Honey is a sweet and viscous fluid produced by bees from the nectar of blossoms or from secretions of living parts of plants or excretions of plant sucking insects. The bees collect, transform and combine with the enzyme invertase containing the saliva of the bees and stored in the combs where it matures. Also honey is a secretion that was previously consumed by them. Human intervention in the process of exploitation of the honeycombs is known as beekeeping. The physical, chemical and organoleptic properties of honey are determined by the type of nectar that bees collect. The botanical origin of honey also defines the degree of ease of them to crystallize.


Honey has its qualities recognized and used by humans since ancient times as food and naturally sweetened with sweetening power of two times higher than sugar cane.

There are several historical references to it. In addition to biblical quotations, many other peoples, like the ancient Egyptians or Greeks, for example, referred to honey as a sacred product, coming to serve as a way to pay taxes. In Egyptian excavations more than 2000 years honey samples were found perfectly preserved in jars that were still slightly covered food and only had to heat it. There are also records in prehistoric cave paintings of the use of honey.

 Mesolithic cave painting (8000 to 6000 BC), in the "Cave of  the Spider" in Bicorp (Valencia). It represents a collection  of honey from a hive tree.

 They are known various types of honey which depend on  the flower used as a source of nectar and the type of bee  that produced it, but since they manufacture it in quantity  about three times higher than they need to survive, if  possible, first, collected this excess for humans and later  made ​​the domestication of bees for the specific purpose of  getting your honey, a technique known as beekeeping.


According to its vegetable origin, differs between:

  • Honey of flowers: produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. Many varieties are distinguished:
  • Honeydew honey or honeydewHoneydewhoney dew or Forest honey: is produced by bees from the sweet secretions aphids greenfliesmealybugs and other sap-sucking insects, typically pinesfirsoakscorkshrubs and other plants. Usually less sweet, very dark, solidified with difficulty, and not infrequently exhibits spicy smell and taste, resinous. Honeydew honey from pine has a peculiar flavor of pine, and is prized for its medicinal use inEurope and Turkey.

Blossom honey is transparent and solidified over time depending on the source plant and temperature. Below 14 ° C accelerates the solidification process. Heather honeys harden quickly and take a long chestnut.

The study of pollen in honey virgin (melissopalynology)to determine the floral origin. Since pollen particles are electrostatically charged and attracts other particles, the techniques used in the melissopalynology environmental studies can be used in radioactive particle , dust o contamination.

Details of the hexagonal cells of a honeycomb.

A side effect of the collection of nectar and pollen for honey production is the pollination,which is crucial for replication of flowering plants.



Honey is primarily used in cooking and baking, to accompany the bread or toast (especially in breakfasts and snacks) and as an additive various beverages such as tea. Being rich in sugars such as fructose, The honey is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air), so that adding a small amount of breads and cakes makes them more slowly harden. The virgin honey also
contains enzymes that help digestion, and various vitamins and antioxidants.
For this generally recommended consumption of honey at temperatures above 140 ºF, because the higher the temperature begins to lose its beneficial properties to volatilize some of these elements.

The vegans avoid taking honey, it technically is a product of animal origin, not the apivegetarianos.

Honey is the main ingredient in mead, , which is produced from honey and water, which is also known as "honey wine".


Containers for storing, transporting or serving honey. Left: unglazed pottery, with two handles. And on the right: ceramic glazed and decorated, with no handles. Both with matching lid. Other names: honeypot, jar of honey. Parts of the National Ceramics Museum Chinchilla de Montearagón (Albacete, Spain).

Honey has many therapeutic properties (Havsteen 2002). It can be used externally because of its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. So, honey helps heal and prevent infection in wounds or superficial burns. It is also used in cosmetics (creams, facial masks, toners, etc.) due to its astringent and soothing qualities.


Due to its simple sugars, rapid assimilation, honey is highly caloric (about 3.4 kcal / g), making it useful as a source of quick energy.


Bees also add an enzyme called  glucose oxidase. When honey is applied on the wounds this enzyme causes the local release of hydrogen peroxide.

Colds, cough, sore throat

It is used for symptomatic relief of colds. Studies in people between 2 and 18 years with respiratory tract infections showed that it is able to relieve irritated membranes in the back of the throat and has antioxidant and antiviral effects. In addition, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) considers safe, out of infancy, to relieve cough.

The sweetness and texture of syrup would calm a sore throat, but also influence their antioxidant content and its antimicrobial effect. For children under one year is not recommended because of the danger of the development of botulism. The latter risk is negligible in older children.

Colds are fought in some sweetened with honey or lemon juice or the onion tea. The World Health Organization recommends the use of honey for the relief of cough in children over one year. However, honey does not show greater benefits than other drugs such as dextromethorphan.


It is an excellent natural preservative. However, not always healthy. Because it comes from wildflowers, there are some times and places where the honey produced by bees is highly toxic. The rhododendrons and azaleas nectar producing highly poisonous to humans but harmless to bees, producing honey and deadly. In some regions of the hives are emptied immediately after the season of flowers, removing any debris to prevent accidental poisonings. There are stories of poisonous honey use as a weapon of war in antiquity, but are not corroborables. This honey poisoning is very difficult to find. The shape of the azalea flower the bees makes it difficult to access the nectar, and the time when the bloom is almost always other flowers attractive to bees.

It is highly durable, does not expire. Thanks to its high concentration of sugar, kills bacteria by osmoticlysis. The airborne yeasts can not thrive in honey because of the low moisture content. Shipments of human bodies in ancient times were dipped in honey, for example Alejandro Magno was moved from Babylon toAlejandría in Egypt in 323 BC. and the Agesilao II, king of Esparta, from Egypt to his native city in 360 BC., using honey to prevent decomposition. The preservative effect of honey is due to its low concentration of water and is identical to that required for the continued conservation of candy and fruit in syrup where the sugary water content decreases.


Honey (like other sweeteners) can also be extremely dangerous for babies.. This is because when mixed with non-acidic digestive juices of the child creates an ideal environment for growth spores Clostridium botulinum, Which produce toxins. Spores of botulismare among the few bacteria that survive in honey, but are also widely present in the environment. Although these spores are harmless to adults, due to your heartburn, digestive system of young children is not developed enough to destroy them, so that the spores could potentially cause infant botulism.For this reason it is advisable not to feed honey or other sweetener to children under 12 months.

Chemical composition

The most common components of honey are shown in the following table:

component rank typical content
water 14 - 22 % 18%
fructose 28 - 44 % 38%
glucose 22 - 40 % 31%
sucrose 0,2 - 7 % 1%
maltose 2 - 16 % 7,5%
other Sugars 0,1 - 8 % 5%
proteins y amino acids 0,2 - 2 %  
and other organic acids
0,5 - 1 %  
minerals 0,5 - 1,5 %  
ash 0,2 - 1,0 %  

Moisture is a key component for the conservation of honey. While the moisture percentage remains below 18% nothing can grow therein. Above this value may appear fermentation processes.

The mineral content is very small. The most common are calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus and potassium. Also present are about half the existing amino acids, organic acids (acetic acid, citric acid, etc.) and B complex vitamins, vitamin C, D and E. Honey also has a considerable variety of antioxidants (flavonoids and phenolic).

Related products

Together with the honey bees produce other important products: wax, the royal Jelly, and the propolis.

Font: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miel