What is honey
WHAT IS HONEY
Honey is a sweet, aromatic and thick liquid produced by honey bees from flower nectar, honey-dew from the leaves of softwood and hardwood trees, sweet matter secreted by small insects as well as sweet juice from the fruits of certain plants. This honey is stored by bees in honey-combs.
The colour of honey may vary from almost colourless to a dark brown and its texture from thick liquid to crystal form. Its flavour and scent may vary and wll depend on the predominant plant species contained in the honey.
How is honey made?
Natural bee honey is produced by honey bees largely out of flower nectar. Nectar is a sweet liquid secreted by special glands at the base of the flower. When circling around flowers, bees detect nectar with their tongue and suck it into their honey stomach. They carry the nectar to their hives and give it to other bees for processing and storing in honey-comb cells. In the days following its storage, redundant water is released from the nectar and sucrose is dissolved by the invertase enzyme to basic saccharine: glucose and fructose.
Finally, the bees cover the processed nectar with white honey-comb wax covers for storage. This way, each wax cell becomes an individual natural storage unit and the whole honey-comb case a mine of rich therapeutic and energy-filled food. Aside from flower nectar, bees collect other sweet secretions from leaves. This honey is called honey-dew. They also like the sweet matter created by plant louse and other plant insects. Plant louse, while sucking on plant juice, secrets the sweet liquid collected by bees. Honey produced in this manner is called honey-dew.
Characteristics of honey
Crystallization of honey is a natural physical and chemical process that doesn’t change the characteristics of honey, allowing it to keep all of its therapeutic and nutritious qualities. It predominantly depends on the type of honey and storage. Some types of honey crystallize quickly, others do not or do but very slowly. Crystallization of honey will be slower if it contains more fruit than grape saccharine. It’s a process of transformation of liquid honey into a somewhat solid condition. It’s easy to transform such honey into liquid condition by putting the jar in the water and heating it up at the temperature of 50°С.
Depending on the herbal origin of nectar, honey can be divided into monofloral honey and polifloral honey. Monofloral honey is made predominantly from the nectar of one plant species. Honey derived from at least 80 percent of a single plant species is considered to be monofloral honey or high-quality honey. The types of monofloral honey found in our country include: acacia, linden, sage-blossom, sunflower, chestnut, lavender etc. Polifloral honey is derived from the nectar of many types of plant species. This type of honey is named after its origin such as: clover, forest etc.
The nutritious and therapeutic qualities of honey
Of all the food used in human nutrition, honey is considered to be the most significant biologically for its neat balance of sundry ingredients and its complex effects. It stimulates nearly all functions of the human organism, including the secretion of toxic matter. Due to its bactericide qualities, honey is irreplaceable as both a food and medicine – for children and adults, for the elderly and the weak, for people under extraordinary physical and mental strain, for both the healthy and the ill.
The nutritious and therapeutic qualities of honey are also seen in the fact that it is easily digestible, as it contains enzymes that stimulate digestion. Once inside a stomach, it quickly dissolves and enters the lymph system, and subsequently into blood and tissue, revealing its nutritious and therapeutic qualities.
Honey contains large amounts of physiologically active substances and is therefore used as an additional medical agent in therapy. Honey has a calming effect, prevents the increase of lipids and blood cholesterol, digestive organ disease, kidney disease, anaemia and other diseases.
What does honey contain?
Depending on the type, natural bee honey contains an average of: 15–20% water, 75–80% saccharine (grape – glucose, fruit – fructose and sucrose to a lesser extent), as well as mineral matter, albumen, vitamins, ferments, organic and non-organic acids, alkaloids, fragrance and colour.
How to store honey?
Honey can be packaged and stored in glass, ceramic, wooden, aluminium or plastic pots. The honey pot should be hermetically sealed. Honey should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place, free of strong outside odours.