Facts about honey

We found 19 facts about honey

Sweet delicacy

Everyone knows its taste, smell, and color, and many people have become convinced of its excellent properties affecting our health. It is called “liquid gold” not without reason. It has been used by humans since the earliest times as food. In ancient Egypt, it was also used as a cosmetic, an aphrodisiac, and even an embalming agent for corpses. It is said that Cleopatra, to preserve her youth, took baths in milk and honey. Nowadays, everyone knows that it is a natural remedy (on top of being tasty), for which there is no need to go to the pharmacy, and its therapeutic effect works for many ailments.

Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance produced by honey bees and some other Hymenoptera (such as wasps).

Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants (flower nectar) or the secretions of other insects (honeydew) by returning food, enzymatic activity, and evaporating water.

Honey is produced by bees of the genus Apis and stingless bees (Melipona - a tribe in the bee family, which includes about 250 species found in the tropics or subtropics).

They carry flower nectar or honeydew to the hives. Under the influence of enzymes and formic acid, sucrose is converted into glucose and fructose in the bee’s digestive tract (a mixture of these simple sugars is commonly called inverted sugar).

The collected nectar or honeydew is used by the bees as food.

While foraging, bees use some of the collected nectar to support the metabolic activity of the muscles used in flight, most of the collected nectar is for regurgitation (the passive movement of food content from the stomach to the esophagus, without the vomiting reflex), digestion and storage as honey.

In cold weather or when other food sources are scarce, adult bees use the stored honey as food.

When a bee collects sugar-rich nectar, it sucks it out using a trumpet (a tube inside which is a mobile, flexible tongue) and places it in a storage sack (crop), which is separated from the honey stomach by a foregut, known as a valve.

The crop of a typical honey bee contains about 40 mg of nectar, or about 50 percent of the bee’s unencumbered weight (this may require visiting about a thousand flowers), The function of the foregut is to regulate the flow of pollen and nectar into the stomach. This allows the bee to take food from the crop when it has a long journey back to the hive and is running out of energy.

Upon returning to the hive, the bee passes the harvest to the hive worker and then flies off to continue working.

This mouth-to-mouth exchange of nectar is called trophallaxis. The final processing of nectar into honey is handled by the bees working in the hive, The bee repeatedly extends and retracts its uvula coated with fresh, processed nectar which causes water to evaporate and thicken the mixture. During this process, digestive enzymes are added to the solution in the crop. Eventually, the bees deposit the honey drops in the cells of the comb, where it initially remains uncapped, as it still contains a high content of water (about 50 to 70 percent) and natural yeasts, which, uncontrolled, cause the fermentation of sugars in the newly formed honey.

Bees are one of the few insects that can generate large amounts of heat with their bodies.

Hive bees constantly regulate the temperature of the hive by heating it with their bodies or cooling it down by evaporating water to maintain a constant temperature of around 35 degrees Celsius in the honey room. This process continues when the bees are constantly flapping their wings creating a constant air circulation and evaporating the water from the honey to a content of about 18 percent. This is when the sugar concentration in the honey rises above the saturation point, preventing fermentation. The bees then cover the cells of the comb with wax to seal them (honey is hygroscopic).

Due to its composition and chemical properties, honey is suitable for long-term storage.

The long storage life of honey is attributed to an enzyme found in the bees’ stomachs. The bees mix glucose oxidase with the excreted nectar they previously consumed, creating two byproducts: gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which are partly responsible for honey’s acidity and inhibition of bacterial growth.

The most numerous group of compounds in honey are carbohydrates, mainly glucose and fructose.

Sucrose, maltose, and melezitose (in honeydew honey) may be present in smaller amounts. The taste of honey is influenced by organic acids, mainly gluconic acid, malic acid, and citric acid, and the essential group of compounds that determine the taste and aroma of honey are essential oils derived from nectar - a total of more than 50 have been isolated.

The color of honey depends on the presence of various pigments.

Carotenoids (beta-carotene and xanthophyll) are the most important.

Honey contains certain amounts of trace elements and vitamins.

These are mainly potassium, chlorine, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, and cobalt. Vitamins include A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and biotin, as well as substances of a hormonal nature. An important task is performed by acetylcholine.

Honey has salutary properties for the human body.

It has beneficial effects on the heart, nerves, brain, and healing wounds. It works better than some antibiotics (i.e. present in nectar lysozyme, an antimicrobial enzyme). Honey helps treat a stubborn cold, the acetylcholine and potassium contained in it improve heart function. It helps in recovery from chronic illnesses, facilitates sleep, and enables restful sleep. It improves circulation and lowers blood pressure, helps with neuroses and coronary artery disease. It is commonly used in cosmetics.

Honey is divided into nectar (flower) and honeydew honey.

As a rule, floral honeys are light in color, some only have a dark yellow to brown tint. However, they have distinct aromas. Most often these are multi-flower honey, but beekeepers can obtain varietal honey, derived from the nectar of a single plant (in the vast majority). Such honey is harvested as soon as a particular plant blooms, and the honey is later named after it. The more important honey-producing plants are rapeseed, clover, lime, buckwheat, heather, acacia, etc.

The second category is honeydew honey.

They are harvested by bees from the secretions of insects parasitizing the leaves-aphids or maggots-which are mixed with the plant sap that seeps out as a result of insect punctures.

Honeydew honey is usually dark in color with a yellowish tint in the case of leafy honeydew and a greenish tint in the case of coniferous honeydew. Coniferous honeydew honey has a mild, slightly resinous taste, while the taste of leafy honeydew honey is peculiar and does not suit everyone.

This honey is among the more expensive because honeydew does not occur annually.

Based on the degree of crystallization of honey, a distinction is made between honey in a liquid state (Patoka) and crystallized honey (buckthorn).

The crystallization of honey is a natural phenomenon. The crystallization time varies for different kinds of honey and depends on several factors. One of them is the degree of maturity of the honey. This is a reversible process, it is enough to heat the croup to a temperature of about 50 degrees Celsius (preferably to 40 degrees Celsius, because then there are no undesirable chemical transformations in the honey). Croup has the same values as liquid honey, crystallization does not change its composition.

From crystallizing honey, you can get creamy honey.

It is enough to stir such honey intensively 4-6 times a day for 10-15 minutes and you will get its creamy form, containing very fine crystals. Such creamy honey is very good for spreading it on bread.

There are also contraindications to consuming honey.

Honey should not be given to children under the age of one, as it may contain spores of botulism bacilli in amounts that pose a threat to the health and life of such young children. Eating honey may also be inadvisable for people suffering from reflux. There was a recent promotional campaign for manuka honey (honey extracted from the flowers of the manuka plant, which grows in Australia and New Zealand), which was said to be good for digestive diseases and other conditions, but no scientific evidence of this was found. The New Zealand government has banned producers of these honey from citing the therapeutic effects of manuka honey on their labels.

Mead has been made and consumed since the Middle Ages in Lithuania and Poland.

It is a traditional alcoholic beverage created by fermenting the wort of bee honey, usually lime honey. Since 2008, Polish mead has been registered by the European Commission as a Guaranteed Traditional Specialty.

Mead is produced in meadery. The traditional division of meadery distinguishes half-pint mead, two-pint mead, three-pint mead, and four-pint mead. This division refers to the amount of water used to dilute the honey, from which the wort is made.

Honey is also obtained industrially, but then we are dealing with artificial honey.

It is obtained by decomposing complex sugars (usually from potato syrup) sucrose or isoglucose (high-fructose corn syrup) into simple sugars through a process of heating in solution with the addition of weak acids as catalysts. Colorants, flavorings, and flavor essences are also added. Of course, such honey does not have the properties that natural honey has. The method of producing artificial honey has been used in the industry since World War I.

Honey is a fairly caloric product, with 320-330 kcal in 100 g of honey.

Its energy value is determined by the predominant proportion of simple sugars-glucose and fructose.

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