If you purchase an independently reviewed item through our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.
Honey is a product made by honeybees using their special organs. The golden, thick, and sweet liquid called honey is made from nectar sourced from flowering plants. The honey is made solely for the benefit of the honeybee colony. Humans have however welcomed themselves to this banquet, through the domestication of bees and the harvesting of honey in wild bee colonies. In this article, we’ll discuss some fun and interesting facts about honey.
Facts about Honey
1. Honey is Made by an Insect and Consumed by Humans
Honey is the only sweet and natural product that is made by an insect and can be consumed by humans. It is nectar subjected to some serious work from honeybees before ultimately turning into the sweet substance we call honey. The nectar collected from flowering plants is passed through the upper aero-digestive tract of honeybees and dehydrated in the process. The nectar with its water content of between 70 to 80 percent has to be dehydrated and mixed with bee enzymes to increase the acidity of the nectar and kill bacteria. It is then stored and sealed off in the wax cells to extend its longevity.
2. Instinctive Fanning and Sealing of Honey
Honeybees have amazed scientists with their ingenious honey-making skills. They have mastered the art of honey-making and nest-building. Fanning is the process the honeybees apply to eliminate the 80% moisture in nectar while converting it to honey. The bees use their wings and collectively fan the cells containing the honey. The honey will also be sealed using wax thus ensuring it can stay in good condition for many years. This shows honeybees have known for a long time the best way to preserve honey. They also naturally understand the required moisture level of 20% for honey to be in good condition.
3. Honey is Made by Exceptional Artists and Scientists
Honeybees are the only existing insects on the planet that make perfectly-shaped shaped cells for their young ones, commonly referred to as brood. They also use the hexagonally-shaped cells to store honey for feeding the colony before and during periods of shortage. The cells are well-aligned to ensure ease of movement among the worker bees when tending to the brood and when depositing nectar into the cells. In this regard, honeybees are exceptional artists. The bees are scientists since they understand the right pH for honey to deter bacteria. The bees ingest nectar and mix it with the enzymes within their system. This changes the pH of the nectar to 3.9% thus eliminating bacteria and other disease-causing micro-organisms.
4. Honey is a Teamwork Product
The honeybee will without a doubt take home the hero’s cup of being an exceptional team player. Almost every task in the honeybee colony is completed through teamwork. Honey is nectar that is turned into honey after being collected by a worker bee on the field, carrying it on its abdomen then passing it from its mouth to another worker bee’s mouth once in the hive. This mouth-to-mouth transfer goes on until the honey is capped within the cells. The fanning and sealing of honey in cells are also done collectively. Tending to brood and the queen bee is also done collectively. The worker bees will also defend the hive from intrusion and the life of a single bee can be easily sacrificed to guarantee the survival of the colony.
5. It Takes 45 days to Make Good Quality Honey
It will take 45 days for the honeybees to make excellent quality honey. And to achieve this each it takes the collective effort of the worker bees. These are primarily the bees in charge of collecting nectar from flowers, depositing it in special organs in their bodies, and ferrying this back to the beehive. Within the beehive worker bees with specialized tasks take over until the final storage and packaging of the honey in the cells. This means a worker bee can get old and die before completing the process of making honey given that it can only live for about 5 to 6 weeks.
6. Honey Has Been in use for More Than 8,000 Years
Honey was not discovered just recently. Historical artifacts depict the use of honey 8,000 years ago. Evidence dating back to the Stone Age shows early human paintings with honey being used as a delicacy. Honey has also been in use as traditional medicine in most early societies the world over. Honey beats all other products when it comes to its universal use. You will find it across almost every industry ranging from health, beauty, home care, catering, and many others.
7. Honey Has Strong Antioxidant Properties
Honey is rich in a wide variety of compounds that give it antioxidant properties. These include enzymes, phenolics, organic acids, and peptides. It is the presence of these compounds that make honey a universal remedy for most health problems – inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular issues, and many others. In total, there are about 200 compounds that are found in honey.
It is also worth mentioning that honey can have many other unique products depending on the composition of the plants where the nectar is carried from. However, natural honey irrespective of where it comes from, contains similar compounds, primarily flavonoids. All these compounds give honey its anti-oxidant properties.
8. Honey is Food and Medicine
Honey can be regarded as the only product made by an insect that is food and medicine at the same time. This is made possible by the complex chemical substances that are contained in honey. It has been in use as both food and medicine since the ancient times. The various chemical and laboratory tests conducted by scientists in the past few years have affirmed the potent substances contained in honey. Honey is therefore without doubt one of the best products for countering certain ailments. It is also a natural product and that means it can be taken by anyone. Honey not only contains proteins and traces of fat but is comes with helpful nutrients such as Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Potassium, and Sodium. It also has various enzymes, making it a strong antioxidant.
9. Honey has Many Colors
Honey, particularly liquid honey, can be best described as a product with many colors. This is attributable to the fact that the composition of the product hugely relies on the kind of plants the bees forage on. Its color will thus depend on the botanical origin of the honey, storage conditions, and age. You will therefore find honey color varying from clear to colorless, black to an amber black, yellow, reddish undertone, greenish, grayish, and bright yellow. It is also common for stored honey to turn lighter in color due to crystallization.
10. Honey Will Never Expire
Honey will never spoil but there is a disclaimer to that. It will all depend on how well the honey has been stored. The container chosen for storage and the condition of the room will also determine the longevity of the honey. Some of the aspects of honey that tend to be altered over time include flavor and aroma. The viscosity of the product will also change over time depending on how well it has been kept.
Other factors that come into play include any unwelcome guests such as ants and other invaders. The fact that honey is so sweet draws many invaders to it. With all these factors kept in check, well-stored honey will last for thousands of years. It should be stored in a tightly closed container and within room or cool temperatures. It is also important to keep it in glass or food-safe plastic containers. Honey should not be kept in metallic containers for too long because it can oxidize. It should also be kept away from direct sunlight. Avoid exposing the honey to air when it is not in use.
11. Honey Has Never Lost its Value
The value of honey has never dropped but rather gone up since its discovery. Traditional societies valued honey and was used for paying the price for a bride. Some of the early communities that highly valued honey included the Chinese, Romans, Egyptians, Greeks, and Assyrians. As a matter of fact, most religions hold the belief that those that die while adhering to their religions will be promoted in the afterlife to a place full of honey and milk.
According to the US honey market in 2021, the average price of honey was set at USD $2.54 for a pound. This was an increase from USD $2.1 a pound from the previous year. At the time, the global honey market value was estimated to be about USD $8.58 billion. This figure hit about USD $9.01 billion by the end of 2022. Most industries including laboratories and food manufacturers make use of honey. It is therefore safe to say honey will continue to soar in value even in the coming years.
12. Honey is an Organic Product
Honey is a natural product that is made by honeybees. It is made from nectar collected from flowering plants. The bees will also make honey using plant secretions or secretions from insects that suck plants. The bees will collect the nectar and then transform it into honey by combining it with their own special substances.
Pure or raw honey may be regarded as a natural product and refers to the honey that has been subjected to pasteurization or heat treatment. It is normally rich in pollen and easily crystallizes. You might not find this type of honey in your local supermarkets since it crystallizes quickly and hence is not good for these stores. Raw honey might not be commercially labeled by the regulator in the US as organic just yet, but any honey that is free from chemicals and antibiotics is regarded as organic.
Any honey that is produced by apiaries situated about 5 to 8 miles away from houses, factories, roads, and commercial farms will qualify to be organic honey. This means thus that a number of honey producers might meet this requirement, meaning their honey can be regarded as organic.
13. Honey is Recyclable
Honey can be recycled and reused. You can save honey for reuse in many ways. For instance, honey makes great beauty products. It is popularly used for making face masks after mixing them with oatmeal and water. It also does an excellent job as a whole-body moisturizer when mixed with cider vinegar. Combining honey with olive oil results in a hair product.
Honey can also be used for treating wounds and inflammations. You can therefore still use honey for many other purposes when you feel it is no longer good enough for your daily consumption. Beekeepers can also use honey to feed honeybee colonies during seasons of nectar scarcity. That only proves that honey can never run out of use. It can never be composted or wasted.
14. Honey is Environmentally Friendly
Unlike many other products out there that have been through complex industrial processes that result in pollution, honey is a natural product made by bees. The honeybees will collect nectar and pollen from many tree species of flowering plants. The process itself of collecting nectar and pollen helps pollinate many crops and plants, thus making it possible for these trees to survive and thrive in the ecosystem.
Bees play an important role in the environment and are widely used in plantation agriculture across the US and many other countries. In fact, this has led to the popularity of commercial pollination services. Honey-making can therefore be best described as a natural process that adds value to the environment instead of impacting it negatively. Apiculture can help in the continued effort of boosting environmentally-friendly agricultural practices.
15. Honey is a Universal Product
Honey produced in one part of the world is usable in any other part of the world. Honey is the only product that defies cultures, traditions, practices, religions, races, ages, classes, and many other factors. Honey is a universal product that has been in use for more than 8,000 years. Ancient communities used it for many purposes and yet the modern world still uses honey for so many purposes.
It is used in almost any industry you can think about presently. These include the cosmetic industry, the medical field, food stores, industrial applications, and so many others. You can buy and sell honey in any part of the world without experiencing any kind of rejection. This could be the only product that can be used or consumed by everyone.
16. Crystallization and Foaming never Spoils Honey
Honey is a strong product that will only be spoiled when not properly stored. The crystallization and foam that occur in honey are natural and do not mean the honey is expired or spoiled. White foam will usually form on the surface of honey due to its movement from one place to another. These are ideally air bubbles and can also form when honey containers are flipped upside down. It will also form immediately after the honey bottle is kept upright after pouring out its content.
As for crystallization, this natural process will occur after about three months. The stored honey will form crystals inside the bottle due to the separation of sugars from water. This can be reversed by placing the honey jars or bottles inside a pot of warm water, resulting in the liquidation of the crystallized honey. The foam and crystals that form in honey and do not suggest the honey is spoiled and you should therefore be worried about either.
17. Honey is Not Made by All Bees
There exist many species of bees. Unfortunately, most people are familiar with the honeybee and they might not really be aware that there are so many other useful types of bees. It is also worth mentioning that not all bees you see live in colonies and make honey. There are those that live and thrive as solitary bees and do not make honey at all. This means they have to rely on nectar for their daily survival.
Consequently, the lack of flowering plants, especially during the seasons of shortages poses a serious risk to this strain of bees. Most species of bees do not make honey and that makes up about 95 percent of the 20,000 species of bees existing in nature. Only 5 percent of the 20,000 species of bees make honey. It is therefore important to appreciate the value of the honey bee when it comes to honey production. Furthermore, a single honeybee will only manage to make about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey for its entire lifetime. That is worth remembering the next time you scoop a full spoon of honey for your consumption. All bees do not also sting just as a few make honey.
18. Honey Might Ruin Metal
Honey is ideally an acidic product to some extent. The bees will naturally increase the pH of the honey for it to be safe for use. That means bacteria and other harmful microorganisms will never survive in this kind of environment. The acidity also ensures the honey harvested for human use is safe. However, there is a bad side to this. The honey can corrode metal over long periods of time. This will depend on the duration of exposure to the honey as well.
It is recommended that honey be stored in stainless steel containers as well as plastic ones. These tend to be ideal given the acidity of the honey. It makes it possible to keep the honey in good condition for long enough. There exists a number of honey storage equipment you can buy for that purpose. This also means honey might not erode or ruin ordinary kitchenware items such as spoons when used to stir or spread the honey. This is due to the fact that these items are cleaned immediately after use. It is thus safe to use these items when applying honey.
19. A Product in Many Forms
Honey may originate from bees irrespective of the part of the world where it is sourced. However, honey from different parts of the globe may never be the same. The nectar source plays an important role and will directly affect the quality of honey. This means the nectar source or the plant used will affect the color, taste, and sweetness of the final product.
Globally, about 300 different types of honey are produced. All these have the characteristic sweet taste but they all have some unique properties that include color and flavor. Honey has therefore been broadly categorized into a number of types: clover honey, acacia honey, wildflower honey, alfalfa honey, buckwheat honey, creamed honey, manuka honey, eucalyptus honey, orange blossom honey, and Baker’s special honey. The honey color will allude to the flavor of the honey. For instance, lighter-colored honey tends to be delicate and mild in taste. Conversely, darker-colored honey has a stronger flavor.
20. It takes Individual Effort as well to Make Honey
The entire honey-making process may require the collective effort of the honeybee colony. However, it all boils down to the effort of an individual worker bee. Without the hard work, sheer determination, and unrelenting effort of a single worker bee, beekeepers would never enjoy the sweet benefits that come with keeping bees.
The single worker bee has to visit 50 to 100 flowers during a single trip while collecting nectar and pollen. Of this, she will manage to make about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey for her entire lifetime. Needless to point out that 768 bees have to visit 2 million flowers and cover a distance of 55,000 miles for them to make only 1 pound of honey. A single colony of honeybees usually produces 60 to 100 pounds of honey annually. Of this, humans will harvest almost 80% of it, leaving behind the rest for the survival of the honeybee colony.
In a way, humans seem to be treating the honeybees unfairly. The honeybee colony requires honey reserves for winter, refuelling worker bees, and for fueling drones during their mating flights. The beekeeper should take the honey in moderation to avoid impacting the honeybee colony.
Honey is not only a delicious natural sweetener but also a fascinating substance with a rich history and numerous health benefits. From its origins in ancient civilizations to its diverse uses in modern times, honey continues to captivate our taste buds and intrigue our minds. Its intricate production process, the extraordinary efforts of honeybees, and the incredible composition of this golden elixir make it truly remarkable.
Additionally, the wide range of flavors, colors, and textures found in different types of honey adds to its allure and makes it a versatile ingredient in various culinary creations. Moreover, the myriad health benefits associated with honey, including its antimicrobial properties, soothing effect on sore throats, and potential antioxidant effects, make it a popular choice for natural remedies and a staple in traditional medicine practices.
Whether you’re drizzling it over pancakes, using it in a homemade face mask, or simply admiring the intricate honeycomb patterns, honey is undoubtedly a remarkable gift from nature. So, the next time you enjoy a dollop of this sweet nectar, savor the taste and appreciate the wonders of honey—the product of nature’s sweetest laborers, the bees.