Honey is a healthy food that we use in all aspects of our lives and befits many recipes. Some people prefer putting honey on waffles, pancakes, and desserts for breakfast. Others prefer putting honey into their drinks like hot chocolate, lemonade, and so on. When we get sick, we put honey in our herbal tea, and it heals us. We even use honey to give our recipes extra flavor. Honey, which we can show as an alternative to sugar, is long-lasting and contains necessary nutrients for our body. Honey can go to sugar within a long time, but it will not spoil. Moreover, candied honey shows that honey is natural, and also that the candied part can sort itself out with hot water. So how and where is this honey made? Let’s examine how this honey comes to our table.
Bees chemically alter the nectar, which they collect from flowers and fruit buds, in their stomachs, then leave it in beehives to form honey. During this chemical change, bees convert sucrose into fructose and glucose. Then they place the composed substance in the cells in the hive and cover it with a waxy substance. However, the bees provide special ventilation by flapping their wings, and in their hives where evaporation occurs, the honey becomes liquid and fluid. Serious teamwork is necessary for this whole process. I mean, 900 thousand bees have to work a full day to collect half a kilogram of raw nectar. In addition, all nectars cannot convert into honey, and the essential source of these nectars is nutrients composed as a result of photosynthesis.
How Is Honey Produced? What Substances Does Honey Have In Its Structure?
Honey itself has 15 kinds of sugar. The feature of these sugars is that they enter the blood directly without the need for digestion. It also has enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other organic substances. Collecting bees have a region on their bodies called the honey stomach. Collecting bees store the nectar they collect from flowers in this area of their bodies. And in the process, they excrete certain enzymes. These enzymes allow the breakdown of saccharose, and glucose/fructose, found in the structure of nectar. In addition, honey contains some organic substances and organic acids like gluconic acid. These acids ensure that honey has a weak acid property, while other easily evaporating organic substances determine the taste and smell of honey.
There are worker bees inside the hive. In the next step, the collector bees share the nectar they collect with these worker bees in the hive. This is because these bees add more enzymes. Worker bees, on the other hand, take this nectar out and drink it again. As this process continues, enzymatic secretions mix with nectar, and the process of converting sucrose into glucose and fructose continues. Then worker bees transfer nectar to honeycombs. At this time, they dry the honey placed in the honeycomb and cover it with wax.
After this process, people filter the honey to recover from the wax. It is then bottled to come to our tables. In short, bees make honey in a hive, and then the honey is put in bottles. No substance is added to the honey, the content of which is pure, from the hive to the bottle.
The rate of water in honey is low. For this reason, when worker bees flap their wings, the hive is ventilated. In this case, it causes the excess water in the nectar accumulated in the honeycombs to evaporate. This water rate falls below about 20% in honey. The process of turning all this nectar into honey takes place between 1 and 3 days.
Can People Make Honey Without Bees?
The answer to this question is short. No, humans can’t make natural honey without bees. Because some enzymes that bees have, ensure that the nectar found in honey sacs turns into honey. This process allows bacteria and mildew to stay away from honey. As a result, even if people can make foods that look like honey in terms of consistency and flavor, people’s lack of enzymes used during the construction phase prevents them from making real and natural honey.
What Are The Benefits And Harms Of The Honey?
In this section, we will focus on the benefits and harms of honey we consume as food. Honey is a healing source thanks to the nutrients it has. Honey is also like medicine for some diseases. On the other hand, we add honey to our masks and peelings because honey is good for our skin. Furthermore, honey is a rich food because of the vitamins contained in it. Honey contains glucose and levulose fruit sugars, phosphorus, calcium, iron, copper, sodium chloride, manganese, magnesium, and vitamins B1, B2, a, C E, P, KK. The benefits of honey can be listed as follows:
- Honey strengthens the heart
- Helps lower cholesterol
- Regulates blood pressure
- It has blood-forming properties thanks to the iron in it
- Good for lung wounds helps to clean the liver and chest area
- Has the benefit of the eyes
- Good for stomach problems. Regulates stomach secretion. Feeds red blood cells and white blood cells in the blood
- Meets the body’s mineral salt needs
- Honey is good for constipation if consumed in the form of hot honey sorbet, good for diarrhea if consumed in the form of cold honey sorbet.
These are some of the benefits of honey. It is also useful when mixed with other nutrients. For example, consuming it with ginger is good for coughing. In addition, thanks to the magnesium in it, it is useful for the skin. Beauty masks made with honey make the skin shiny and soft. As with any nutrient, excessive consumption of honey has its harms. First of all, because of being sweet, it is necessary to pay attention to the consumption amount, especially for patients with diabetes. Here are some harms:
- If honey is not spent by the body as energy, it turns into fat. For this reason, a small amount of honey we should consume if we do not do the sport and remain motionless. Consuming honey a lot can raise the risk of conditions such as heart disease and obesity.
- Honey is not recommended for patients with diabetes, as it should limit its consumption in people with excess weight.
- It can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar in some people
- Consuming honey a lot can cause our body to absorb some nutrients, such as calcium.
All these negatives are harms that vary from person to person. Therefore, careful consumption of this natural food, which has more benefit than harm, is a remedy.
Some Countries That Produce And Consume The Honey In The World
In an unordered; Pakistan, China, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Russia, Spain, United States, South Africa, and Turkey are among the countries producing honey in the world. Let’s examine some of them:
Honey is widely used in medicine and gastronomy in China, as it has many benefits and creates resistance to diseases. This honey, having rich nutrients, is used in China in bakery products and various recipes. We can count China as the world’s largest producer and consumer of honey. More than 650 thousand tons of honey are produced annually in the country.
Honey produced in Turkey is the sweetest and purest honey, so we can say that Turkey is the best honey producer. The vast majority of pine honey is produced in the Aegean region. Turkey focuses on organic honey production, so the honey here is pure honey. Ordu, Muğla, and Adana are the provinces with the most honey production. Just as Turkey produces too much honey, it consumes too much honey. Especially because of honey’s benefits, it is more preferred than sugar. In addition, while adding honey to our food, some people prefer to add it to their skincare routine when they don’t want to use chemical products.
The most honey-producing regions in the U.S. are North Dakota and Montana. The crop is among the most valuable reaping, while Montana also has a harvest exceeding 31 million dollars. On the other hand, 38.2 million pounds of honey were produced in Dakota 3 years ago. In this place, the number of registered beekeepers is increasing every year. Moreover, in this cold province in winter, beekeepers take bees to warmer regions, and thanks to this situation, honey production continues throughout the year.
Spain is another country that both produces honey and consumes it a lot. Spain is an agricultural country with a good beekeeping industry. In ancient Spain, paintings made with honeycomb drawn on the walls of a cave and honey seeping out of it were found. Exports are quite common, as well. Spain also has multi-flower honey.
Honey production and export in Russia are much done, but due to the country’s economy and the rise in prices, honey consumption is low. In Russia, people use honey as an antiseptic, as a sweetener in the making of honey milk, and in recipes that vary according to preference.
What Is The Healthiest Honey In The World?
There are many varieties of honey. We can name them based on the source they obtained. Honey obtained from the nectar of flowers is called flower honey. These honey are also known as table honey and are sweeter. Examples include thyme honey, sainfoin honey, sunflower honey, linden honey, and chestnut honey. Bees can produce flower honey from one flower or multiple flowers, and flower honey is the most expensive type of honey. On the other hand, there is also honeydew honey. This type of honey consists of secretions secreted by insects found on trees such as pine, oak, beech, and spruce. Bees do not produce pine honey. These are sweet substances that the insect leaves behind after eating pine extracts. There is a difference between flower honey and pine honey. This difference is that flower honey crystallizes, but pine honey takes more time to crystalize or freeze. In addition, pine honey is darker in color. From a health point of view, pine honey has less glucose and fructose. In addition to this, the powerful antioxidant we know as pinocembrin is found only in pine honey. In other words, pine honey has more enzymes, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids than flower honey, while flower honey has more pollen content.
We can’t give a clear answer to the healthiest honey question because most honey content is more or less similar in terms of benefit. The point here we have to be careful about is that honey should not be fake honey. Whether honey is pure or not is understood as a result of tests conducted in laboratories. In short, we can say pine honey, thyme honey, and chestnut honey as examples of the healthiest honey. All of them have benefits that are good for our body separately:
Pine honey has numerous benefits. It is one of the most widely produced honey varieties in Turkey and mostly found in the city of Muğla, located in the Aegean region. Pine honey is beneficial for malaise, rheumatism, constipation, and anemia, lowers high blood pressure, nourishes hair follicles, is good for ear-nose-throat diseases, is very useful for stomach and digestion. Chestnut honey, unique honey, is produced in Turkey in the Black Sea country. Chestnut honey can relax the stomach, at the same time it strengthens the immune system and muscles due to it has Vitamins B, C, iron, and minerals. Chestnut honey also keeps us full for a long time and facilitates digestion. In addition, this type of honey prevents coughing with respiratory disease and heals sore throats. Its most important feature is cell regeneration, and so it is both consumed and can be used to make masks. This honey heals scars. Moreover, chestnut honey helps regulate blood sugar. On the other hand, thyme honey is good for asthma, stomach, liver diseases. After severe lung diseases such as pneumonia (winter fever), it is recommended to use for clearing the lungs as thyme honey has a breath-opening and chest-relaxing feature. Additionally, we can use thyme honey for healing inflammation in the blood, and bronchitis. Because of all these benefits and honey reduces sugar consumption, people prefer eating honey instead of sugar, and that’s why honey consumption is gradually increasing all over the world.