HONEY is produced by bees from nectar collected from flowers. Foraging bees collect sugar-rich flower nectar and return to the hive where they use their "honey stomachs" to ingest and regurgitate the nectar repeatedly until it is partially digested. Sucrose is digested and hydrolyse by bee digestive enzymes (amylase, diastase, invertase and gastric acid) into glucose and fructose. This newly formed simple sugar is high in moisture and natural yeast is then placed in the honeycomb could ferment so the bees beat their wings to evaporate water. Nectar has about 80 percent water while honey has only 18 – 21 percent water. The bees then seal the honeycomb with wax to prevent the honey from reabsorbing water from air and fermentation.
In the Philippines, honey is produced by various types of bees- 1) Apis dorsata, Wild honeybees or pukyutan, 2) Apis cerana or anig, 3) Tetragonula biroi or Stingless bees or Lukot and 4) Apis mellifera or the European honeybees. The European honeybees is popular type of bee being cultured here in Benguet since it is the most prolific honey producing species.
Benefits of Raw Honey
“Raw Honey” means honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling, or straining; and that has not been heated above 48 degrees centigrade during production or storage. It retains some of the pollen grains that pass through the screen during the training process thus retaining the benefits of pollen.
Healthy Sugars - Honey is basically a saturated mixture of two types of simple sugar - fructose and glucose. Since most of the water molecules are associated with these sugars, few remain available for microorganisms, making it a poor environment for their growth. If left uncovered, honey does not give off water but absorbs water from the surrounding air.
Honey contains vitamins, whereas sugar contains no vitamins. One hundred grams of granulated sugar contains more calories than 100 grams of honey. Honey consists of about 17-21 percent water (water having no calories), whereas granulated sugar contains no water.
All-Around Nutritiousness - Research shows raw honey is loaded with trace minerals, organic enzymes, and antioxidants. In addition to nutrients like vitamins B and C and magnesium, honey also contains pre- and probiotics, and an array of flavonoids and phenolic acids that serve as antioxidants.
Honey contains a number of different acids, including 18 amino acids, many different organic acids, as well as aliphatic and aromatic acids. The aromatic acids greatly contribute to the flavor of honey. Each flower have their unique flavor.
Antibacterial Benefits – Loaded with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that make it a powerful health package, raw honey is an antiseptic that never spoils as long as it is kept in an airtight container. Honey can kill or inhibit the growth of a wide range of bacterial and fungal species.
Hydrogen Peroxide - Honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase, which breaks down glucose sugars and generates hydrogen peroxide. It prevents the spoilage of unripe honey when the sugar concentration has not yet reached levels that are able to prevent microbial growth.
Since any increase of water of water can cause honey to go bad, the presence of glucose oxidase serves as an anti-spoiling mechanism.
And when honey is used topically for a wound dressing or other purpose, its dilution with body fluids produces hydrogen peroxide. As a result, hydrogen peroxide is released slowly and acts as an antibacterial agent.
When working with honey, make sure it is raw because pasteurization, which involves heating, kills the important enzymes that produce hydrogen peroxide. Heated honey is no more than empty calories devoid of nutritional value.
The Power of Osmosis - One of the benefits of raw honey is that it’s super effective on wounds. How? Honey is hygroscopic drawing moisture out of the environment and dehydrating bacteria of raw honey.
So, when applied to a wound, it acts like a dry sponge soaking up water and puss from an infection by osmosis. This, in turn, can help kill bacteria, since bacteria need liquid to proliferate.
Acidity - Honey is fairly acidic and remains acidic even when diluted, maintaining a pH of approximately 3.5. Very few diseases causing organism thrives in its environment.
Honey may be acidic, but, like lemons, it is alkaline-forming in the body. Once in the stomach, it can actually alkalinize your system. In general, your diet should be made up of about 70 percent alkaline-forming and 30 percent acid-forming food.
Alkaline-forming foods are crucial to your diet because they help neutralize the acidic waste produced naturally by cells, keeping your insides clean and supporting your immune system.
Bee Defensin 1 - Essentially these are ancient, natural antibiotics that team with antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria, fungi, and some viruses. Defensin 1 is a protein made by bees and added to the honey. It contributes to the antibacterial properties of honey. As a result of these findings, Defensin-1 may one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that can combat antibiotic-resistant infections raw honey.
While no single property is more important any other, the multifactorial nature of honey’s properties is the key to its magical and natural healing powers!
So next time you buy honey, chose raw honey over filtered/grocery honey. Better if you buy it from your local beekeeper. A golden rule in buy real raw honey – “How do you know is pure honey if you don’t know the beekeeper! The ethical beekeeper will guarantee as to the pureness of his product. Support your local beekeeper!