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honey,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).
a sweet syrupy substance elaborated for food by worker bees, primarily from the nectar of flowers; a valuable human food product.
According to the natural source, a distinction is made between floral honey (from nectar) and honeydew honey (from sweet secretions on the leaves and stems of plants). The floral honeys include those obtained from linden, buckwheat, clover, sun-flower, willow herb, and other plants. The chemical composition of honey depends on the species of plant from which it is derived, climatic conditions, and the method of commercial processing. Floral honey is 13-20 percent water, over 80 percent carbohydrates (principally glucose and fructose; also sucrose, maltose, and others), 0.4 percent proteins, and 0.3 percent ash. Honey contains organic acids (malic, citric, gluconic), enzymes (amylase, catalase, invertase), aromatic and mineral substances (K, Na, Ca), small amounts of vitamins (B2, PP, C, B6, H, K, and E), alkaloids, and pigments.
Nectar that is freshly deposited in the cells of a honeycomb has a fluid consistency. As the water is evaporated, the nectar ripens, thickens, and becomes viscous. The enzyme invertase converts the sucrose in the nectar into glucose and fructose. After the honey ripens, the bees seal up the honeycombs with wax caps. The honey extracted from the honeycombs gradually crystallizes upon storage. First the surface crystallizes, and then the crystals gradually form toward the bottom. There are white (from willow herb), yellow (from white acacia, sainfoin, linden, sunflower), and dark brown (from buckwheat, heather) honeys. Most honeys are sweet, but some are stringent; the aroma and taste depend on the honey’s origin. The aggregate of flavor and aroma is called the bouquet of the honey. The viscosity of honey varies: acacia honey is fluid, and honeydew honey is sticky. Honeydew honey (and floral honey mixed with a considerable amount of honeydew) is harmful to bees.
Commercial honey is obtained from the combs by centrifugation in an extractor and sometimes by pressing. Honey is rarely sold in the honeycomb. Sometimes different varieties of honey are mixed to normalize the thickness and to obtain the desired aroma, color, and flavor. Barrels made of linden, beech, plane, willow, cedar, and alder serve as containers for honey. Honey turns dark from oak barrels and acquires a tarry odor from barrels of coniferous varieties. Honey is stored on premises that are free of other odors. Honey is valuable as a dietary and therapeutic agent (for example, to treat emaciation). It is also used in the food industry.
REFERENCESKablukov, I. A. O mede, voske, pchelinom klee i ikh podmesiakh, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1941.
Temnov, V. A. Tekhnologiia produktov pchelovodstva. Moscow, 1967.
Mladenov, S. Med i medolechenie. Sofia, 1969. (Translated from Bulgarian.)
What does it mean when you dream about honey?
The sweet taste of honey is like the sweet taste of success. As a symbol, honey also means too much sweetness (“dripping like honey”). A dreamer who experiences this symbol might need to be less vulnerable and more honest in communicating with others.