linked glucose residues, and oligosaccharides known as dextrins that...

 activity, which can be determined with the Schade or the Phadebas
Phadebas
Phadebas is a substrate used for both qualitative and quantitative assessment of the alpha-Amylase enzyme. The active component of Phadebas is DSM-P, microspheres in which a blue dye has been chemically bound...

 methods. A fluffy film on the surface of the honey (like a white foam), or marble-colored or white-spotted crystallization on a containers sides, is formed by air bubbles trapped during the bottling process.

A 2008 Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 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
Fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

 and sucrose
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

, as well as differing levels of aromatic amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

s phenylalanine
Phenylalanine
Phenylalanine is an α-amino acid with the formula C6H5CH2CHCOOH. This essential amino acid is classified as nonpolar because of the hydrophobic nature of the benzyl side chain. L-Phenylalanine is an electrically neutral amino acid, one of the twenty common amino acids used to biochemically form...

 and tyrosine
Tyrosine
Tyrosine or 4-hydroxyphenylalanine, is one of the 22 amino acids that are used by cells to synthesize proteins. Its codons are UAC and UAU. It is a non-essential amino acid with a polar side group...

. This ability allows greater ease of selecting compatible stocks.

In medicine


Historically, honey has been used by humans to treat a variety of ailments through topical application, but only recently have the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey been chemically explained.

In Ayurveda
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

, a 4000-year-old medicine originating from India, honey is considered to positively affect all three primitive material imbalances of the body. "Vaatalam guru sheetam cha raktapittakaphapaham| Sandhatru cchedanam ruksham kashayam madhuram madhu|| "It has sweetness with added astringent as end taste. It is heavy, dry and cold. Its effect on doshas (imbalances) is that it aggravates vata (air / moving forces), scrapes kapha (mucus / holding forces) and normalizes pitta (catabolic fire) and rakta (blood). It promotes the healing process."

Some wound gels which contain antibacterial raw honey and have regulatory approval are now available to help treat drug-resistant strains of bacteria (MRSA
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans. It is also called multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and oxacillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus...

). One New Zealand researcher says a particular type of honey (Manuka honey
Manuka honey
Manuka honey is a monofloral honey made by bees in New Zealand that frequent the manuka bush, Leptospermum scoparium. Only 10 percent of all Manuka Honey is claimed to have antibacterial properties because of its non-hydrogen peroxide antibacterial content, which is known as NPA Manuka honey...

) may be useful in treating MRSA infections.)

As an antimicrobial agent honey may have the potential for treating a variety of ailments. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity
Water activity
Water activity or aw was developed to account for the intensity with which water associates with various non-aqueous constituents and solids. Simply stated, it is a measure of the energy status of the water in a system...

 causing osmosis, chelation
Chelation
Chelation is the formation or presence of two or more separate coordinate bonds between apolydentate ligand and a single central atom....

 of free Iron, its slow release of hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

, high acidity, and the antibacterial activity of methylglyoxal
Methylglyoxal
Methylglyoxal, also called pyruvaldehyde or 2-oxopropanal is the aldehyde form of pyruvic acid. It has two carbonyl groups, so it is a dicarbonyl compound. Methylglyoxal is both an aldehyde and a ketone....

.

Honey appears to be effective in killing drug-resistant biofilm
Biofilm
A biofilm is an aggregate of microorganisms in which cells adhere to each other on a surface. These adherent cells are frequently embedded within a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substance...

s which are implicated in chronic rhinosinusitis.

Osmotic effect


Honey is primarily a saturated mixture of two monosaccharides, with a low water activity
Water activity
Water activity or aw was developed to account for the intensity with which water associates with various non-aqueous constituents and solids. Simply stated, it is a measure of the energy status of the water in a system...

; most of the water molecules are associated with the sugars and few remain available for microorganisms, so it is a poor environment for their growth. If water is mixed with honey, it loses its low water activity, and therefore no longer possesses this antimicrobial property.

Hydrogen peroxide


Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

 is formed in a slow-release manner by the enzyme glucose oxidase
Glucose oxidase
The glucose oxidase enzyme is an oxido-reductase that catalyses the oxidation of glucose to hydrogen peroxide and D-glucono-δ-lactone. In cells, it aids in breaking the sugar down into its metabolites....

 present in honey. It becomes active only when honey is diluted, requires oxygen to be available for the reaction (thus it may not work under wound dressings, in wound cavities or in the gut), is active only when the acidity of honey is neutralized by body fluids, can be destroyed by the protein-digesting enzymes present in wound fluids, and is destroyed when honey is exposed to heat and light. Honey chelates
Chelation
Chelation is the formation or presence of two or more separate coordinate bonds between apolydentate ligand and a single central atom....

 and deactivates free iron, which would otherwise catalyze the formation of oxygen free radicals
Radical (chemistry)
Radicals are atoms, molecules, or ions with unpaired electrons on an open shell configuration. Free radicals may have positive, negative, or zero charge...

 from hydrogen peroxide, leading to inflammation. Also, the antioxidant constituents in honey help clean up oxygen free radicals present.
C6H12O6
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

 + H2O + O2C6H12O7
Gluconic acid
Gluconic acid is an organic compound with molecular formula C6H12O7 and condensed structural formula HOCH24COOH. It is one of the 16 stereoisomers of 2,3,4,5,6-pentahydroxyhexanoic acid....

 + H2O2
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

 (glucose oxidase reaction)


When honey is used topically (as, for example, a wound dressing), hydrogen peroxide is produced by dilution of the honey with body fluids. As a result, hydrogen peroxide is released slowly and acts as an antiseptic.

Use for diabetic ulcers


Topical honey has been used successfully in a comprehensive treatment of diabetic ulcers when the patient cannot use topical antibiotics.

Acidity


The pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 of honey is commonly between 3.2 and 4.5. This relatively acidic pH level prevents the growth of many bacteria.

Methylglyoxal


The nonperoxide antibiotic activity is due to methylglyoxal
Methylglyoxal
Methylglyoxal, also called pyruvaldehyde or 2-oxopropanal is the aldehyde form of pyruvic acid. It has two carbonyl groups, so it is a dicarbonyl compound. Methylglyoxal is both an aldehyde and a ketone....

 (MGO) and an unidentified synergistic component. Most honeys contain very low levels of MGO, but manuka honey contains very high levels. The presence of the synergist in manuka honey more than doubles MGO antibacterial activity.

Nutraceutical effects


Antioxidants in honey have even been associated with reducing the damage done to the colon in colitis
Colitis
In medicine, colitis refers to an inflammation of the colon and is often used to describe an inflammation of the large intestine .Colitides may be acute and self-limited or chronic, i.e...

 in a study involving administering honey enamas
Enema
An enema is the procedure of introducing liquids into the rectum and colon via the anus. The increasing volume of the liquid causes rapid expansion of the lower intestinal tract, often resulting in very uncomfortable bloating, cramping, powerful peristalsis, a feeling of extreme urgency and...

 to rats.
Such claims are consistent with its use in many traditions of folk medicine
Folk medicine
-Description:Refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience.All cultures and societies...

.

Use for sore throats and coughs


Honey has also been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats and coughs and, according to recent research, may be an effective soothing agent for coughs.

Other medical applications


Some studies suggest the topical use of honey may reduce odors, swelling, and scarring when used to treat wounds; it may also prevent the dressing
Dressing (medical)
A dressing is an adjunct used by a person for application to a wound to promote healing and/or prevent further harm. A dressing is designed to be in direct contact with the wound, which makes it different from a bandage, which is primarily used to hold a dressing in place...

 from sticking to the healing wound.

Honey has been shown to be an effective treatment for conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva...

 in rats.

Unfiltered, pasteurized honey is widely believed to alleviate allergies, though neither commercially filtered nor raw honey was shown to be more effective than placebo
Placebo
A placebo is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient...

 in a controlled study of 36 participants with ocular allergies
Allergic conjunctivitis
Allergic conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva due to allergy. Although allergens differ between patients, the most common cause is hay fever. Symptoms consist of redness , oedema of the conjunctiva, itching and increased lacrimation...

. Nearly 1 in 3 of the volunteers dropped out of the study because they couldn’t tolerate eating one tablespoon of honey every day due to the overly sweet taste. The official conclusion: "This study does not confirm the widely held belief that honey relieves the symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis." A more recent study has shown pollen collected by bees to exert an antiallergenic effect, mediated by an inhibition of IgE immunoglobulin binding to mast cells. This inhibited mast cell degranulation and thus reduced allergic reaction. The risk of experiencing anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is defined as "a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death". It typically results in a number of symptoms including throat swelling, an itchy rash, and low blood pressure...

 as an immune system reaction may outweigh any potential allergy relief.

A review in the Cochrane Library suggests honey could reduce the time it takes for a burn to heal — up to four days sooner in some cases. The review included 19 studies with 2,554 participants. Although the honey treatment healed moderate burns faster than traditional dressings did, the author recommends viewing the findings with caution, since a single researcher performed all of the burn studies.

Botulism


Because of the natural presence of botulinum
Clostridium botulinum
Clostridium botulinum is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium that produces several toxins. The best known are its neurotoxins, subdivided in types A-G, that cause the flaccid muscular paralysis seen in botulism. It is also the main paralytic agent in botox. C. botulinum is an anaerobic...

 endospore
Endospore
An endospore is a dormant, tough, and temporarily non-reproductive structure produced by certain bacteria from the Firmicute phylum. The name "endospore" is suggestive of a spore or seed-like form , but it is not a true spore . It is a stripped-down, dormant form to which the bacterium can reduce...

s in honey, children under one year of age should not be given honey. The more-developed digestive system of older children and adults generally destroys the spores. Infants, however, can contract botulism
Botulism
Botulism also known as botulinus intoxication is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by botulinum toxin which is metabolic waste produced under anaerobic conditions by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, and affecting a wide range of mammals, birds and fish...

 from honey. Medical grade honey can be treated with gamma radiation to reduce the risk of botulinum spores being present. Gamma radiation evidently does not affect honey's antibacterial activity, whether or not the particular honey's antibacterial activity is dependent upon peroxide generation.

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, it is recommended not to take the risk

Toxic honey



Honey produced from the flowers of oleander
Oleander
Nerium oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the dogbane family Apocynaceae, toxic in all its parts. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium. It is most commonly known as oleander, from its superficial resemblance to the unrelated olive Olea, but has many other...

s, rhododendron
Rhododendron
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers...

s, mountain laurels, sheep laurel, and azalea
Azalea
Azaleas are flowering shrubs comprising two of the eight subgenera of the genus Rhododendron, Pentanthera and Tsutsuji . Azaleas bloom in spring, their flowers often lasting several weeks...

s 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, generally dilutes any toxins.

New Zealand


Toxic honey may also result when bees are proximate to tutu
Tutu (plant)
Tutu is a common name of Māori origin for plants in the genus Coriaria found in New Zealand.Six New Zealand native species are known by the name:*Coriaria angustissima*Coriaria arborea*Coriaria lurida*Coriaria plumosa...

 bushes (Coriaria arborea) and the vine hopper insect (Scolypopa australis
Scolypopa australis
Scolypopa australis, commonly known as the passionvine hopper is a species of planthopper in the insect family Ricaniidae found in Australia. Despite their name, they are found not only on passion vines, but on many different plant species such as the lantana. Brown with partly transparent wings,...

). 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
Tutin (toxin)
Tutin is a poisonous plant derivative found in the New Zealand tutu plant . It acts as a potent antagonist of the glycine receptor, and has powerful convulsant effects...

 into honey. Only a few areas in New Zealand (Coromandel Peninsula, Eastern Bay of Plenty and the Marlborough Sound) 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 of their apiary.

Honey-producing countries


In 2005, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 were the top producers of natural honey, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Significant regional producers of honey include Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 (ranked third worldwide) and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 (ranked fifth worldwide).

Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 is also an important producer of honey, providing about 10% of the world's supply. Much of this (about one-third) comes from the Yucatán Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

. Honey production began there when the Apis mellifera and the A. mellifera ligustica were introduced there early in the 20th century. Most of Mexico's Yucatán producers are small, family operations who use original traditional techniques, moving hives to take advantage of the various tropical and subtropical flowers.

Honey is also one of the gourmet products of the French island of Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

. Corsican honey is certified as to its origin (Appellation d'origine contrôlée
Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée
Appellation d’origine contrôlée , which translates as "controlled designation of origin", is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products, all under the auspices of the government bureau Institut National...

) just as are French wines, like Champagne.

Homolje
Homolje
Homolje is a region in east Serbia south of the Danube river. It is centered around the town of Žagubica, with smaller parts belonging to municipalities of Kučevo, Majdanpek and Petrovac...

 honey (eastern Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

) is certified as to its origin.

See also


  • Bee bread
    Bee bread
    Bee bread or bee pollen is a food supplement consisting of pollen that has been packed by worker honeybees into granules, with added honey or nectar....

  • Comestible
  • Folk medicine
    Folk medicine
    -Description:Refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience.All cultures and societies...

  • Honey flow
    Honey flow
    Honey flow is a term used by beekeepers indicating that one or more major nectar sources are in bloom and the weather is favorable for bees to fly and collect the nectar in abundance....

  • Honey hunting
    Honey hunting
    Honey hunting or honey harvesting which involves robbing honey from wild bee colonies is one of the most ancient human activities and is still practiced by aboriginal societies in parts of Africa, Asia, Australia and South America. Some of the earliest evidence of gathering honey from wild colonies...

  • Honey varieties
  • Mead
    Mead
    Mead , also called honey wine, is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. It may also be produced by fermenting a solution of water and honey with grain mash, which is strained immediately after fermentation...

  • National honey show
    National Honey Show
    The National Honey Show is an annual British show of Honey and other Honey and Bee products.It first took place in 1923 at The Crystal Palace until 1936, when it burnt down. It is currently is held every October at St George's College, Weybridge, Surrey. Events that take place at the show include...

  • Royal jelly
    Royal jelly
    Royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, as well as adult queens. It is secreted from the glands in the hypopharynx of worker bees, and fed to all larvae in the colony....



Further reading


The Hive: The Story Of The Honeybee. London, Great Britain: John Murray (Publishers). ISBN 0 7195 6598 7

External links