Honey is a unique natural product made by honeybees and although it has been analysed is has proved impossible to make synthetic honey. Bees collect nectar from flowers and by adding enzymes which change the sugar content and evaporating off excess water, they convert it into honey.
Honeybees visit a wide range of nectar bearing plants, but to produce large quantities of honey bees need access to great numbers of flowers. In our area the fields of oil seed rape, wild white clover and field beans (and also phacelia) are excellent nectar sources. Sycamore, hawthorn and lime trees and wild plants such as dandelion, willowherb, blackberry and ling heather are also very good sources of nectar.
The characteristics of any sample of honey are peculiar to the plant species, or mixture of plant species from which it originates.
However a typical analysis is as follows:
Water – 17 – 19%
Fructose – 38%
Glucose – 32%
Sucrose – 1 – 2%
Other sugars – 8 – 9%
Pigments – 1%
Flavour and aroma substances
Honey is useful as a health food because the simple sugars, glucose and fructose, are easily absorbed into the system. For the same reason it is also an excellent source of quick available energy. The vitamins and trace elements it contains are also beneficial.
Since ancient times, honey has been used for medicinal purposes and most people know how soothing it is for a sore throat. Research has shown that honey may have even more beneficial properties than previously thought. Honey as a solution of sugars at high concentration, provides physical conditions which inhibit the multiplication of many kinds of bacteria. Honey also contains small amounts of hydrogen peroxide which is a powerful antiseptic. Due to these two characteristics, honey is a very effective dressing for wounds including burns.
Taken from the exhibition at Chain Bridge Honey Farm Visitor Centre