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Definition: honey from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Sweet syrup produced by honey bees from the nectar of flowers. It is stored in honeycombs and made in excess of their needs as food for the winter. Honey comprises various sugars, mainly laevulose and dextrose, with enzymes, colouring matter, acids, and pollen grains. It has antibacterial properties and was widely used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome as a wound salve. It is still popular for sore throats, in hot drinks or in lozenges. In recent years, its value for the treatment of wounds has been ‘rediscovered’ and confirmed by clinical tests.


Summary Article: honey
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

sweet, viscid fluid produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers. The nectar is taken from the flower by the worker bee and is carried in the honey sac back to the hive. It is transformed into honey by enzymes produced in the honey sac, which convert the natural sucrose (a complex sugar) in the nectar into fructose and glucose (simple sugars). The sugary fluid is stored in open cells, which are capped with wax when the material has reached the consistency of honey. The formation of honey is accomplished by the evaporation of the excess water in air circulated by the moving wings of workers. The honey required for an average colony to maintain itself through a year has been estimated as being between 400 and 500 lb (180–225 kg). The excess of the hive's requirement is used by humans for food. Honey is marketed either in the comb or with the comb removed by straining, by centrifugal force, or by gravity. The flavor and color of honey depend upon the kind of flower from which the nectar was taken, e.g., linden honey, lavender honey, and wild rose honey. Much of that produced in the United States is the pale, delicately flavored alfalfa and clover honey. Among the numerous other blossoms yielding nectar are those of the basswood, buckwheat, orange, palmetto, sage, and tupelo. The leading producers of honey are China, Turkey, Argentina, Ukraine, and Russia. From earliest times until cane sugar became commercially important, honey was a major sweetening agent. Honey is easily absorbed and utilized by the body. It contains about 70% to 80% sugar; the rest is water, minerals and traces of protein, acids, and other substances.

  • See U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Science and Education Administration, Beekeeping in the United States (rev. ed. 1980).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

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