Honey is a sweet treat. In fact, it is man’s oldest sweetener. Honey is a medical resource used before modern medicine became established. It may not replace many of the technological methods currently practiced in hospitals, but it can certainly match some of the medication prescribed by physicians.
Honey is composed of sugars like glucose and fructose and minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chloride, sulfur, iron and phosphate. It contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3 all of which change according to the qualities of the nectar and pollen. Besides the above, copper, iodine, and zinc exist in it in small quantities. Several kinds of hormones are also present in it.
Honey is a sweet food made by certain insects using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by bee keepers and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bees and insects has distinctly different properties.
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. Currently, there are only seven recognized species of honey bee with a total of 44 subspecies though historically, anywhere from six to eleven species have been recognized.
Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.
Honey is secreted 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, people have been able to semi-domesticate the insects, and harvest excess honey. In the hive, there are three types of bee: a single female queen bee, a seasonally variable number of male drone bees to fertilize new queens, and some 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees.
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 process, they release Nasonov pheromones. These pheromones lead other bees to rich nectar sites by “smell”. Honeybees also release Nasonov pheromones at the entrance to the hive, which enables returning bees to return to the proper hive.
In the hive the bees use their “honey stomachs” to ingest and regurgitate 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 cells.
After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. However, the nectar is still high in both water content and natural yeasts which, these if 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 of much of the water from the nectar.] This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper, has a long shelf life and will not ferment if properly sealed.
PRESERVATION OF HONEY
After being removed from the comb, honey is very vulnerable, and the main losses of quality take place during preservation. Honey should not be preserved in metal containers, because the acids in the honey may promote oxidation of the vessel. This leads to increased content of heavy metals in honey, decreases the amount of nutrients, and may lead to stomach discomfort or even poisoning.
Traditionally honey was stored in ceramic or wooden containers; however glass is now the favored material. While ceramic vessels are still a viable option, honey stored in wooden containers may be discolored or take on flavors imparted from the vessels.
Traditionally honey was preserved in deep cellars, but not together with wine or other products. As honey has a strong tendency to absorb outside smells and moisture, it is advisable to keep it in clean, sealed containers and not, for example, uncovered in a refrigerator with other foods and products.
Optimal preservation temperature is 4 to 10 °C (39 to 50 °F). Honey should be stored in a dark, dry place, preventing it from absorbing any moisture. If excessive moisture is absorbed by the honey, it can ferment.
Excessive heat can have detrimental effects on the nutritional value of honey. Heating up to 37°C causes loss of nearly 200 components, part of which is antibacterial. Heating up to 40°C destroys invertase, an important enzyme. Heating up to 50°C turns the honey into caramel (the most valuable honey sugars become analogous to sugar). Generally any larger temperature fluctuation (10°C is ideal for preservation of ripe honey) causes decay.
There are various uses and benefit of HONEY such as:- Acne Remover, Cancer and Heart Disease Prevention, Skin Moisturizer, Weight loss. E.t.c
COMPILED BY: BABALOLA OLAITAN E.
REFERENCES: Wikipedia.com, islamic-world.net.
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