Honey Synonyms, Biological Source, Geographical Source, Preparation for the Market, Properties, Standards and Uses

Synonyms : Madhu, Honey Purified, Mel

Biological Source of Honey

Honey is a sugar secretion deposited in honey comb by the bees, Apis mellifera, Apis dorsata, and other species of Apis, belonging to family Apidae, order Hymenoptera. Geographical Source. Honey is produced in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, California and India.

Preparation for the Market

The nectar of the flowers is a watery solution containing 25% sucrose and 75% water. The worker bee sucks this ectar through its hollow tube of mouth (proboscis) and deposits in honey-sac located in abdomen. The enzyme invertase present in saliva of the bee converts nectar into invert sugar, which is partially utilised by the bee and the remaining is deposited into honey comb. Honey comb is smoked to remove the bees and honey is obtained by applying the pressure to it or allowing it to drain naturally. The honey of commerce is heated to 80°C and allowed to stand. The impurities which float over the surface are skimmed off and liquid diluted with water to produce honey of 1.35 density. Natural honey has the density of 1.47. Many-a-time, honey is extracted from the comb by centrifugation. It must be free from foreign substances. Honey is liable to fermentation, unless it is suitably processed. Honey is heated to 80°C before it is sent to the market, so as to avoid fermentation. It should be cooled rapidly or else it darkens in colour on keeping. If necessary (and if not prepared by centrifugation method), honey is required to be filtered through wet cloth or flannel.

Physical Properties of Honey

Color – Pale Yellow to yellowish-brown
Odour – Characteristic, Pleasant
Taste – Sweet and Faintly Acid
Weight per ml – 1.35 – 1.36 g
Specific rotation- +3º to -10º
Total Ash – 0.1 to 0.8%
It has to Pass limit test for chloride and sulphate
It is syrupy thick liquid, tracent when fresh and on keeping it become opaque and granular due to crystallization of glucose.
It is soluble in water and insoluble in Alcohol

Chemical Constituents of Honey :

Honey is an aqueous solution of glucose 35% (+ 3%), fructose 45% (± 5%) and sucrose about 2%. The proportion of sugar may vary depending upon the source of nectar and the enzymatic activity responsible for converting nectar into the honey. The other constituents of honey are maltose, gum, traces of succinic acid, acetic acid, dextrin, formic acid, colouring matters, enzymes (invertase, diastase, inulase) and traces of vitamins, Proteins and pollen grains from various flowers are also found in honey.
Since, honey is a saturated solution of sugar, on keeping, it starts crystallising. A product which contains crystallised dextrose is called as Granulated honey. Heating of honey serves the purpose of minimising the granulation.
Artificial invert sugar, an adulterant of honey contains furfural which is detected by Fiche’s test. It gives instant red colour with resorcinol in hydrochloric acid.

Uses of Honey :

Honey is used as a demulcent and sweetening agent. It is readily assimilated and hence is a good nutrient to infants and patients. It is antiseptic and applied to burns and wounds. It is a common ingredient of several cough mixture, cough drops and vehicle for ayurvedic formulations. Recently, it is used in preparation of creams, lotions, soft drinks and candies also. India has only exploited 10 % of its honey potential. India is producing 11000 tonnes of honey per annum, Per capital consumption of honey in India is only 8.0 gms while in Germany is 1800 gms. 
According to Khadi and Village Industries Commission, absence of modern technology inadequate marketing and infrastructure for manufacture of honey are the reasons for poor development.