Beekeeping/Honey

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Extracted Honey

Honey is often the main desired product of beekeeping, this sweet viscous solution is the result of nectar that has undergone a physical change of having a majority of its moisture evaporated. Where as honeybees are not the only producers of honey, they are the only producers that create an excess that is harvestable.

Honey is mainly used for cooking or for the preparation of food and drink. Traditionally, honey is use as a sweetener in food, and is actually over one and a half times as sweet as standard table sugar. The added sweetness attributed to honey, and the fact that it will have a bouquet of different flavors based on the variety of nectar that was collected to make it, creates quite the attraction to cooks. Honey however is not limited to usage in edibles. Honey can also be used for many varying applications including usage in wine making, traditional medicine, cosmetics, and allergy relief among other uses.

Stop hand.svg Warning: Honey should not be fed to infants under the age of 1 or to people with sever immune system deficiencies. This is due to possibility of botulism spores being present. This level of botulism will have no ill effect on a healthy person.

Forms of Honey[edit]

The majority of people living in an industrialized country have only seen and tasted processed liquid honey. This is an unfortunate occurrence, as processed honey compared to fresh honey from the hive is both bland and unexciting. There exist several common forms of honey that everyone should have the chance to try and enjoy. If one has their own hive, or truly hunts around they would likely be able to find honey in the following forms:

Extracted
Extracted honey is honey in its standard liquid form. Although this category includes processed honey, raw honey is often the desired product. Raw honey is honey that has been extracted from the honeycomb that has not been possessed in any means, except possibly by simple filtration.
Comb
Comb honey is capped honey that is still contained within the wax comb created by the bees. It is a traditional favorite eaten wax and all, however it has more recently become difficult to easily find. Before the usage of extraction, nearly all honey came in this form.
Chunk
Chunk honey is a cross between comb honey and extracted honey. Observation shows that it is simply smaller pieces of comb honey suspended in extracted honey. This product is notoriously hard to find in most regions without a local beekeeper.
Creamed
Creamed honey is the generic name for liquid honey which has either has naturally crystallized or induced to crystallize by the addition of dextrose sugar or seed crystals of other crystallized honey. Creamed honey if often used as a spread for toast or bread, the only real difference between it and liquid honey is that it is more so solid and there by less likely to run.

A keen eye may also be able to spot various forms of adulterated honey, which often refers to a liquid honey that has had something added to it, most often a flavor, chopped nuts, or dried fruit. While conventionally not a standard form of honey, or even a variety, adulterated honey has become a favorite of some, and is worth mentioning.

Composition[edit]

Honey is a solution composed mainly of sugar and water with a smaller amount of other naturally occurring compounds. The specific composition of particular sample of honey is largely dependant on the nectar source used by the bees that produced it.

Component Concentration
Water ~15 - 18 %
Fructose (Fruit Sugar) ~38 %
Glucose ~ 30 %
Sucrose ~1 – 2 %
Disaccharides ~7 %
Trisaccharides and Carbohydrates ~4%
Minor Constituents ~.5 %

Properties of Honey[edit]

Consisting of mostly sugars suspended in water, honey has several interesting properties that can be exploited.

Hygroscopic[edit]

Honey is highly hygroscopic, meaning that it will pull moisture from the air and other mediums. Where as it is not advisable to use honey as a desiccant, many bakers incorporate honey into recipes as to keep baked goods moist. In atmospheres with a relative humidity greater than sixty percent, honey will get to work absorbing moisture from the air.

Fermentation[edit]

Because the moisture content of quality honey is less than seventeen percent, it will resist fermentation by most yeast. If desired, as it is sometimes, honey can be diluted to create mead, but even then osmophilic yeast must be used for proper success.

Thixotropy[edit]

Some honeys, due to a particular plant protein refined in the nectar of a few plants, show thixotrophic properties. This means that the honey will appear to be in a sold form, akin to creamed honey, but will actually revert to a liquid from when slight agitated. Once the agitation stops it will quickly return to solid. Some honeys that do this include pure grape fruit and pure ling honey.

Granulation[edit]

Give enough time and patience, all varieties of honey will eventually granulate. The speed of granulation is largely dependent on the ratio of fructose to glucose within the honey, the more glucose the quicker granulation will take place. Granulation time can also be decreased by heavy agitation, such as whipping or the inclusion of seed crystals. Honey can be returned to liquid form by applying heat, though granulated honey tastes just as good.

Antibacterial[edit]

Honey has been show to have certain antibacterial properties, some honeys such as Manuka honey show an even greater antibacterial strength. Because of this property honey was often spread on wounds, especially burns, to promote healing. Due the antibacterial and anti-fermentation properties of honey it is impervious to spoilage when properly kept.

Quick Honey Facts[edit]

  • Honey weighs approximately 12 pounds per gallon (~1.4 kg/l)
  • Honey is about 1.6 times as sweet as white sugar by volume
  • Average pH of honey is 3.9
  • There are about 1380 calories in a pound (12.7 kilojoules per gram) of honey.
  • To make just over 11 pounds (5 kg) of honey requires bees to travel a total distance roughly equal to a round trip from earth to the moon.
  • Canola, Caster and Golden Rod honey will all crystallize within days of extraction.
  • It often takes the equivalent amount of nectar as to make between 7 and 9 pounds of honey, to create one pound of beeswax, or between 7 and 9 kilogramss of honey, to create one kilogram of beeswax.