Bees produce honey from nectar or honeydew. At the same time, complex transformations take place in the bee’s body. Honey almost entirely consists of plant nectar, only some of the components enter the honey from the body of the bee. The composition of honey contains about 300 different substances, it is based on simple sugars – fructose and glucose.
Honey has a complex chemical composition. It contains about 20% water and 80% dry matter, of which grape sugar is 35% and fruit sugar is 40%. In addition, honey contains sucrose (1.3-5%), maltose (5-10%), dextrins (3-4%). The amount of protein substances in flower honey is 0.04-0.29%, and in honeydew honey – 0.08-0.17%. Honey contains up to 20 amino acids.
Darkening of honey when heated is explained by the fact that amino compounds react with monosaccharides and dark-colored compounds (melocondins) are formed.
Honey contains malic, lactic, tartaric, oxalic, citric, succinic and other acids. The acidity of flower honeys (pH) is 3.78, honeydew – 4.57. Flower honey has significantly less (up to 0.14%) minerals (ash content) than honeydew honey (1.6%). Honey contains such enzymes as invertase, diastase, catalase, lipase, etc. Of the vitamins in honey, B1, B2, B3, pantothenic, nicotinic (PP), ascorbic acid (C), etc. prevail.
Unnatural honey is considered to be sugar honey processed by bees, as well as honey from sweet juices of fruits, vegetables and artificial honey.
The name of honey depends on the type of plants from which the nectar is collected, for example, buckwheat, sunflower, sainfoin, sweet clover, lime, white acacia, heather, etc. Such honey is called monofloric.
But honey can contain impurities of a different origin. For example, sunflower honey sometimes contains alfalfa impurities. Small amounts of impurities do not affect the quality of honey. The honey produced by bees from the nectar of various plants is called polyfloral. Sometimes the name of honey is associated with the area or land where bees collect nectar (for example, Carpathian, Far Eastern, Bashkir, meadow, forest).
The color of honey comes in all shades, from light yellow to brown and brown, depending on the type of plant from which the bees collected the nectar. Three groups of honey varieties are distinguished by color: light, moderately colored and dark. Dark honey is healthier than light honey. It contains more mineral and other substances.
The transformation of nectar into honey begins in the body of bees. A solution of carbohydrates, mineral salts, aromatic substances with water and other substances is transferred by the bees from the plants to the wax cells of the combs. Many bees work not only to collect and transfer nectar, but also to process it in the hive.
By producing honey from nectar, bees evaporate water, stir in honeycombs and process them with enzymes. As a result, the chemical composition of the product changes. The bulk of the water evaporates from the nectar on the very first day.
Ripe honey bees are sealed in cells with wax caps. On this basis, its maturity and pumping time are determined. Unsealed honey has a high water content and contains a lot of unsplit sucrose, which deteriorates its quality. Unripe honey cannot be stored for a long time.