What Is Honey?

What Is Honey? – A Definition

Comb honey.Comb honey.

Honey is a sweet product made from flower nectar, combined with an enzyme secreted by honey bees, then concentrated by reducing moisture in the honeycomb cells.

A basic scientific formula is as follows:

Sucrose (nectar)
invertase (bee enzyme)
fructose + glucose (honey).

Find out how bees make honey.

Beekeepers take this product from hives once they can see the honeycomb cells have been capped (sealed) by the bees.

Some beekeepers then treat it through heating and filtering before it is stored in jars.

The honey harvested and consumed by humans is made by the honey bee, and not solitary or bumble bees.

Honey Presentations

What Is Raw Honey?

Raw honey is simply honey that has not yet been treated by the beekeeper through heating and filtering, as described above.

Liquid Honey:

Liquid honey is spreadable and especially easy to use in baking and to spoon onto pancakes.Liquid honey is spreadable and especially easy to use in baking and to spoon onto pancakes.

This is the honey format most of us are familiar with: that is, the liquid ‘runny honey’ you get in jars.

Comb Honey: 

Packaged honeycomb ready for sale.Packaged honeycomb ready for sale.

Did you know, even the beeswax comb can be eaten! This is honey, still in the comb.

Cut Comb: 

This is a combination of the two above! That is, liquid honey, with pieces of honeycomb remaining.

Crystallized Honey:

This is where some of the glucose component within the honey has crystallized.  You can read more detail here.

Buying Honey

You can buy honey in various presentations.  I tend to recommend purchasing from smaller, local suppliers where you can.  In some countries, contamination and the practice of mixing honey with corn syrup has meant that the general public have not always been buying the pure, natural product they thought they were getting. 

Purchasing certified organic honey is another way to ensure that what you are getting really is honey.

See my tips about buying honey, whether it be from your local beekeeper or the high street supermarket.

The Following Are Not Honey - Or Contain Little Actual Honey

Cactus Honey / Agave Nectar

Despite its name, Cactus Honey is not honey at all - this is simply another name for Agave Nectar - which is sap from the Agave plant.  The product label on this picture is clear, and describes the item as being from Prickly Pear, but note, no honey bees are involved in its creation.   Read more about Cactus Honey.

Powdered And Granulated Honey

Powdered and granulated honey tend to contain a large number of ingredients other than honey - the key is to check the label of the item you are thinking of purchasing to see what it contains, because they can quite different.  

Depending on the product, I have seen such offerings containing mostly refiners syrup (cane sugar) - and despite that, sometimes being sold at a premium price for what is mostly an inexpensive commodity food.  I recommend you always check the ingredient label before purchasing.  If you are happy, fine.

More Articles About Honey

It is thought there are many benefits of eating honey. To find out more about honey and honey nutrition, click on some of the links below.

You might like these

  • Honey And Allergies

    Honey And Allergies: Is there a role for honey in treating allergies? Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to honey? A look at the evidence.

  • Honey And Eczema

    Honey and eczema: Is there any clinical evidence to support the use of honey for treating eczema (atopic dermatitis)? A summary of a number of clinical papers.

  • Why Babies Can't Have Honey: Honey And Infant Botulism

    Why babies under 12 months old can't have honey (even if cooked). How and why honey can cause infant botulism. When is it okay to give a child honey?

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