Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to, as it is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bees and insects has distinctly different properties.
Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. They store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive.
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and has approximately the same relative sweetness as that of granulated sugar. It has attractive chemical properties for baking and a distinctive flavor that leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity of 0.6.
Honey has a long history in human consumption, and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. It also has a role in religion and symbolism. Flavors of honey vary based on the nectar source, and various types and grades of honey are available. It is also used in various medicinal traditions to treat ailments. The study of pollens and spores in raw honey can determine floral sources of honey. Bees carry an electrostatic charge whereby they attract other particles in addition to pollen, which become incorporated into their honey; the honey can be analysed by the techniques of melissopalynology in area environmental studies of radioactive particles, dust and particulate pollution.
Honey’s natural sugars are dehydrated, which prevents fermentation, with added enzymes to modify and transform their chemical composition and pH. Invertases and digestive acids hydrolyze sucrose to give the monosaccharides glucose and fructose. The invertase is one of these enzymes synthesized by the body of the insect.
Honey bees transform saccharides into honey by a process of regurgitation, a number of times, until it is partially digested. The bees do the regurgitation and digestion as a group. After the last regurgitation, the aqueous solution is still high in water, so the process continues by evaporation of much of the water and enzymatic transformation.
Typical honey analysis:
Higher sugars: 1.5%
Curcumin (pronounced “Kur kyoo min”) is the principal curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). Turmeric’s other two curcuminoids are desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. The curcuminoids are natural phenols that are responsible for the yellow color of turmeric. Curcumin can exist in several tautomeric forms, including a 1,3-diketo form and two equivalent enol forms. The enol form is more energetically stable in the solid phase and in solution.
Curcumin can be used for boron quantification in the curcumin method. It reacts with boric acid to form a red-colored compound, rosocyanine.
Curcumin is brightly yellow colored and may be used as a food coloring. As a food additive, its E number is E100.
Although some preclinical studies suggest curcumin may be useful for the prevention and treatment of several diseases, the effectiveness of curcumin has neither been confirmed in sufficient preliminary research, nor has it been demonstrated in randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials.
A survey of the literature shows a number of other potential uses and that daily doses over a 3-month period of up to 12 grams proved safe.
Research in the latter half of the 20th century identified curcumin as the agent responsible for most of the biological activity of turmeric.
As of 2008, clinical trials in humans were underway, studying the effect of curcumin on various diseases, including multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes, colon cancer, psoriasis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Curcuma zedoaria, zedoary, white turmeric or kentjur, is the name for a perennial herb and member of the genus Curcuma, family Zingiberaceae. The plant is native to India and Indonesia. It was introduced to Europe by Arabs around the sixth century.
Zedoary is a rhizome that grows in tropical and subtropical wet forest regions. The fragrant plant bears yellow flowers with red and green bracts and the underground stem section is large and tuberous with numerous branches. The leaf shoots of the zedoary are long and can reach 1 meter (3 feet) in height.
The essential oil produced from the dried roots of Curcuma zedoaria is used in perfumery and soap fabrication, as well as an ingredient in bitter tonics.
Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce the male gametes (sperm cells). Pollen grains have a hard coat that protects the sperm cells during the process of their movement from the stamens to the pistil of flowering plants or from the male cone to the female cone of coniferous plants.When pollen lands on a compatible pistil or female cone (i.e., when pollination has occurred), it germinates and produces a pollen tube that transfers the sperm to the ovule (or female gametophyte). Individual pollen grains are small enough to require magnification to see detail. The study of pollen is called palynology and is highly useful in paleoecology, paleontology, archeology, and forensics.
Bee pollen (or bee bread or a pollen ball) is a mass of pollen that has been packed by worker honeybees into granules with added honey or nectar. Incomplete larval development of bees occurs on them. They are found in brood cells. Brood cells are chambers of wood and mud, and are created by female ground-nesting bees. When the pollen ball is complete, a single female lays an egg on top of the pollen ball, and seals the brood cell.The balls are harvested as food for humans.
Foraging bees bring pollen back to the hive and pass it off to another worker bee. This bee will pack the pollen into a cell with her head. During the packing, the pollen is mixed with nectar, enzymes and fungi and bacterial organisms that transform the pollen into bee pollen. The resulting material is higher in nutritional value than the untreated pollen. Bee pollen is the primary source of protein for the hive.
Like royal jelly, honey, and propolis, other well-known honey bee products, the exact chemical composition of pollen gathered depends on which plants the worker bees are gathering the pollen from, and can vary from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, colony to colony, even in the same apiary, and no two samples of bee pollen will be exactly identical. Accordingly, chemical and nutritional analyses of bee pollen apply only to the specific samples being tested, and cannot be extrapolated to samples gathered in other places or other times. Although there is no specific chemical composition, the average composition has been said to be 55% carbohydrates, 35% proteins, 3% minerals and vitamins, 2% fatty acids, and 5% of diverse other components.
A recent study of samples of bee pollen showed they may contain 188 kinds of fungi and 29 kinds of bacteria. Bee pollen is sometimes referred to as ambrosia.
Bee pollen is used in naturopathic medicine traditions and as a nutritional supplement, although exposure may trigger allergic or anaphylactic reactions in sensitive people.
In the short term bee pollen is safe. It should not be taken if you have pollen allergies. The side effects are usually shortness of breath, hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis.
Herbalists recommend bee pollen to enhance athletic performance or to ameliorate the effects of chemotherapy.
Royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, as well as adult queens. It is secreted from the glands in the hypopharynx of worker bees, and fed to all larvae in the colony, regardless of sex or caste.
When worker bees decide to make a new queen, either because the old one is weakening, or died, they choose several small larvae and feed them with copious amounts of royal jelly in specially constructed queen cells. This type of feeding triggers the development of queen morphology, including the fully developed ovaries needed to lay eggs.
Royal jelly is secreted from the glands in the heads of worker bees, and is fed to all bee larvae, whether they are destined to become drones (males), workers (sterile females), or queens (fertile females). After three days, the drone and worker larvae are no longer fed with royal jelly, but queen larvae continue to be fed this special substance throughout their development. It is harvested by humans by stimulating colonies with movable frame hives to produce queen bees. Royal jelly is collected from each individual queen cell (honeycomb) when the queen larvae are about four days old. It is collected from queen cells because these are the only cells in which large amounts are deposited; when royal jelly is fed to worker larvae, it is fed directly to them, and they consume it as it is produced, while the cells of queen larvae are “stocked” with royal jelly much faster than the larvae can consume it. Therefore, only in queen cells is the harvest of royal jelly practical. A well-managed hive during a season of 5–6 months can produce approximately 500 g of royal jelly. Since the product is perishable, producers must have immediate access to proper cold storage (e.g., a household refrigerator or freezer) in which the royal jelly is stored until it is sold or conveyed to a collection center. Sometimes honey or beeswax are added to the royal jelly, which is thought to aid its preservation.
The overall composition of royal jelly is 67% water, 12.5% crude protein, including small amounts of many different amino acids, and 11% simple sugars (monosaccharides), also including a relatively high amount (5%) of fatty acids. It also contains many trace minerals, some enzymes, antibacterial and antibiotic components, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and trace amounts of vitamin C, but none of the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K.
The component of royal jelly that causes a bee to develop into a queen appears to be a single protein that has been called royalactin. Jelly which had been rendered inactive by prolonged storage had a fresh addition of each of the components subject to decay and was fed to bees; only jelly laced with royalactin caused the larvae to become queens. Royalactin also induces similar phenotypical change in the fruitfly (Drosophila melanogaster), marked by increased body size and ovary development.
Royal jelly is collected and sold as a dietary supplement for humans, claiming various health benefits because of components such as B-complex vitamins.
It is also used as a component in some skin care and natural beauty products. In holistic healing circles and popular alternative medicine folklore, royal jelly is believed to have anti-aging properties. Some alternative medicine practitioners attribute this to its amino acid content and broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Royal jelly has been reported as a possible immunomodulatory agent in Graves’ disease. It has also been reported to stimulate the growth of glial cells and neural stem cells in the brain. To date, there is preliminary evidence that it may have some cholesterol-lowering, anti-inflammatory, wound-healing, and antibiotic effects, though the last three of these effects are unlikely to be realized if ingested (due to the destruction of the substances involved through digestion, or neutralization by changes in pH). Research also suggests that queen bee acid (10-hydroxy-2-decenoic acid, 10-HDA) found in royal jelly may inhibit the vascularization of tumors.