Honey is a dark colored sweet, watery and viscous liquid.
It has been used from ancient days for health and nutrition.
It is obtained from honey combs made by honey bees.
These honey bees suck a sweet liquid named nectar from the flowers.
But why flowers produce this nectar? Because to attract insects.
When insects lands on the flowers, the male gametes i.e. pollen grains get attached to the limbs of these honey bees.
When these honey bees with the pollen visit another flower, the pollen are shed.
Thus nectar is intended for cross pollination by means of insects and birds.
This nectar in their gut (digestive tract) is converted to honey by the enzymes invertase.
The honey lodged into the combs is taken out by driving them away.
The honey combs are squeezed or let for natural draining to collect into a vessel. This is allowed to settle down to lets granular particles sediment. The upper clear layer is used.
In large scale production, the honey is filtered instead after squeezing.
The sting bite of a bee can be very painful and sometimes lethal. Hence in the early days the bees were driven away by producing smoke or fumes below the comb.
Now honey is obtained by beekeeping method. Here honey combs are produced in boxes meant for the purpose in open places.
Honey Health Benefits
1. For nutrition: Honey nutrition and taste makes it a good consumable to everyone daily. It is rich in sugars so helps for instant energy when consumed. Since it is easily absorbed into the body from digestive system it is suitable for babies and patients to provide nutrition.
2. Demulcent: Honey is smooth and viscous by its constitution. It can be applied on skin as protectant, soothing agent and also drunk for throat irritation.
3. Wound healing: It can be applied on to open wounds to enhance healing. It is a bit interesting to note that honey though sweet doesn’t permit microbial growth on it. Further it is also believed to have some good antiseptic and anti-oxidant properties.
4. As a sweetening agent: Many drugs in modern medicine are bitter and non agreeable taste. Honey is added as adjuvant and sweetening agent to mask the bitter taste. Hence we see honey as a part of formulation in cough syrups, infant and kids syrups etc.
5. In alternative medicine: Honey is of immense value in traditional or alternative medicine like Ayurveda. It is used as a vehicle for many drugs to administer to the sick. It also expected to prevent the harshness or bitter taste of the drug from being felt by the patient. Further it helps in easy absorption of the administered drug.
Calories in honey & nutrition
Honey is rich in sugars like Glucose 35%, fructose 45%, sucrose 2%. Since concentration of carbohydrates is large and honey is of good calorific value. It also has maltose, gum, small amounts of acetic acid, formic acid. This formic acid might be from the bee itself as it is the pain causer on a bee bite.
Further it also has vitamins like C, B and micro-elements like Potassium, Sodium, calcium, Magnesium, phosphate, iron etc other enzymes, essential vitamins, minerals. Due to vitamin C it is also good anti-oxidant.
On standing it can crystallize hence it is heated to 80oC and sent to market. It is filtered to remove any pollen or particulate matter.