Honey is sweet, sticky food substance produced by honeybees and related tropical insects, like bees ants, carpenter ants, and bumble bees. It is produced by the exhalation of queen bees from their hives. Bees create honey by the sugary fluid excreted by glands at the base of the hive, by enzymatic action, regurgitation, and by water evaporating. A hexane-based solvent is applied to the surface, allowing it to pass through a strainer into a container. A small quantity of the concentrated honey is transferred to a wooden spoon for further stirring.
Raw honey is not in itself a food but contains a complex mixture of enzymes, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and starches. All living cells contain sugar and honey is one of the richest and most varied sources of natural sugars. A bee collects pollen from plants in the neighborhood and carries it back to the hive where workers collect it, dry it and package it into small jars or baskets. Honey also is the best source of nourishment for bees, other insects, and birds.
The enzymes in honey are necessary for breaking down starches and fatty acids that are part of the complex carbohydrates found in plant cell walls. The raw material they use is called flower nectar. Flower nectar is carried to the hive where it is used to feed bees. During the winter months when there is no supply of plant sap, the beekeepers collect and mix this nectar with store-bought sugar syrup. This is mixed with flower nectar and honey is created.
All parts of the plant are consumed by bees except the white pith, which is retained by the worker bees for use in the hive. Only about ten percent of the honey is actually made by the worker bees. Queen bees take care of the rest. It can also be processed in another way to make honey-flakes that are harvested by the consumer. Large quantities of raw honey are collected every day from all parts of the world by commercial beekeepers.
There are two general types of honey: raw and pasteurized. Raw honey is produced by the bees in the hive by extracting honey by either manual or electronic methods. When it is extracted manually, it is often blended with water to dilute its flavor and improve its aroma. Raw honey is light in color and has a pleasant sweetish taste.
Pasteurized honey is made by heating raw honey to at least 135 degrees Fahrenheit and then passing it through a heat exchanger where the air is replaced by heat. Then it is passed through a centrifuge to remove the excess liquid, and left to cool in the hive. All honey must undergo some further processing before it is ready for sale.
The quality and flavor of raw honey may vary depending on where it comes from, the quality of the beekeepers and the procedures used to extract it, among other factors. Honey that comes from locally grown bee colonies may be more flavorful than one obtained from farms in other areas because the bees are not exposed to pesticides or other contaminants. Therefore, you may find that the price of raw honey is less expensive than pasteurized honey from a nearby farm. On the other hand, raw honey may contain fewer pollen types than the version that is pasteurized, resulting in a honey that is not as pure as the one that is pasteurized.
One of the reasons why many people believe that raw honey is better for you than regular honey is that it is closer to its natural state. Perhaps this is because people are more likely to eat raw honey that comes from their gardens. Raw honey may contain more vitamins and antioxidants than regular honey.