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Honey contains about 200 different ingredients. Honey bees make honey from nectar or honeydew in order to be self-sufficient. The composition of honey varies depending on what kind it is and it can be liquid or crystalline.

Honey has been used by humans since the Stone Age. Since the invention of sugar extraction from sugar beet or sugar cane , the importance of honey as a sweetener has declined enormously. Nowadays honey is mainly used as a bread spread. However due to its antibacterial properties, honey is, also used in the field of medicine (in the treatment of wounds).

The main ingredients in honey are: fruit sugar, glucose, water and other sugars, pollen, minerals, proteins, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and colour and flavour compounds. In Germany, honey is subject to the food law.

There are two kinds of honey : blossom honey (from the nectar of flowers ) and honeydew honey (from the excreta of plant sucking insects, and from plants’ secretions.

The following are examples of blossom honey: rape honey, acacia honey, dandelion honey, sunflower honey, heather honey, clover honey, chestnut honey and linden honey. Some examples of honeydew honey are: forest honey, pine honey and honey leaf.

Honey can be divided into groups according to the extraction method?: From the procedure honey is won there is strained honey, sliced honey, comb honey, drained honey, pressed honey and stamped honey.

Honey can pose a risk to humans. Honey can contain Clostridium botulinum spores. When ingested by infants, these spores can produce a toxin that can cause infant botulism. Pollen existing in honey also can cause allergic reactions.

Pollen is a floury substance, produced by seed plants. It consists of single grains (microspores) with a resistant wall (sporoderm). The sporoderm has an inner (intine) and an outer (exine) structure.

The cell is completely surrounded by the intine. The outer layer of the intine has a high pectin content, which allows easier detachment of the exine. The inner intine consists mainly of fibrils (cellulose). When the pollen grain germinates, the intine develops into a pollen tube.

The exine has two-layers and consists mainly of sporopollenin. The structure is determined by the pollen grain. Pollen grains vary in size, shape and surface structure, so that it is possible to identify what plant genus and species they come from. Pollen grains reach average sizes of between 10 and 100 microns. They have one or more apertures, which lack the outer layer of the exine so that the intine can grow through into a pollen tube.

Pollen grains are usually spread singly (monads) but may also be released into the air in groups of two or four (dyads or tetrads). Pollenkitt is capable of holding pollen grains together in groups. This can also be done with sticky threads of sporopollenin, cellulose or protein. Each 4 pollen grains are formed simultaneously in pollen sacs of pollen mother cells. The pollen sacs are situated in the anthers of the stamens. The innermost layer of the exine antheres forms and nourishes the pollen grains. Pollen is spread by wind, water or living organisms. This also leads to pollination.

For many people, wind-transported pollen is problematic because it can cause allergic reactions. Symptoms include: redness of the eyes and watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose (allergic rhinitis or hay fever). In the countryside, pollen concentration is at its highest in the morning, in the city, in the evening. Consequently rural inhabitants are advised to air between seven pm and midnight and city dwellers, between six and eight am.

Pollen is used in food production. It tastes sweet and has a high content of proteins with enzymatic function, vitamin B and over 20 amino acids. Pollen is thought to aid in the treatment of digestive problems, hair loss, potentially fertility problems, diseases of the nervous system, as well as hay fever.

Due to its durability, pollen can provide an insight into environmental issues of the past. The origin of a given honey can be determined with the aid of the pollen component.
Propolis is a mixture of different substances, that is mainly found in the openings, crevices and cracks of hives.

The base of propolis is a natural resin which is collected by honeybees, from buds or damaged areas on various trees, and is then processed and enriched.

As bees need a temperature of around 35 degrees Celsius to live together in the hive, good conditions prevail for the spread of diseases. Propolis is a plastic material and is therefore used to seal surfaces and even the smallest openings in the beehive. As a result of its composition, propolis has a strong antibiotic effect and kills fungi and microorganisms introduced into the hive.

Propolis is of importance medically. Nevertheless it is only used after cleaning and processing. Propolis preparations are subject to the law of medicines.

The areas in which propolis is used include the following: the treatment of inflammations in the oral cavity, cancer therapy, wound care, acne therapy, sunburn, dental hygiene, pain relief for mouth ulcers and strengthening of the immune system. In some pets it is used to fight or prevent worms.

A risk exists for people who are allergic to propolis. . Although in most cases, skin irritation and blistering can be observed, the occurrence of life-threatening conditions cannot be ruled out.
Royal jelly
Royal jelly is the name of a juice (secretions of the hypopharyngeal glands) with which honey bees feed their larvae and all of their queens. The whole brood of the hive are fed with royal jelly during the first three larval stages, thereafter, the larvae of the workers receive more honey or pollen, while the larvae of the queens are given royal jelly until the end of their development. Royal jelly contains amongst other things, carbohydrates, protein, B vitamins and trace elements.

The production of royal jelly takes place in specialized hives/ OR is a specialised form of beekeeping and involves more or less complicated procedures. The royal jelly sold in Germany is largely from China. Due to the fact that the procedure requires removing the queen, and the colony is exposed to extreme stress, the production of royal jelly in Germany has little public support.

Royal jelly and propolis are used as raw materials in pharmaceutical products. However, it is also consumed in its pure form and is a legal food substance. Royal jelly can cause allergic reactions in humans even when it has been processed in some way.
Beeswax (Cera Flava) is a product of bees’ wax glands. It is used to build honeycombs. The wax is initially white, but becomes progressively more yellow as a result of contact with pollen oil (from flower pollen). and comes after previous treatment again as a white wax in the trade.

The wax can be treated to return it to its original colour. In industry most of the wax now used is artificial or synthetic. The largest consumers of beeswax are the pharmaceutical industry and cosmetic manufacturers. Large quantities of beeswax are also used in candle production and in the manufacture of certain confectionery. In the field of medicine, beeswax is used in the treatment of coughs, colds, muscle and joint pain (heat packs).

In apiculture wax gets recycled. It is for health reasons overaged wax (by impurities dark coloured) was taken by heat and steam melted and cleaned. The resulting white wax is given back to the bees.

Common namesHoney bees
German namesHonigbienen
Dutch namesHoningbijen
Swedish namesHonungsbin
AuthorCarl von Linné (Carl Nilsson Linnæus), 1758







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AuthorLinnaeus, 1758
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