What a Wonderful Substance is Honey



Honey is amazing stuff. It is a great all-purpose natural sweetener that the body usually doesn’t have a great deal of difficulty digesting. It contains substances that give it antibiotic properties, to the point that in a pinch, it can be applied to minor cuts, scrapes and punctures to both disinfect them and to hasten healing. There is a lot more facts about honey and honey bees that most people either don’t know or have never thought about, though.

Honey does contain glucose, but most of the sugar comes in the form of fructose or fruit sugar. Raw honey is healthier than regular honey, because it is not heated above 115 F, so the enzymes aren’t destroyed. Among the substances that honey contains are antioxidants, so honey may be useful in preventing or fighting cancer.

Most honey that is sold in stores comes from European honey bees. However, there are more than 25,000 species of bees in the world, only four of which produce honey. In recent years, populations of European honey bees have started dwindling and entire hives have been lost, in large part due to diseases. The American honey bee is mostly immune to many of those diseases.

Not only is honey the only edible substance (for people) that is produced by an insect, it is also the only food that apparently never spoils. Honey found in clay jars inside Egyptian tombs and carbon dated at over 4,000 years old was still edible. It was crystallized, however. This said, if honey absorbs enough moisture, it can ferment, which isn’t the same thing as spoiling.

Crystallization occurs when the honey is at the right temperature for the sugars to form crystals. Crystallized honey isn’t spoiled. If it is thoroughly heated to no more than 115 F, it will normally become a liquid again that is perfectly good to eat.

One of the properties of honey is that it has the ability to absorb and hold on to moisture. This is useful in baking because if honey is used instead of sugar, breads, cakes and cookies tend to remain moister longer. Remember that the next time you bake chocolate chip cookies. If you like soft chocolate chip cookies, use honey instead of sugar.

Most of the honey that is sold in stores isn’t pure honey even if the label says that it’s pure. Other sweeteners, most often corn syrup, are usually added. This is mostly to increase profits, since corn syrup is much less expensive to produce than honey. By law, the honey can be sold as “pure honey” as long as it contains less than 5 percent of the additives.

If the honey is pure, it will usually be slightly cloudy, even after filtration. The cloudiness comes from beeswax and pollen contained in the honey. Adding corn syrup can cause the wax and pollen to separate out, resulting in a fluid that is transparent, though colored.

According to the American Beekeeping Federation, on average, a worker bee lives no longer than eight weeks and in that time, it will produce about one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey. The main cause of their death, though, is that their wings wear out.

The Utah County Beekeepers Association adds another interesting tidbit: 

“To make one pound of honey, the bees in the colony must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles and will be the lifetime work of approximately 768 bees.”

Honey and honey bees are interesting topics and both are astonishing in many ways. Hopefully you now know more about both than you did before you started reading this.


  1. Gil Camporazo

    It is a good and very informative piece of information. I have been using honey every day for two months now. It is too costly. I use it to sweeten my cup of oats, as a spread on bread.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Yes, it costs a lot, but it is so much healthier than sugar. If it was less expensive, I’d buy it by the gallon, and I’m not joking.

    2. Gil Camporazo

      It is deserving to have a stock of honey. I buy only by the bottle. Two bottles for a month is enough for me to consume. It could only be drained when my grandchildren use it as a bread spread.

    3. Rex Trulove Post author

      I just caught myself in the trap of not thinking in perspective and confess that I have to work on that. A quart/liter of honey here costs a little less than $20. That seems expensive, since sugar costs about $3 for 4 pounds. However, fast food hamburgers, fries and soft drinks for the family and me is easily more than $20 and isn’t healthy, ignoring for the moment that we don’t eat at fast food places. It costs us more than that to buy the gasoline to go to the nearest large town. If my wife didn’t cut my hair, a hair cut would cost more than a bottle of honey. All things taken in perspective and provided that we are careful not to use the honey for everything, honey all the sudden doesn’t seem all that expensive. 🙂

    4. Gil Camporazo

      If it costs $20, that is equivalent to Php900 pesos. The poor couldn’t afford. To spend that much, you are considered as wealthy.

    5. Rex Trulove Post author

      It is a lot of money even in the states and poor people usually aren’t able to buy it here, either. I’m poor, though I have more than many other people around here. Still, when I put it in perspective, I realize that I should buy more of it than I do.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      A lot of people eat far more sugar than they should, and if they ate more honey in place of the sugar, they would be healthier. I just find it very interesting to think about some of the facts about honey that I shared here and enjoy sharing. 😀

  2. Andria Perry

    I watched a show called ” live free or die” last night, a couple brought hives home and were getting the honey to sell or barter with. Around here I do not see many honey bees, I think that the huge population of hornets is the reason, I learned that a hornet will kill all the bees.

    Also I think that although I am living what is considered to be the country, I am still closer to town than you are and we still get the pollution and insect sprays because of living near a populated area of the river.

    I would love to raise honey bees.

    I shared on stumbleupon.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      More and more people here in the states are starting to use American honey bees, though they don’t produce as much honey as European honey bees. Part of the reason is that they are far more resistant to the hornets and wasps that live in the US (as well as being resistant to the diseases). The pesticides are a major problem, though. Most pesticides that are used, regardless of what they are used for, are deadly to honey bees. While the insect pests can cause a lot of damage, proven by the damage done by grasshoppers around here, killing the bees can cause more damage. 80-90% of the fruits, vegetables and grains grown in the US rely on honey bees for pollination. If there is no pollination, entire crops fail.

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