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Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.

net
The Honey Book


Prehistoric man gathering honey, a rock painting made 6000 BC, Cueva de la
Arana, near Valencia, Spain


Hi
high,
higher
to bee or
not to bee
my sweet honey
sweetest blessing
in spite of all the
horrible and painful stings






Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 2
1. A Short History of Honey 3
2. Elaboration and Harvest of Honey 8
3. Honey Technology 15
4. Physical Properties 19
5. Honey Composition 27
6. Honeys Types 37
7. Control and Trade 42
8. Nutrient and Functional Food 54
9. Medicine 97




















Be aware that this e-book is only for private personal use and should not be
released in public domains (Internet). No parts of the book can be published
without the persmission of the author.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 3
A Short History of Honey

Prehistoric Times
Honey bees are one of the oldest forms of animal life, still in existence since the Neolithic Age, thus
preceding humans on earth by 10 to 20 million years. In the course of human history honey has
been used mainly as sweetener, but also in medicine.

Prehistoric man gathering honey
A rock painting made 6000 BC, Cueva de la
Arana, near Valencia, Spain

Primeval humans gathered and ate the honey and
honeycombs of wild bees, the only available
sweet, as far back as 7000 BC
As the only sweetener, honey was an important
food for man since the very beginning of man.
The story of honey and Homo sapiens started
during the stone age. In order to reach the honey
sweet man climb up, may be risking his life.

Ancient India

The Vedas
Around the same time, i.e. 2-3,000 BC., honey
was mentioned several times in the holy books of
ancient India, the Vedas:
Let every wind that blows drop honey
Let the rivers and streams recreate honey
Let all our medicines turn into honey
Let the dawn and evening be full of honey
Let the darkness be converted to honey
Let our nourisher, the sky above, be full of honey
Let our trees be honey
Let the Sun be honey
Let our cows make honey

Rig Veda 1:90:6-8
Ancient China

The five elements
In ancient China honey has been mentioned in the
book of songs Shi Jing, written in the 6
th
century
BC; a honey medicine was mentioned in the 52
prescription book, 3th century BC. According to
Chinese medicine honey acts according to the
principles of the Earth element, acting mainly on
the stomach and on the spleen and has Yang
character, acting on the Tripple Heater Meridian
(Shaoyang).


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 4
Ancient Egypt

Pabasa tombs, 26
e
Dynasty,
760-656 BC,
image courtesy www.virtualinsectary.com/egypt.html

In old Egypt honey was an important sweetener and
was depicted in many wall drawings. According to the
Ebers papyrus (1550 BC) it is included in 147
prescriptions in external applications. Also according
to the Smith papyrus (1700 BC) it was used in wound
healing: Thou shouldst bind [the wound] with fresh
meat the first day [and] treat afterwards with grease,
honey [and] lint every day until he recovers.

Ancient Greece

The bee goddess Artemis

In old Greece the honey bee, a sacred symbol of
Artemis, was an important design on Ephesian coins
for almost 6 centuries.
Aristoteles described for the first time the production
of honey. Hippocrates speaks about the healing
virtues of honey: cleans sores and ulcers, softens
hard ulcers of the lips, heals cabuncles and running
sores.
After his death in 323 B.C., Alexander the Great was
embalmed in a coffin filled with honey.
Ancient Rome

From Virgils Georgics


Honey was mentioned many times by the writers
Vergil, Varro and Plinius. Especially Virgils
Georgics is a classic where he describes in detail
how honey is made.
During the time of Julius Caesar honey was used as
a substitute for gold to pay taxes.
In the first century A.D., Apicus, a wealthy Roman
gourmet, wrote a series of books in which more than
half the recipes included honey.



Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 5
The Bible

Old Hebrew bible text

In Israel, the land where honey and milk flow, honey
was very important and has been mentioned 54 times
in the Old Testament. The most famous is the saying
of the wise King SolomonEat thou honey because
it is good.
In the New Testament it plays a role in the
resurrection of Christ. The first food he was given
was fish and honeycomb.

The Koran

Old Koran script

The Koran recommended honey as a wholesome
food and excellent medicine. In the XVIth Chapter
of the Koran, entitled The Bee, we find: "There
proceedeth from their bellies a liquor of various
colour, wherein is medicine for men." Mohammed
pronounced: "Honey is a remedy for all diseases."
Medieval High Cultures

St. Ambrosius
In medieval high cultures of the Arabs, the
Byzantines and Medieval Europe honey was
important too and in these cultures most sweet meals
contained honey. In Byzantium honey was used as an
ingredient of many dishes.
During the Christian Middle ages honey was highly
estimated and the great figures like the saints
Ambrosius, Chrystosomus und Bernhard of
Clairvaux were represented with woven hives.
The old Celtic, Germanic and Slav people traditions
celebrate honey mead as an immortal beverage.


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 6
The East Orthodox Tradition

St. Haralampios
Beekeeping and honey has also a long tradition in the
Eastern Orthodox tradition. The saint Haralambos
was a Greek Christian saint from the 2
nd
century AC.
Haralambos was a Greek Christian preaching
Christianity, persecuted very severely by the Roman
emperor of that time, he helped many persecuted
brothers by healing them with the use of honey,
propolis and herbs. He lived until he was executed at
the age of 112 years.
Central and South America

Mayan Bee God

In Central and South America honey from stingless bees
was used for ages, long before Columbus. Honey of the
native stingless bees was used regarded as a gift of the
Gods, it was also a sign of fertility and was given as an
offering to the gods.



Africa

African beekeeper

Africa has also a long tradition of a bee use for honey,
both in the high cultures of Mediterranean Africa, and in
the more primitive cultures in regions to the south.
It was recently found that the honey bee Apis Melifera
originates in Africa.



Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 7
Nowadays



For a long time in human history it was an important
carbohydrate source and the only largely available
sweetener until industrial sugar production began to
replace it after 1800. At present the annual world honey
production is about 1.2 million tons, which is less than 1%
of the total sugar production.
Now science has proven the healing virtues of honey,
described by ancient writers, poets and scientists.




Further reading
CRANE, E (1975) History of honey, In Crane, E (ed.) Honey, a comprehensive survey, William
Heinemann; London; pp 439-488.
CRANE, E (1999) The world history of beekeeping and honey hunting. Gerald Duckworth & Co
Ltd London
JONES R. (2001) Honey and healing through the ages, in Munn, P., Jones, R. (Eds.) Honey and
healing, IBRA, Cardiff, UK, pp. 1-4.
RANSOME, H.M., (1937) The sacred bee in ancient times and folklore, George Allen and Unwin,
London


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 8
Elaboration and Harvest of Honey






HONEY FORAGING
Honey bees gather their honey from two sources: nectar and honeydew. There are no official statistics as to
the relative importance of these two honey sources. In some European countries like Greece, Switzerland,
Turkey, Slovenia and Austria honeydew seems to be at least as important as nectar.
Nectar

The nectar is secreted in the flower nectary. It is a sugar
solution of varying concentration, from 5 to 80 %. About 95
% of the dry substance are sugars, the rest are amino acids
(ca. 0.05 %), minerals (0.02-0.45 %) and small amounts of
organic acids, vitamins and aroma compounds. The value of a
certain plant for bees is determined by its sugar value,
measured by the sugar amount secreted by certain plants. The
sugar value ranges widely, from 0.0005 to 8 mg
11
. The sugar
composition is also typical for each plant species, the
principal sugars being fructose, glucose and sucrose. Most
plants have nectars consisting predominantly of fructose and glucose (rape, dandelion). Fabiaceae and
Labiateae plants (acacia, clover, sage, lavendel) contain nectar containing mainly sucrose. The sugar
concentration depends on different climatic factors as temperature, soil, humidity and season. When
humidity is higher the nectar quantity is greater, but the sugar concentration is smaller. Temperature plays
also a very important role. Optimum temperatures are 10 to 30
o
C. Strong winds diminish nectar secretion.
The nectar secretion depends also on the day time. Maximum secretion is at noon and in the early afternoon.
Bees prefer nectar with higher sugar content, e.g. around 50 % and will not forage if it is below 5 %. Bees
gather nectar for their energy needs. The greater the sugar value of a plant, the more it is visited by bees for
foraging. Because of the different secretion factors it is not possible to foresee nectar production.
The botanical origin of nectar, used by bees to make honey can be determined by pollen analysis

Honeydew
Honeydew is the secretion product of plant-sucking insects (Hemiptera, mostly aphids). These insects pierce
the foliage or other covering parts of the plant and feed on the sap. The ingested sap is passed through the
insects gut, and the surplus is excreted as droplets of honeydew, which are gathered by the bees. There are
different sorts of honeydew producing insects. Most plants are trees, the coniferous trees yielding worldwide
the highest amounts of honeydew. However, other plants, e.g. cotton, lucerne and sunflower can also
provide honeydew.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 9

Periphillus on Acer leaves Cinara piceae on spruce

Honeydew is a solution with varying sugar concentration (5-60 %), containing mainly sucrose, besides
higher sugars (oligosacharides). There are also smaller amounts of amino acids, proteins, minerals, acids and
vitamins. In addition, honeydew contains cells of algae and fungi. Some insects produce high amounts of the
trisaccharide melezitose which is only very slightly soluble in water, thus yielding honey which can
crystallise in the combs.
Honeydew production is even less predictable than the nectar flow, as it depends on the build-up of plant
sucking insects. By evaluating the populations of the plant-sucking insects before the honeydew flow, the
potential for a possible honey flow can be estimated. However, the honeydew flow depends also on
favourable weather conditions during the honey flow period. In countries like Germany, Switzerland, Austria
and Slovenia, where honeydew honey is beloved by consumers, beekeepers optimise their honeydew honey
crops by estimating the honeydew flow potential. This is done by counting the honeydew drops, falling on
sheets, laid below the trees
8
.
Honey yield
The honey yield of a bee colony depends on different factors: weather conditions, nectar- and honeydew
flow and colony strength. Assuming that a bee fills its stomach with 50 mg, 100000 flights would be
necessary to harvest 5 kg nectar or honeydew, or about 1-3 kg of honey. For this purpose each forager of an
average bee colony of about 10'000 workers makes about 10 forage flights. The greater part of the harvested
honey is used to cover the energy needs of the bee colony, the smaller part only remaining for the beekeeper
to be harvested.

HONEY HARVEST
A. melifera bee foragers collect nectar and honeydew from plants and carry it by means of their honey sac
and bring it to their colony. On their way they already add enzymes from their hypopharengeal glands and
transfer it to the colony bees. These nurse bees pass it over to each other and finally fill the honey into the
combs. During this process the bees fan with their wings, thus lowering honeys humidity, when the water
contents reaches 30-40 % the honey is filled into the combs. During that time the bees add additional
enzymes to the honey. The invertase transforms sucrose into fructose and glucose, while glucose oxidase
oxidates glucose to gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide, the latter acting as an agent against bacterial
spoilage. The warm colony temperature (35
o
C) and more fanning lower further the honey humidity. Bees
also suck out the honey and deposit it back into the combs, and by this process further lower the water
content of the honey. This transformation process takes place in 1 to 3 days. Generally, when honey is ripe,
with a humidity of less than 20 %, the bees cap the combs, preventing absorption of moisture by honey. Only
rarely, under very humid or tropical conditions can honey with more than 20 % be capped by bees. The aim
of the beekeeper is to harvest honey with less than 18 % humidity.
The water content is of utmost importance for the quality and storage capacity of honey. It depends on many
different factors such as humidity, temperature, colony strength, hive type and intensity of honey flow. Some
unifloral honeys, like sunflower, heather
13
and strawberry tree
5
tend to have a higher water content than
others. The beekeeper can estimate honey ripeness by a simple test: a honey comb with open brood is

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 10
punched by fist if the honey does not splash out, the honey is ready for harvest. A more exact method is to
measure the honey content with a hand refractometer.

Measuring of honey humidity by a hand refractometer
The hand refractometer is a simple and cheap instrument for the estimation
of honey humidity. The hand refractometer should be calibrated (a
calibrations liquid is generally provided by the manufacturer). A completely
liquefied honey should only be used, as honey crystals can scratch the
refractometer prism. The refractometer should be well cleaned after use.

Honey humidity can be lowered by passing warm air over the combs, mostly
by placing them in special warm rooms, where the humidity of the rooms
should be kept low with a dehumidifier.
4, 9, 12
, preferably below 18 %
12
. This technique is close to what the
bees are doing when dehumidifying their honey in the hive. Indeed, dehumidification leading to a loss of
honey components is not allowed according to the Codex Alimentarius and other honey standards, it states
than no honey constituents may be removed from honey except where it is unavoidable in the removal of
foreign inorganic or organic matter. Industrial removal of water from honey will lead to a loss of honey
aroma.

Good apicultural praxis for harvesting honey with optimal quality
Use of only prescribed bee drugs
No use of antibiotics, chemical drugs for the control of the wax moth or chemical repellants
No feeding of sugar until at least 1 month before the honey flow
No use of excessive smoke
No harvesting of brood combs or honey combs containing brood
Harvest when most of the combs are capped
Honey water content is as low as possible: lower than 20 %, if possible, lower than 18 %
Place for honey centrifugation is clean
Fresh and clean water is present
All instruments, which are in contact with the honey are clean
Mesh size of honey sieves not greater than 0.2 mm
Honey is stored in tanks for several days for an optimal separation of wax, foreign particles and foam
before filling it into containers or jars
Storage of honey in the dark in air-tight containers and jars, safe from humidity and foreign odours at
temperatures below 20
o
C

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 11
Uncapping and centrifugation
When most of the honey combs are capped, they can be taken out for harvesting.
Use a water sprayer for keeping out bees instead of smoke for best honey quality.



The combs should have a temperature of about 30
0
before extraction. Today honey is harvested mostly by
centrifugation, except in most countries of Africa, where most of the honey is pressed out of the combs. The
honey is cleaned by passing it through filters, generally with a mesh size not greater than 0.2 mm, in order
that pollen are not filtered. In some countries filters with a small mesh size is used to filter off honey, the
honey containing no more pollen. According to the Codex Alimentarius and the EU honey standards such
honey should be labelled filtered and cannot be labelled for a specific geographic and botanical origin.





Decapping and centrifugation of the combs, followed by a first filtration

Filling and storage

The filtered honey is poured in a tank, equipped with a filter. The tank is ideally kept at temperature of about
30
0
C and conditioned for several days, allowing the foam and small wax particles to diffuse up to the
surface. The clear honey is best filled into jars for final consummation. In other cases honey will be filled in
larger storage containers.


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 12

Honey bulk recipients






Storage
containers should be made out
of aluminium, stainless steel or plastic material. Corrosive metal containers should be coated with
appropriate coatings, resistant to acidity.
Honey is offered in a great variety of jars. Glass is used mostly, but other materials, e.g. plastic, earthenware
can be also used, provided that they are resistant to the action of honey. Containers and jars should be closed
hermetically to exclude spoilage by humidity and foreign odours. Optimum storage temperature is 10-16 C,
the relative humidity of the storage rooms should be less than 65 %. Honey quality decreases with
increasing temperature: the hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) content increases, while the enzyme activity
decreases (see below). Prolonged storage at 50C results in a decrease of aroma compounds
19
. Upon
prolonged storage the colour of honey becomes darker due to building of Maillard products
6, 17
.

Effects of storage temperature on honey HMF, diastase and invertase
18

Storage
temperature
o
C
Storage time to build
40 mg HMF /kg
Half-life*
diastase
Half-life
invertase
10 10-20 y 35 y 26 y
20 2 - 4 y 4 y 2 y
30 0,5 - 1 y 200 d 83 d
40 1 - 2 m 31 d 9,6 d
50 5 - 10 d 5,4 d 1,3 d
60 1 - 2 d 1 d 4,7 h
70 6 - 20 h 5,3 h 47 min
half-life: time, necessary for a 50 % decrease of the enzyme activity

Storage in honey jars and pots
Honey quality is preserved best if it is directly filled in jars. Glass is the best material, due to its
neutrality. Transparent glass has the advantage that the honey can be visualized. On the other hand,
colour and the antibacterial activity can diminish upon storage. Amber glass jars are thus optimal.
Jars and pots should be closed hermetically to exclude spoilage by humidity and foreign odours.
Food quality plastic material and jar pots are also possible, if they fulfil the quality criteria.
Especially no foreign material should diffuse into the honey.

The longer the storage and the higher the temperature, the
more rapid is the darkening of honey.
The same rape honey was stored under different conditions:
Left: at ambient temperature in the light. middle: in the dark at
ambient temperature (20-25); right: in the dark at 15 C.


Further reading:
1, 1-3, 7, 8, 10, 10, 11, 14-16


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 13

Different honey pots (photos courtesy Gilles Ratia, except Nr. 3, 7, 8, 9: courtesy E.M. Spolders)


Bulgaria

Greece

Hungary

Israel

Italy

Japan

Poland

Romania

Russia

Spain

Uganda

USA


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 14

References

1. CRANE, E (1990) Bees and beekeeping: Science, practice and world resources. Cornell University Press
Ithaca, New York
2. CRANE, E; WALKER, P (1985) Important honeydew sources and their honeys. Bee World 66 (3): 105-112.
3. CRANE, E; WALKER, P; DAY, R (1984) Directory of important world honey sources. International Bee
Research Association London; 384 pp
4. DZIADYK, A (2004) Drying honey in the "hot room" - Several approaches. American Bee Journal 144 (5):
385-387.
5. FLORIS, I; SATTA, A; RUIU, L (2007) Honeys of Sardinia (Italy). Journal of Apicultural Research 46 (3):
198-209.
6. GONZALES, A P; BURIN, L; BUERA, M D (1999) Color changes during storage of honeys in relation to
their composition and initial color. Food Research International 32 (3): 185-191.
7. KLOFT, W; KUNKEL, H (1985) Waldtracht und Waldhonig in der Imkerei. Ehrenwirth Verlag Mnchen
8. LIEBIG, G (1999) Die Waldtracht. Entstehung - Beobachtung - Prognose. G. Liebig Stuttgart
9. MARLETTO, F; PITON, P (1976) Equipment for evaporating water from honey by a forced draught.
Preliminary note. Apicoltore Moderno 67 (3): 81-84.
10. MAURIZIO, A (1975) How bees make honey, In Crane, E (ed.) Honey. A Comprehensive survey, Heinemann
Edition; London; pp 77-105.
11. MAURIZIO, A; SCHAPER, F (1994) Das Trachtpflanzenbuch. Nektar und Pollen - die wichtigsten
Nahrungsquellen der Honigbiene. Ehrenwirth Mnchen; 334 pp
12. MURRELL, D; HENLEY, B (1988) Drying honey in a hot room. Amer.Bee J. 128 (5): 347-351.
13. PERSANO ODDO, L; PIRO, R (2004) Main European unifloral honeys: descriptive sheets. Apidologie 35
(special issue): S38-S81.
14. SHUEL, R W (1992) The production of nectar and pollen. In: The Hive and the Honeybee, Hrsg. J.M.
Graham. Dadant: Hamilton. unknown 3: 401-436.
15. TEW, J T (1992) Honey and wax a consideration of production, processing and packaging techniques, In
Graham, J (ed.) The Hive and the Honey Bee, Dadant & Sons; Hamilton, IL; pp 657-704.
16. TOWNSEND, G F (1975) Processing and storing liquid honey, In Crane, E (ed.), Heinemann, London: pp
269-292.
17. TURKMEN, N; SARI, F; POYRAZOGLU, E S; VELIOGLU, Y S (2006) Effects of prolonged heating on
antioxidant activity and colour of honey. Food Chemistry 95 (4): 653-657.
18. WHITE, J W (1975) Composition of honey., In Crane, E (ed.) Honey, a comprehensive survey, Heinemann
Edition; London; pp 157-206.
19. WOOTTON, M; EDWARDS, R A; FARAJI-HAREMI, R; WILLIAMS, P J (1978) Effect of accelerated
storage conditions on the chemical composition and properties of Australian honeys - 3. Changes in
volatile components. Journal of Apicultural Research 17 (3): 167-172.





Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 15
Honey Technology





CRISTALLISATION
Natural crystallisation
The honey crystallization is a natural process, depending on the sugar content, the temperature, the
water content and the storage time.
Sugar content
The higher the glucose content, the faster the crystallization. Honeys with more than 28% glucose
crystallize fast, while those with less than 28 % remain generally liquid
19
. Honeydew honeys with
more than 10% melezitose crystallize to so-called cement honey
8

Temperature
The optimal temperature for honey crystallization lies between 10 and 18
o
C constant temperature
of 14
o
C is regarded as optimal. At low temperatures crystallization is slowed down. In the deep-
freezer honey remains liquid for longer time. Very fast crystallizing honeys like rape honey
crystallize in a fine-crystalline texture. At higher temperatures (more than 25
o
C) the crystallization
is slowed down. At these temperatures the honey crystallizes with a rough crystalline texture.
Water content
Honeys with a water content between 15 and 18 % crystallize optimally. Honeys with more and less
and water crystallize more slowly. Best spreadability have crystalized honeys with water content
between 17 and 18%. Honeys with lower water content have harder crystallization texture, those
with more than 18% to remain softer.

Guided crystallization
The guided crystallization is applied with fast crystallizing blossom
honeys in order to avoid the building of frost and coarse crystallisation.
There are two procedures: mechanical cutting of the crystals up by
agitating the honey Inoculate the honey with 5 to 10% finely crystalline
starter honey and following agitating. Agitating can pass agitating devices
with motor drive, e.g. stronger hand drills by hand with a triangular staff,
with larger quantities is better suitable (with more than 800 W) with
special agitating staffs: (Illustration)
Crystallization defects
Formation of frosting
In some honeys with low humidity frosting arises on the surface of the honeys.
These are cavities, which are formed by air during crystallization. Frosting is a
natural process, which does not impair the honey quality. It can be prevented by
applying vacuum to the honey before filling or following the guided
crystallization. With guided granulation and storage at constant temperature
around 14 C frosting can be avoided.


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 16

Rough granulation
This occurs particularly in slowly crystallizing honeys and also after the
liquefaction of honey, which decreases honey granulations speed. This can
be prevented with guided crystallization.



Building of two phases
This defect arises when honeys with high water content granulate (with more than 18
% water. Often yeast will develop in the liquid phase to cause fermentation.

LIQUEFACTION AND SOFTENING OF GRANULATED HONEY
Heating is the most widely used method. According to the Codex Alimentarius and other honey
regulations it is forbidden to heat honey as to impair significantly its quality. Therefore, honey
should be liquefied in such a way as to avoid heat damages. The liquefaction time depends on the
glucose concentration and on the crystal form: the higher the glucose content and the larger the
crystals, the longer the liquefaction time. Heating at higher temperatures of for a longer period of
time will cause honey damage, decrease of aroma and in extreme cases building of a caramel like
taste. Overheating is determined most easily by the measurement of hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF)
and honey enzyme activity (see table below). Honey should be heated with care to prevent
overheating.
Heating at lower temperatures
It is often prescribed not to heat honey at temperatures higher than 40
o
C in order to prevent
overheating. However, higher temperatures are needed for a complete dissolution of all crystals.
Granulated honey is a very poor heat conductor and thus should be stirred to decrease granulation
time. Heating for 1-2 days at 40-50
o
will not damage honey. There are different means of honey
heating.
Heating by water bath
From point of view of optimal heat transfer this type of heating is the best one. A 25 kg honey
recepient is heated in a water bath up to 40
o
for 43 hours, while 72 hours are necessary for heating
by air
3, 4
Due to practical reasons, heating in water baths is used in recipients of up to 25 kg size.
There are only few commercially available heating water bath systems.
Heating by air
Heating by air is widely used. Compared to a water bath, air heating needs a longer period of time.
When heating greater amounts of honey, air circulation should be used to prevent overheating. For
liquefaction of a granulated blossom honey with 17.5 % water, following relation between vessel
size, temperature and liquefaction time was found
10
:

Recipient capacity 40
o
C 45
o
C 50
o
C
20 kg 24 hours 18 hours 16 hours
50 kg 48 hours 36 hours 24 hours
80 kg 108 hours 72 hours 60 hours
300 kg - 108 hours 72 hours


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 17
Other methods of heating
Honey can be liquefied by placing the vessels on electric plates. This type of heating is widely used
by small beekeepers and it is practical for up to 25 kg recipients. However, in order to prevent
overheating, there should be an air layer of 5-6 cm between the plate and the vessel. According to
the producers, heating to 45
o
of a 25 kg vessel will liquify the honey within 24 to 48 hours.
Immersion heaters can be placed on the granulated honey, which progressively sink upon honey
melting.
Melitherm heaters, developed by Sprgin
14
are used for honey liquefying in some European
countries. This liquefaction method is particularly gentle and does not cause any honey damage
2
,
but the honey crystals are not completely liquefied.
Heating at higher temperatures: pasteurisation
In some countries, honey is heated to destroy honey crystals and yeasts through pasteurisation.
Commercial pasteurisation practice is flash-heating for a few seconds at 70-78
0
C and then rapidly
cooling for minimisation of heat damage. The commercial practice is described in detail
17
. After
pasteurisation, diastase activity and HMF content remain almost unchanged, while invertase is
damaged
6, 16
.
Pressure filtering, for a clarification of honey, is carried out mostly in North America, after honey
pasteurisation. The resulting honey is very clear and remains liquid for a longer period of time.
Liquefied, pasteurised honey will crystallise slowly to build coarse crystals. The drawback of this
procedure is that it filters off pollen, making it impossible to control claims of specific declaration
of botanical and geographical origin.
Wave application
There are different kind of waves, which can be used for honey liquefaction:
Ultrasonic waves
9, 11, 12

Microwave oven
1, 5, 7, 13, 15, 18

Infrared oven
7, 15

Microwave and infrared ovens are well distributed commercially and are suitable for use. Honey
can be liquefied very quickly, due to its specific composition
13
. Microwaves with frequency
between 915 MHz and 2450 MHz are widely used in for food heating and can be used for honey
liquefaction. However, the research results cited above show than both types of ovens cause HMF
increase and enzyme activity decrease, the effects depending on the time and the energy amount
applied, and also on the type of honey
1
. Thus, special microwave ovens for liquefaction of honey,
taking into account the above mentioned factors should be constructed in order to avoid honey
damage.
DEHUMIDIFICATION
Honey with too high water content should be dehumidified before harvest, i.e. in the combs, by
placing the hives in warm rooms and using dehumidifiers. This can be done easily by beekeepers
and the procedure should not influence significantly honey quality.
However, if too humid honey is already harvested it can be dehumidified also in the honey plant.
This, however, leads to loss of honey volatiles and aroma. Thus, such dehumidification is also not
allowed according to the international honey standards, which state than no honey constituents
may be removed from honey except where it is unavoidable in the removal of foreign inorganic or
organic matter.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 18
References

1. BATH, P K; SINGH, N (2001) Effect of microwave heating on hydroxymethylfurfural formation and
browning in Helianthus annuus and Eucalyptus lanceolatus honey. Journal of Food Science and
Technology Mysore 38 (4): 366-368.
2. BOGDANOV, S (1994) Verflssigung von Honig mit dem Melitherm-Gert und dem
Abdeckelungswachsgert. Schweizerische Bienen-Zeitung 117 (8): 458-460.
3. BDEL, A; GRZIWA, J (1959) Die Erwrmung des Honigs im Heizschrank. Deutsche Bienenwirtschaft 10
(2): 30-35.
4. BDEL, A; GRZIWA, J (1959) Die Rolle des Wrmebergangs bei Erwrmung des Honigs. Sonderdruck
Z.Bienenforsch. 4 (7): 149-150.
5. DEVROYE, H (1990) Comparative study of the degradation of honey during liquefaction by treatment in a hot
room and by microwaves. Abeille de France (753): 418-420.
6. GONNET, M (1975) La pasteurisation du miel. Bulletin Tchnique Apicole 3: 27-32.
7. HEBBAR, H U; NANDINI, K E; LAKSHMI, M C; SUBRAMANIAN, R (2003) Microwave and infrared heat
processing of honey and its quality. Food Science and Technology Research 9 (1): 49-53.
8. IMDORF, A; BOGDANOV, S; KILCHENMANN, V (1985) 'Zementhonig' im Honig- und Brutraum - was
dann? 1. Teil: Wie berwintern Bienenvlker auf Zementhonig? Schweizerische Bienen-Zeitung 108
(10): 534-544.
9. IVANOV, T; IVANOVA, T (1995) Effect of ultrasonic, microwave and x-ray treatments of honey on its
quality, Apimondia congress No 34, Lausanne: pp 385-388.
10. JANNE, F (1985) La refonte du miel. Bulletin Tchnique Apicole 12 (1): 33-40.
11. KALOYEREAS, S A; OERTEL, E (1958) Crystallization of honey as affected by ultrasonic waves, freezing,
and inhibitors. American Bee Journal 98 (11): 442-443.
12. LIEBL, D E (1978) Ultrasound and granulation in honey. American Bee Journal 118 (2): 107.
13. NATIONAL, H B (1998) Honey and microwaveable foods. Honey: A natural microwave reactive ingredient
for baked goods formulation. Honey Information Kit for the Food and Beverage Industries
14. SPRGIN, K N (1978) Method for processing honey and apparatus for carrying out the method. Verfahren
zum Behandeln von Bienenhonig und Gert zur Durchfhrung dieses Verfahrens, 13pp. German
Federal Republic Offenlegungsschrift (Patent Application) (27 02 132)
15. SUBRAMANIAN, R; HEBBAR, H U; RASTOGI, N K (2007) Processing of honey: A review.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF FOOD PROPERTIES 10 (1): 127-143.
16. TABOURET, T; MATHLOUTHI, M (1972) Essai de pasteurisation de miel. Rev.franc.Apic. 299: 258-261.
17. TOWNSEND, G F (1975) Processing and storing liquid honey, In Crane, E (ed.), Heinemann, London: pp
269-292.
18. VALBUENA, A O; SILVA, M C (1995) Liquefazione del miele con microonde. Rivista di Apicoltura (No. 3):
24-26.
19. WHITE, J W; RIETHOF M.L.; SUBERS M.H.; KUSHNIR, I (1962) Composition of American honeys.
Bull.Tech.U.S.Dep.Agric. (1261): 1-65.



Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 19
Physical Properties of Honey




Knowledge of the physical characteristics of honey are important for the different aspects of honey
technology: harvest, processing, storage, granulation and liquefaction
8, 47
, see chapter 3.

WATER CONTENT AND WATER ACTIVITY

Water
Content,
Refractive
Index
Water
Content
Refractive
Index
Water
Content
Refractive
Index
g/100 g 20C g/100 g 20C g/100 g 20C
13.0 1.5044 17.0 1.4940 21.0 1.4840
13.2 1.5038 17.2 1.4935 21.2 1.4835
13.4 1.5033 17.4 1.4930 21.4 1.4830
13.6 1.5028 17.6 1.4925 21.6 1.4825
13.8 1.5023 17.8 1.4920 21.8 1.4820
14.0 1.5018 18.0 1.4915 22.0 1.4815
14.2 1.5012 18.2 1.4910 22.2 1.4810
14.4 1.5007 18.4 1.4905 22.4 1.4805
14.6 1.5002 18.6 1.4900 22.6 1.4800
14.8 1.4997 18.8 1.4895 22.8 1.4795
15.0 1.4992 19.0 1.4890 23.0 1.4790
15.2 1.4987 19.2 1.4885 23.2 1.4785
15.4 1.4982 19.4 1.4880 23.4 1.4780
15.6 1.4976 19.6 1.4875 23.6 1.4775
15.8 1.4971 19.8 1.4870 23.8 1.4770
16.0 1.4966 20.0 1.4865 24.0 1.4765
16.2 1.4961 20.2 1.4860 24.2 1.4760
16.4 1.4956 20.4 1.4855 24.4 1.4755
16.6 1.4951 20.6 1.4850 24.6 1.4750
16.8 1.4946 20.8 1.4845 24.8 1.4745
25.0 1.4740
after Chataway
10

Relationship between water content of honey to refractive index.

Temperatures above 20
o
C: add 0.00023 per
o
C.
Temperatures below 20
o
C: substract 0.00023 per
o
C.
The table is derived from a formula developed by Wedmore
46
from the data of Chataway
10


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 20

W=
1.73190 - log(R.I.-1)
0.002243


W is the water content in g per 100 g honey and R.I. is the refractive index

The water content is a quality parameter, important above all for honey shelf life. Higher honey humidity
will often cause fermentation. There is a relation between honey water content and the yeast count (see
chapter on honey microbiology). At 17 % humidity. there is a very minimal fermentation danger due to the
very low yeast content.


Abbe Refractometer Digital Refractometer

The capacity of honey to break the light is used for the refractometric determination of humidity. Both Abbe
and digital refractometers can be used. However, this measurement does not reflect the true water content.
Indeed, measurements of water content by the Karl Fischer method showed, that the refractometric
measurements overestimates the true water content by about 1 Brix unit
21, 51
. As the refractometric moisture
determination has proved useful in routine control, there is no reason to replace this simple measurement by
the more complicated and expensive Karl Fischer technique.
The water activity (a
w
) is proportional to the free water content in food. In honey a part of the water is bound
to sugars and is thus unavailable for microorganisms, thus the a
w
value and not the overall water content is
the criteria determining bacterial spoilage. The a
w
values of honey vary between 0.55 und 0.75, honeys with
an a
w
value < 0,60 are microbiologically stable
7, 33, 35
. Actually, it is the better quality criteria for honey than
the water content, because it will indicate the free water content, which is microbiologically active to
eventually cause fermentation. However, the simple and fast measurement of the water content has proven
sufficient for assaying the fermentation risk of honey.

Further Reading:
9, 11, 12, 16, 22, 25, 38, 40, 50


FLUIDITY AND VISCOSITY
Honey is a viscous liquid. Honey viscosity depends on the water content and on temperature (table below).
Honey with higher water content flows faster than that with lower one. Temperature influences also greatly
honey viscosity. At room temperature (20
o
C) the viscosity of most honeys is not high enough to allow a
good fluidity and an easy harvesting. At 30
o .
C
,
where the viscosity values are mostly lower than 100 poise,
the fluidity of most honeys is high enough for efficient handling. Honey granulation results in a dramatic
increase of viscosity of a factor of 10, while the dependence of viscosity of granulated honey on the water

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 21
content and on temperature is similar to that of liquid honey
19
. Higher temperatures are necessary to allow
easy handling of granulated honey, at which liquefaction can take place. The composition of honey generally
has a little effect on honey viscosity. However, there are honeys, which show different characteristics in
regard to viscosity, e.g. heather (Calluna vulgaris) and manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) honeys are
described as thyxotrophic which means they are gel-like (extremely viscous) when standing still, while they
turn liquid when agitated or stirred. The viscosity of heather honey is so high, that centrifugation of honey
from the combs is very difficult.

Dependence of the viscosity (in poise) on the water content and temperature of liquid honey after
28


% humidity 15
o
C 20
o
C 25
o
C 30
o
C 35
o
C
14.2 > 800 540 250 120 80
15.5 650 250 130 80 30
17.1 293 115 75 30 20
18. 200 85 50 20 18

Dependence of the viscosity (in poise, p.) on temperature on the water content of liquid honey, after
3


At 16% moisture :
14C : 600 p. ; 20C : 190 p.
30C : 65 p. ; 40C : 20 p.
50C : 10 p. ; 70C : 3 p.
At 25C:
13.7% : 420 p ; 14.2% : 270 p; 15.5% : 138 p
17.1% : 70 p. ; 18.2% : 48 p. ; 19.1% : 35 p.
20.2% : 20 p. 14 p. : 14 p.

Further Reading:
1, 17, 23, 24, 27, 31, 42, 49


DENSITY
Another physical characteristic of practical importance is density. Honey density, expressed as specific
gravity, is greater than water density by about 50 %, and it also depends on the water content. Because of the
variation in density it is sometimes possible to observe distinct stratification of honey in large storage tanks.
The high water content (less dense) honey settles above the denser, drier honey. Such inconvenient
separation can be avoided by more thorough mixing.

Specific gravity of honeys with different water content
47


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 22

Water content
(%)
Specific
gravity at
20C
Water content
(%)
Specific
gravity at
20C
Water content
(%)
Specific
gravity
at 20C
13.0 1.4457 16.0 1.4295 19.0 1.4101
14.0 1.4404 17.0 1.4237 20.0 1.4027
15.0 1.4350 18.0 1.4171 21.0 1.3950




HYGROSCOPICITY
Honey is strongly hygroscopic, this characteristics being important
in processing and storage. From the table below it can be seen that
normal honey with a water content of 18.3 % or less will absorb
moisture from the air at a relative humidity of above 60%. Thus it is
important to keep honey well closed when it is stored in humid
places. Also, under conditions of moist climate the bees have
difficulties to keep the moisture down to safe levels, and undesirable
fermentation might be the consequence.


Graph moisture content of honey versus relative humidity
3



Approximate equilibrium between relative humidity (RH) of ambient air and water
content of a clover honey
47


Air (%RH) 50 55 60 65 70 75 80
% honey water content 15.9 16.8 18.3 20.9 24.2 28.3 33.1


THERMAL PROPERTIES
For the design of honey processing plants its thermal properties have to be taken into account. The heat
absorbing capacity, i.e. specific heat, varies from 0.56 to 0.73 cal/g/
0
C according to its composition and state
of crystallisation. The thermal conductivity varies from 118 to 143 x 10
-5
cal/cm
2
/sec/
0
C
47
Thus, the
amount of heat for cooling and mixing which is necessary to treat honey, i.e. before and after filtration or
pasteurisation, can be calculated. The relatively low heat conductivity, combined with high viscosity leads to
rapid overheating from point-heat sources (see liquefaction in chapter 3).

Further Reading:
24, 25


ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITY
Honey contains minerals and acids, serving as electrolytes, which can conduct the electrical current. The
measurement of electrical conductivity (EC) was introduced in 1964
45
. At present it is the most useful
quality parameter for the classification of unifloral honeys, which can be determined by a relatively
inexpensive instrumentation. This parameter was included recently in the new international standards for

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 23
honey of the Codex Alimentarius and the European Union, replacing the of ash content. Accordingly
blossom honeys should have less, honeydew honeys more than 0.8 mS/cm. Exceptions are Arbutus, Banksia,
Erica, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, Eucalyptus and Tiglia honeys and blends with them, see EU and Codex
Alimentarius standards on this website.
There is a linear relationship between ash content and electrical conductivity
2
. Measurements of ash content
can be concerted to electrical conductivity units by a simple calculation:
C = 0.14 + 1.74 x A
Where C in the electrical conductivity in milli-Siemens per cm and the ash content in g/100 g.

Further Reading:
2, 36, 37, 39


COLOUR
Colour in liquid honey varies from clear and colourless (like water) to dark amber or black The various
honey colours are basically all nuances of yellow amber.
The most important aspect of honey colour lies in its value for marketing and determination of its end use.
Darker honeys are more often for industrial use, while lighter honeys are marketed for direct consumption.
While light honeys (e.g. acacia) achieve generally higher prices, there are also countries (Germany,
Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Turkey) where consumers prefer dark honeydew honeys.

Honey colour expressed in different units
Honey colour is frequently given in millimetres Pfund scale, while an optical density reading is generally
used in international honey trade
14
or according to the Lovibond Schale
4
, used by the US Department of
Agriculture, with following relation between both:

USDA colour
standards
Lovibond
scale disk
Pfund
scale
(mm)
USDA colour
standards
Lovibond
scaleII
disk
Pfund
scale (mm)
water white 30 11 light amber 150 71
extra white 40 18 light amber 200 83
white 50 27 amber 250 92
white 60 35 amber 300 99
extra light amber 70 41 amber 400 110
extra light amber 80 46 dark amber 500 119
extra light amber 90 51 dark amber 650 130
light amber 100 55 dark amber 800 140
light amber 120 62

The values of these comparators give a measure of colour intensity, but only along the normal amber tone of
honey. The Lovibond comparators are easier to handle than the Pfund graders, but honey is generally
marketed according to the Pfund colour scale. That is why at present Lovibond graders with a Pfund scale
are marketed. Other more objective methods have also been tested, as the determination of all colour
parameters through the CIE L*a*b* tristimulus method
5, 30, 44
, or reflectance spectroscopy
29, 43


Further Reading:
4, 18, 20, 26, 41, 43, 48


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 24
OPTICAL ROTATION
Honey has also the property to rotate the plane of polarisation of polarised light. This property is due to the
individual sugars. As a sugar solution, honey has the property of rotating the plane of polarised light. Some
sugars (e.g. fructose) exhibit a negative optical rotation, while others (e.g. glucose ) a positive one. The
overall optical rotation depends on the concentration of the various sugars in honey. Blossom honey have
negative values and honeydew honeys have mostly positive values
32
, but the values for the different
unifloral honeys are not very typical. Thus, the determination of the electrical conductivity is the better tool
for the prediction of the botanical origin of honey.

Further reading:
6, 13, 15, 34



References



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Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 27
Honey Composition



CHEMICAL COMPOSITION
Honey is composed mainly from carbohydrates, lesser amounts of water and a great number of minor
components.
Honey composition after
75, 80
, values in g/100 g
Blossom honey Honeydew honey
average min-max average min-max
Water content 17.2 15-20 16.3 15-20
Fructose 38.2 30-45 31.8 28-40
Glucose 31.3 24-40 26.1 19-32
Sucrose 0.7 0.1-4.8 0.5 0.1-4.7
Other disaccharides 5.0 28 4.0 16
Melezitose <0.1 4.0 0.3-22.0
Erlose 0.8 0.56 1.0 0.16
Other oligosaccharides 3.6 0.5-1 13.1 0.1-6
Total sugars 79.7 80.5
Minerals 0.2 0.1-0.5 0.9 0.6-2
Amino acids, proteins 0.3 0.2-0.4 0.6 0.4-0.7
Acids 0.5 0.2-0.8 1.1 0.8-1.5
pH 3.9 3.5-4.5 5.2 4.5-6.5

Further reading:
8, 44, 75

Carbohydrates

Sugars are the main constituents of honey, comprising about 95 % of honey dry weight. Main sugars are the
monosaccharides hexoses fructose and glucose, which are products by the hydrolysis of the disaccharide
sucrose. Besides, about 25 different sugars have been detected
29, 62
. The principal oligosaccharides in
blossom honeys are disaccharides: sucrose, maltose, turanose, erlose. Honeydew honeys contain besides,

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 28
also the trisaccharides melezitose and raffinose. Trace amounts of tetra and pentasaccharides have also been
isolated.
The relative amount of the two monosaccharides fructose and glucose is useful for the classification of
unifloral honeys
12
. On the other hand, the sugar spectra of minor sugars does not differ greatly in different
blossom honeys
12
. This is due to the fact, that the oligosaccharides are mainly a product of honey invertase
75
. There are considerable differences between the sugar spectra of blossom and honeydew honeys, the latter
containing a higher amount of oligosaccharides, mainly the trisaccharides melezitose and raffinose, both
absent in blossom honeys (see table above ) The differentiation between different types of honeydew honeys
is difficult. An attempt to differentiate between honeydew honeys from various aphids was made by
determination of specific oligosaccharides
72
. Metcalfa honey, a new honeydew honey type, produced mainly
in Italy, can be distinguished from other honeydew honeys as it is rich in maltotriose and contains
particularly high amounts of oligomers called dextrins
36
.
The sugar composition can be determined by different chromatographic methods
11
, HPLC being the most
widely used one
12
.

Further reading:
19, 25, 47, 50


Acidity and pH
The acid content of honey is relatively low but it is important for the honey taste. Most acids are added by
the bees
31
. The main acid is gluconic acid, a product of glucose oxidation by glucose oxidase. However, it is
present as its internal ester, a lactone, and does not contribute to honeys active acidity. Honey acidity is
determined by titration
11
and is expressed in milli equivalents per kg. The following acid have been found
in minor amounts: formic, acetic, citric, lactic, maleic, malic, oxalic, pyroglutamic and succinic
48
.
Most honeys are acidic, that means that the pH value is smaller than 7. The pH of blossom honeys varies
between 3.3 to 4.6. An exception is the chestnut honey with a relatively high pH value of 5 to 6. Honeydew
honeys, due to their higher mineral content, have a higher pH value, varying between 4.5 and 6.5. Honey is a
buffer, that means that that its pH does not change by the addition of small quantities of acids and bases. The
buffer capacity is due to the content of phosphates, carbonates and other mineral salts.
Amino acids and proteins
The content of amino acids and proteins is relatively small, at the most 0.7 % (see table above).
Honey contains almost all physiologically important amino acids
20, 53, 54
. The main amino acid is proline is a
measure of honey ripeness
71
. The proline content of normal honeys should be more than 200 mg/kg. Values
below 180 mg/kg mean that the honey is probably adulterated by sugar addition.
The honey proteins are mainly enzymes, reviewed by White
75
. Bees add different enzymes during the
process of honey ripening. Diastase (amylase) digests starch to maltose and is relatively stable to heat and
storage. Invertase (saccharase, -glucosidase), catalyses mainly the conversion of sucrose to glucose and
fructose, but also many other sugar conversions
59
. Two other main enzymes glucose oxidase and catalase
regulate the production of H
2
0
2
, one of the honey antibacterial factors.
Diastase and invertase play an important role for judging of honey quality and are used as indicators of
honey freshness. A minimum value of 8 diastase units is set in the Codex Alimentarius and the European
honey directive. Their activity decay upon storage and heating of honey (see chapter 7). Invertase is more
susceptible to damage by storage and heat and is used in some countries as an indicator for honey virginity
and freshness. Fresh and virgin honeys are supposed to have at least 10 Hadorn invertase units
30
, or 64
International units, while honeys with low enzyme activity should have at least 4 units
30, 73
. The diastase and
invertase activity vary in wide limits, depending on the botanical origin of honey
55, 56
and thus have a limited
freshness indicating power. HMF is the better quality criterion in this respect.

Further reading:
2-5, 16, 38, 40, 42, 46, 51, 52, 54, 55, 57


Hydroxymethylfurfuraldehyde (HMF)
Hydroxymethylfurfuraldehyde or HMF is a decomposition product of fructose. In fresh honey it is present
only in trace amounts and its concentration increases with storage and prolonged heating of honey. The HMF

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 29
building process depends on the pH, in the more acidic blossom honey it is built at a higher pace than in
darker honeys with higher pH
67
. Short term heat treatment, even at higher temperature will increase the
HMF content is only slightly
64, 65
, while upon storage of honey there is a steady temperature dependent
increase of HMF. According to the Codex Alimentarius and EU standards the HMF maximum is 40 mg/kg,
while honey from the tropics and blends with themshould not have more than 80 mg/kg . Beekeeping
organisations of some countries, e.g. Germany, Italy, Finland, Switzerland have set a maximum of 15 mg/kg
for specially labelled quality or virgin honeys.

Building of HMF from a hexose sugar:




Further reading:
34, 39, 43, 58, 70, 74, 77


Minerals und trace elements
Blossom honeys have a mineral content mostly between 0.1 and 0.3 %, while that of honeydew honeys can
reach 1 % of the total. In early times the mineral content was determined as a quality criterion of honey.
Today, this measurement is replaced by the determination of electrical conductivity.
Honey contains varying amounts of mineral substances ranging from 0.02 to 1.03 g/100 g
75
. The main
element found in honey is potassium, besides many other elements (table) Potassium, with an average of
about one third of the total, is the main mineral element, but there is a wide variety of trace elements
Several investigations have shown that the trace element content of honey depends mainly on the botanical
origin of honey, light blossom honeys having a lower content than dark honeys, e.g. honeydew, chestnut and
heather
35, 37, 61
. It was possible to differentiate between different unifloral honeys by determination of
different trace elements
9, 49
.

Trace elements in honey, after
10


Element mg/100 g Element mg/100 g
Aluminium (Al) 0.01 - 2.4 Lead (Pb)* 0.001 - 0.03
Arsen (As) 0.014 - 0.026 Lithium (Li) 0.225 - 1.56
Barium (Ba) 0.01 - 0.08 Molybdenum (Mo) 0 - 0.004
Boron (B) 0.05 - 0.3 Nickel (Ni) 0 - 0.051
Bromine (Br) 0.4 - 1.3 Rubidium (Rb) 0.040 - 3.5
Cadmium (Cd)* 0 - 0.001 Silicium (Si) 0.05 - 24
Chlorine (Cl) 0.4 - 56 Strontium (Sr) 0.04 - 0.35
Cobalt (Co) 0.1 - 0.35 Sulfur (S) 0.7 - 26
Floride (F) 0.4 - 1.34 Vanadium (V) 0 - 0.013
Iodine (I) 10 - 100 Zirkonium (Zr) 0.05 - 0.08
*- elements regarded as toxic, can be partially of anthropological origin

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 30
Aroma compounds and phenolics

Honey volatiles are the substances responsible for the honey aroma. Research on
honey volatiles started in the early 1960s. Recently, by studying volatiles isolated
from the blossom and from the respective unifloral honey, it was found that most
volatile compounds originate probably from the plant, but some of them are added
by bees
1, 14
. Until the present time about 600 compounds have been characterised in
different honeys. As unifloral honeys differ in respect of their sensory properties, it
is probable that analysis of volatile compounds will allow classification of unifloral
honeys. Indeed, typical volatile substances have been found in many unifloral
honey and analysis of volatiles substances can be used for the authentification of
the botanical origin of honey
12, 21
.
Phenolic acids and polyphenols are plant-derived secondary metabolites. These
compounds have been used as chemotaxonomic markers in plant systematics. They
have been suggested as possible markers for the determination of botanical origin of honey. Considerable
differences in composition and content of phenolic compounds between different unifloral honeys were
found. Dark coloured honeys are reported to contain more phenolic acid derivatives but less flavonoids than
light coloured ones (Amiot et al., 1989). It was shown that most of the studied 9 European unifloral honeys
can be distinguished by their typical flavonoid profile
69
.Honey samples contain also variable amounts of
propolis-derived phenolic compounds that were not helpful for the determination of botanical origin. On the
whole, the determination of the flavonoid patterns is useful for the classification of some but not all unifloral
honeys. For a more in depth analysis of the flavonoid spectra of unifloral honeys see
12, 28
.

Further reading:
12, 13, 21, 24, 26-28, 76


Contaminants and toxic compounds
Honey, as any other food can be contaminated from the environment, e.g. heavy metals, pesticides,
antibiotics etc.
7
. Generally, the contamination levels found do not present a health hazard. The main problem
today is contamination by antibiotics, used against the bee brood diseases. In the European Union antibiotics
are not allowed to be used, and thus honey containing antibiotics is also not permitted on the market.
A few plants yield nectar containing toxic substances. There are two main toxin groups: diterpenoids and
pyrrazolidine alkaloids . Some plants of the Ericacea family belonging to the sub-family Rhododendron, e.g.
Rhododendron ponticum contain toxic polyhydroxylated cyclic hydrocarbons or diterpenoids
22
. Substance of
the other toxin group, pyrazolidine alkaloids, are found in different honey types and the potential intoxication
by these substances is reviewed
32
. Cases of honey poisoning have been reported very rarely in the literature
and concern mostly individuals from following regions: Caucasus, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia, Japan,
Nepal, South Africa and different countries in North and South America. The symptoms encountered after
honey poisoning are: vomiting, headache, stomach ache, unconsciousness, delirium, nausea, sight weakness.
The poisonous plants are generally known to the beekeepers, thus honeys which can contain poisonous
substances are not marketed. To minimise risks in countries where plants with poisonous nectar are growing,
tourists are advised to buy honeys from the market and not from individual beekeepers.

Further reading:
7, 10


MICROBIOLOGICAL COMPOSITION
Bacteria
Honey, is a very concentrated sugar solution with a high osmotic pressure, making impossible the growth of
any microorganisms. It contains less microorganisms than other natural food, especially there are no
dangerous Bacillus species. Honey contains Bacillus bacteria, causing the dangerous bee pests, but these are
not toxic for humans. That is why, in order to prevent bee pests, honey should not be disposed in open
places, where it can easily be accessed by bees.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 31
However, a number of bacteria are present in honey, most of them being harmless to man. Recent extensive
reviews covered the main aspects of honey microbiology and the possible risks
15, 63, 78
.
The presence of Clostridium .botulinum spores in honey was reported for the first time in 1976
41
. Since then
there were many studies in honey all over the world. In some of them no Botulinum was found, in others, few
honeys were found to contain the spores.
15, 23, 63, 66
Honey does not contain the Botulinum toxin, but the
spores can theoretically build the toxin after digestion of infants until one year old. Very few cases of infant
botulism after ingestion of honey have been reported lately and this has been attributed to C. botulinum
spores present in honey. These findings have lead the health authorities of some countries (US, UK) to label
honeys, that honey be not given to infants until one year of age. Most countries find that such notice is
unnecessary. Indeed, honey is not the only source of C. botulinum spores as it can be found in any natural
food.
In 2002 an expert study of the Health and Consumer Directorate of the European Commission carried out on
Honey and microbiological hazards
33
. It was concluded that:
Although infant botulism is a serious illness, mortality is very low. In general, in Europe, the risk of infant
botulism is extremely low. The majority of infants suffering from botulism have been given honey. The level
and frequency of contamination of honey with spores of C. botulinum appear generally to be low, although
limited microbiological testing of honey has been performed. The routes by which spores of C.botulinum
contaminate honey have not been precisely identified.
Although some geographical regions of the world can be associated with a particular type of C. botulinum in
the soil, it is not possible to identify countries as the origin of honey with a greater risk of containing C.
botulinum.
C. botulinum can survive as spores in honey but cannot multiply or produce toxins due to the inhibitory
properties of honey. At present there is no process that could be applied to remove or kill spores of C.
botulinum in honey without impairing product quality.
Microbiological testing would not be an effective control option against infant botulism, due to the
sporadic occurrence and low levels of C. botulinum in honey.
Yeast
Honey contains naturally different osmotolerant yeast, which can cause undesirable fermentation.
Osmotolerant yeasts can particularly develop in honeys with high moisture content.
In 1933 Lochhead
45
summarised investigations on the relationship of moisture content and fermentation on
319 honey samples as follows:
Relationship of moisture content of honey and fermentation risk
45


Moisture content Liability to fermentation
Less than 17.1 Safe regardless of yeast count
17.1-18 % Safe if yeast count < 1000/g
18.1-19 Safe if yeast count < 10/g
19.1-20 % Safe if yeast count < 1/g
Above 20 % Always in danger


These conclusions, although based on old research, have been confirmed by practice. Some honey types,
e.g. rape, sunflower and also honeys from tropical countries has a higher content of osmotolerant yeast and
are less stable than other honeys with normal yeast counts
68

Honey fermentation is undesirable. The easiest way to control is to harvest honey with low humidity. Also, it
should be stored in air-tight vessels. Fermentation control is carried out by determination of yeast count,
ethanol and glycerin content. Honey should comply to following quality criteria:
Yeast count maximum 500000 per 10 g
6, 60

Glycerol, maximum content: 300 mg/kg
6, 60

Ethanol, maximum content 150 mg/kg
79


Further Reading :
15, 17, 18, 63, 78



Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 32
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64. SUBRAMANIAN, R; HEBBAR, H U; RASTOGI, N K (2007) Processing of honey: A review.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF FOOD PROPERTIES 10 (1): 127-143.
65. TABOURET, T; MATHLOUTHI, M (1972) Essai de pasteurisation de miel. Rev.franc.Apic. 299: 258-261.
66. TANZI, M G; GABAY, M P (2002) Association between honey consumption and infant botulism.
Pharmacotherapy 22 (11): 1479-1483.
67. THRASYVOULOU, A (1997) Heating times for Greek honeys. Melissokomiki Epitheorisi 11 (2): 79-80.
68. TIMMROTH, R; SPEER, K; BECKH, G; LLLMANN, C (2005) Comparison of European honeys to tropical
honeys - effects of yeast cell numbers on the concentration of especially selected components
Apimondia abstracts Ireland 2005, Apimondia International Apicultural Congress Dublin, Ireland;
Dublin, Ireland; pp 110.
69. TOMS-BARBERN, F A; MARTOS, I; FERRERES, F; RADOVIC, B S; ANKLAM, E (2001) HPLC
flavonoid profiles as markers for the botanical origin of European unifloral honeys. Journal of the
Science of Food and Agriculture 81 (5): 485-496.
70. TOSI, E; CIAPPINI, M; RE, E; LUCERO, H (2002) Honey thermal treatment effects on
hydroxymethylfurfural content. Food Chemistry 77 (1): 71-74.
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Methoden zur Bestimmung der Saccharase-Aktivitt im Honig. Apidologie 30: 412-413.
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76. WOLSKI, T; TAMBOR, K; RYBAK-CHMIELEWSKA, H; KEDZIA, B (2006) Identification of honey
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80. [ANON] (1995) Swiss food manual, Chapter 23 A, Honey. Eidgenssische Druck und Materialzentrale Bern




Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 37
Honeys Types



HONEY TYPES AND STYLES ACCORDING TO PROCESSING AND
PRODUCTION

Designation according to production
Extracted Honey is honey obtained by centrifuging decapped broodless combs. This is most of the honey
which is marketed in most countries of the world
Pressed Honey is honey obtained by pressing broodless combs.
Drained Honey is honey obtained by draining decapped broodless combs.


Drained honey

Organic honey
Organic honey is produced by apiaries with certified organic beekeeping. The composition of organic honey
is the same as normal natural honey. The only difference is that such honey should not contain toxic residues
of pesticides used in agriculture and beekeeping.






Honey may be designated according to the following styles according to the processing procedure:
Normal honey which is honey in liquid or crystalline state or a mixture of the two;
Comb Honey which is honey stored by bees in the cells of freshly built broodless combs and which is sold in
sealed whole combs or sections of such combs;
Cut comb in honey or chunk honey which is honey containing one or more pieces of comb honey.


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 38

Chunk honey

Comb honey

HONEY TYPES REFERRING TO HONEY ORIGIN
The Codex Alimenterius states:
Honey may be designated by the name of the geographical or topographical region if the honey
was produced exclusively within the area referred to in the designation.
Honey may be designated according to floral or plant source if it comes wholly or mainly from
that particular source and has the organoleptic, physicochemical and microscopic properties
corresponding with that origin.
This means that honey can be designated according to its geographical and botanical origin.
Botanical origin of honey
Generally there are two types of honey: blossom and honeydew.
Due to different proportions of the possible sources, nectar and/or honeydew coming from a great variety of
plants, no honey is completely the same as another one. This variability could be a handicap, given the
market requirement for a consistent product, but when properly managed, it also could represent an
opportunity for enhancing honey by offering to the consumer a number of typical products with special
characteristics, according to the particular botanical origin. Indeed, unifloral honeys are regarded as a more
valuable class of honey, and botanical denominations are widely employed on the European market, often
achieving higher prices than honey blends. Unifloral honeys have higher prices than blend honeys. Most
unifloral honeys are marketed in Europe. In countries like France, Italy and Spain 30 to 50 % of the marketed
honey is unifloral.
There are dozens of plants that can produce enough nectar or honeydew, from which the beekeepers can
produce unifloral honeys
4
Most of them have only a limited, local significance for the local and only about a
dozen are important for the world honey market.
Information on European honeys is compiled in the special Apidologie Issue 35 from 2004. In Europe there
are more than 100 plant species that give origin to unifloral honey, most of them having only a local
importance
14
. In this issue 15 most important unifloral European honeys were characterized, from sensory,
melissopalynological and physico-chemical point of view
15
, and also extensive bibliographical review on
these honeys was made
16
. This will allow the trade of unifloral honeys on the European market. Presently, a
honey specialist can judge the quality of a unifloral honey according to sensory, melissopalynological and
routine physico-chemical analysis
13
. This is to some extent subjective, as the sensory analysis has a very big
importance. This could be overcome by judging the sensory characteristics by sensory panels.
Recent pubicatons on non-European unifloral honeys and their productsion can be found in: Algeria
8
Argentina:
9, 10
; Australia:
5, 11
; China:
6
; Morocco:
18-21
; New-Zealand: Tan 1989-90;, 2007; Older
publications are reviewed in Cranes monographs on the subject
2-4
.
In the table below the properties of the most common unifloral honey species in the world are given. While
some honey types, e.g. black locust (Acacia, Robinia pseudocacia) and linden are very similar all over the
world. Some types, e.g. eucalyptus, thyme, orange blossom can vary considerably in taste and colour,
depending on the plant and country of origin. The appreciation of unifloral honey varies in the different parts
of the world. While honeydew honey, e.g. fir and pine honey are especially appreciated in different parts of
Europe in other parts of the world it is less appreciated.
Further Reading:
1, 13-16, 22


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 39

Harvest and properties of the main world unifloral honeys
Common
name
Botanical name
of plant
Place of harvest Colour, Pfund scale Granulation:
speed, crystals
form
Flavour

Acacia Robinia
pseudoacacia
temperate Europe, Asia,
America, Oceania
light water-white to
extra-white
slow
coarse
weak
floral, fresh
Eucalyptus* Eucalyptus spp. S. Europe, Oceania, Africa, S.
America
yellow to brown
white to amber
rapid to
medium
fine to medium
medium-strong
caramel
Fir
Spruce
Abies alba
Picea abies
Central and Southern Europe dark brown amber to
dark amber
very slow
coarse
medium-strong,
woody-resinous
Heather Calluna
vulgaris
Europe brown-reddish
amber to dark amber
medium gel
consistency
coarse crystals
strong
caramelised,
floral-fruity
Lavender Lavandula
intermedia
temperate Europe, Asia and
N. America
lightwhite to extra light
amber
rapid
fine
medium warm,
refreshing
Lime,
linden

Tilia spp.

temperate Europe and Asia,
temperate and subtropical N.
America
white to yellow,
white to amber
rapid to
medium
fine to medium
strong, fresh,
pharmaceutical

Orange
blossom
Citrus spp.

Europe, temperate and
subtropical, N.America, S.
America
very light white

rapid,
fine
medium floral,
fruity

Pine

Pinus spp.

temperate Europe, Asia,
Oceania
brownish amber-dark
amber
slow
coarse
medium-strong
malty, resinous
Rape Brassica napus Europe, North America, white to yellowish
white
rapid,
fine
medium
vegetable
Rosemary Rosmarinus
officinalis
temperate Europe, Asia,
Africa
lightwhite to extra light
amber
fastfine floral, fruity
Sunflower

Helianthus
annuus

temperate Europe, S. and N.
America, Asia; subtr. Asia,
Africa, Oceania; trop. Africa
N.America.
yellow to goldenlight
amber

rapidfine

weak
vegetable, warm
Sweet
chestnut
Castanea sativa Europe redish-brownamber to
dark amber
slow coarse strong
mouldy,
caramelised,
bitter
Thyme Thymus
capitatus
Mediterranean and temperate
Europe, N. America, Oceania
yellow-lightbrown
amber to amber
fast to
mediumfine to
medium
strong
woody-aromatic,
resinous
White
clover
Trifolium
repens
Europe, N. America lightwhite to light
amber
rapid, fine
granulation
weak
vegetal
Honey from other Bees

Meliponae combs
Brazil

Meliponae honey
Brazil

A. dorsata bees in a forest tree
from India

A. dorsata honey
from India
The honey referred to in this book is mostly from Apis mellifera, the European honeybee species which has
now spread all around the world. This honey is undoubtedly the most widely collected and marketed around
the world. However, regionally there are honeys made by other bee species which are sometimes collected in
considerable quantities especially from Apis cerana in China.
In tropical Asia there are three Apis species which can make honey: A. cerana, A. dorsata and A. florae, A.
cerana producing by far the largest quantities of honey. This honey very similar in composition and taste
similarly to the Mellifera honey (see table below). Generally, these honeys have only a local significance and
are not marketed world-wide. A notable exception is the A. cerana honey from China, which is produced in

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 40
large quantities, as about 1/3 of the Chinese bees belong to that species. Indeed, experience has shown that A.
cerana honey fulfils the Codex quality requirements.
Honey from Asian honey outside China are reviewed. Their main peculiarity is the higher water content
lying between 21 and 23 %. Invertase activity is similar or higher to that of Melifera honeys. On the other
hand, the pH, the sugar content and composition are very similar to the Melifera honey ones. Another
peculiarity is that many of the Cerana honeys seem to originate from honeydew
7
.
There is a variety of stingless bee species or so called Meliponae, producing honey, mainly cultivated in
Africa, Middle and South America and Oceania. The honeys have a local significance and have been
investigated increasingly in recent years, especially those from Latin America. A recent publication
summarises the research in stingless bee honey in Latin America
17
. In table the compositional criteria of
a number of stingless bee honeys has been summarised. In comparison to Melifera honeys stingless bee
honeys have: a higher water content, acidity and electrical conductivity and a lower diastase activity and
sugar content. Stingless bee honeys are reputed to have a high healing power. In a recent publication it was
found that their antioxidant activity is particularly high, equal to that of Melifera honey with especially high
antioxidant activity (Persano et al., 2008).
Average composition and quality parameters in honey of stingless bees
17,12
and Asian honeys
7
.
Bee species
Physico-chemical parameters
1

pH
Free
Acidity
(meq/Kg
honey)
Ash
(g/100 g
honey)
Diastase
activity
(DN)
2

Electrical
conduct.
(mS/cm)
HMF
(mg/Kg
honey)
Invertase
activity
(IU)
3
Nitrogen
(mg/100 g
honey)
Reducing
sugars
(g/100 g
honey)
Sucrose
(g/100 g
honey)
Water
(g/100 g
honey)
Stingless bees
Meliponini 3.81 44.8 0.34 6.7 2.34 14.4 48.7 58.3 66.0 2.3 26.7
Melipona spp. 3.82 41.8 0.20 3.1 2.62 16.0 56.3 40.8 69.1 2.2 27.2
other Meliponini 3.80 49.6 0.60 16.2 1.88 11.9 37.4 110.9 63.8 2.5 26.0
M.asilavai 3.27 41.6 41.6 3.63 2.4 68.9 4.7 29.5
M. compressipes 3.27 36.6 0.26 4.5 8.77 17.1 33.2 70.5 2.5 23.8
M. favosa 3.67 49.9 0.22 1.9 2.06 9.1 90.1 55.8 71.2 1.7 26.0
M. mandacaia 3.27 43.5

3.52 5.8

74.8 2.9 28.8
T. angustula 3.93 49.7 0.38 20.5 3.07 13.3 50.1 99.3 63.1 2.3 24.7
T.carbonaria 4.0 124.2 0.48 0.4 1.64 1.2 41.9 202.3 64.1 1.8 26.5
Asian bees
A. dorsata 3.68 0.96 373.4 73.5 0.33 21.5
A. cerana 3.62 0.65 218.2 75.4 1.39 20.2

References

1. BOGDANOV, S; RUOFF, K; PERSANO ODDO, L (2004) Physico-chemical methods for the characterisation
of unifloral honeys: a review. Apidologie 35 (Special issue): 4-17.
2. CRANE, E; WALKER, P (1984) Composition of honeys from some important honey sources. Bee World 65
(4): 167-174.
3. CRANE, E; WALKER, P (1985) Important honeydew sources and their honeys. Bee World 66 (3): 105-112.
4. CRANE, E; WALKER, P; DAY, R (1984) Directory of important world honey sources. International Bee
Research Association London; 384 pp
5. GRADDON, A D; MORRISON, J D; SMITH, J F (1979) Volatile constituents of some unifloral Australian
honeys. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 27 (4): 832-837.
6. JIE, W; JILIAN, L; WENJUN, P; JIANKE, L (2006) Major honey plants and their utilisation in china part I of
two parts. American Bee Journal 146 (1): 59-64.
7. JOSHI, S R; PECHHACKER, H; WILLAM, A; VON DER OHE, W (2000) Physico-chemical characteristics
of Apis dorsata, A. cerana and A. mellifera honey from Chitwan district, central Nepal. Apidologie 31
(3): 367-375.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 41
8. MAKHLOUFI, C; SCHWEITZER, P; AZOUZI, B; PERSANO ODDO, L; CHOUKRI, A; HOCINE, L;
RICCIARDELLI D'ALBORE, G (2007) Some properties of Algerian honey. Apiacta 42: 73-80.
9. MALACALZA, N H; MOUTEIRA, M C; BALDI, B; LUPANO, C E (2007) Characterisation of honey from
different regions of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Journal of Apicultural Research 46 (1):
8-14.
10. MALACALZA, S H; CACCAVARI, M A; FAGUNDEZ, G; LUPANO, C E (2005) Unifloral honeys of the
province of Buenos aires, argentine. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 85 (8): 1389-
1396.
11. MOSSEL, B (2002) Antimicrobial and Quality Parameters of Australian Unifloral Honeys. University of
Queensland Australia; pp 1-328.
12. ODDO, L P; HEARD, T A; RODRIGUEZ-MALAVER, A; PEREZ, R A; FERNANDEZ-MUINO, M;
SANCHO, M T; SESTA, G; LUSCO, L; VIT, P (2008) Composition and Antioxidant Activity of
Trigona carbonaria Honey from Australia. Journal of Medicinal Food 11 (4): 789-794.
13. PERSANO ODDO, L; BOGDANOV, S (2004) Determination of honey botanical origin: problems and issues.
Apidologie 35: 2-3.
14. PERSANO ODDO, L; PIANA, L; BOGDANOV, S; BENTABOL, A; GOTSIU, P; KERKVLIET, J;
MARTIN, P; MORLOT, M; VALBUENA, A O; RUOFF, K; VON DER OHE, K (2004) Botanical
species giving unifloral honey in Europe. Apidologie 35 (special issue): 82-93.
15. PERSANO ODDO, L; PIRO, R (2004) Main European unifloral honeys: descriptive sheets. Apidologie 35
(special issue): S38-S81.
16. PIAZZA, M G; PERSANO ODDO, L (2004) Bibliographical review of the main European unifloral honeys.
Apidologie 35 (special issue): S94-S111.
17. SOUZA, B; ROUBIK, D; BARTH, O; HEARD, T; ENRIQUEZ, E; CARVALHO, C; VILLAS-BOAS, J;
MARCHINI, L; LOCATELLI, J; PERSANO-ODDO, L; ALMEIDA-MURADIAN, L;
BOGDANOV, S; VIT, P (2006) Composition of stingless bee honey: Setting quality standards.
Interciencia 31 (12): 867-875.
18. TERRAB, A; DIEZ, M J; HEREDIA, F J (2002) Characterisation of Moroccan unifloral honeys by their
physicochemical characteristics. Food Chemistry 79 (3): 373-379.
19. TERRAB, A; DEZ, M J; HEREDIA, F J (2003) Palynological, physico-chemical and colour characterization
of Moroccan honeys. II. Orange (Citrus sp.) honey
792. International Journal of Food Science & Technology 38 (4): 387-394.
20. TERRAB, A; DEZ, M J; HEREDIA, F J (2003) Palynological, physico-chemical and colour characterization
of Moroccan honeys: I. River red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh) honey
791. International Journal of Food Science & Technology 38 (4): 379-386.
21. TERRAB, A; DEZ, M J; HEREDIA, F J (2003) Palynological, physico-chemical and colour characterization
of Moroccan honeys: III. Other unifloral honey types
793. International Journal of Food Science & Technology 38 (4): 395-402.
22. VON DER OHE, W; PERSANO ODDO, L; PIANA, L; MORLOT, M; MARTIN, P (2004) Harmonized
methods of melissopalynology. Apidologie 35 (Special issue): S18-S25.




Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 42
Honey
Control and Trade


CONTROL STEPS
Honey control is carried on different levels. The beekeeper himself can perform a self control, following the
guidelines of good apicultural practice. Honey control according to the scheme given below will be carried
out by apiaries, honey companies and food control authorities. Laboratory control will include the
conformity to the standard. Trade honeys should conform to the Honey Standard of the Codex
Alimentarius

Characteristics, Parameter Control method Requirements, Remarks
Tests at producer site
Container direct observation Adequate material and condition
Homogeneity of lot

direct observation

Apparent homogeneity according to observable
characteristics in whole shipment
Impurities

Direct observations of
honey surface in
container, filtration
Absence of bee and wax particles, other
extranous matter

Organoleptic characteristics Organoleptic analysis on
an average sample
Absence of defects: off odours and tastes
abnormal crystallisation
Laboratory testing
Colour Pfund units with a
Lovibond grader
Correspondence to market requirements

Moisture content Refractometer
measurements
General: maximum 20 %
Top grade: < 18 %
Geographical authenticity Microscopic examination Correspondence to declared origin
Botanical authenticity Sensory, microsscopic
and chemical tests
Correspondance to limits, need of specialized
personel
Authenticity of production
Adulteration
Official methods Absence of adulterants,
Absence of fermentation
Contaminants Official methods According to legal limits
Heat damage

Test HMF, diastase HMF not more than 40 mg/kg
Diastase not less than 8 Schade units

SENSORY ANALYSIS
The honey consumer establishes the quality of honey with eye,
nose and mouth. Therefore, the sensory properties of honey
have a great importance. Sensory evaluation enables us to
distinguish the botanical origin of honey and to identify and
quantify certain defects (fermentation, impurities, off odours
and flavours). It also plays an important role in defining honey
products in the honey industry. There, honeys from different
origin are mixed in order that a honey with specific sensory
property be attained. The method for honey sensory analysis
have been introduced by Gonnet
16
. The modern methods for
honey sensory analysis were recently laid down
28
. Honey
should be assayed by a panel of a minimum of 7 trained assessors. However, in practice this number is
difficult to attain, but any number more than one is better than a single opinion! Here it will not be dealt in
detail with these methods, but the different principles of honey sensorics will be shortly discussed.


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 43
Honey colour is an important quality factor. In honey trade the honey price will be determined by the
colour, lighter honey achieving generally a better price. Honey colour is determined by Pfund or Lovibond
graders. The Lovibond graders are easier to handle. Presently, Lovibond graders with Pfund grading are
available on the market.











Honey aroma will be judged directly by smelling with the nose or indirectly in the mouth through the nose
channel. It is difficult to characterise the aroma with words. Mostly, associations are used. For instance:
Linden honey: menthol-like, pharmacy; fresh

The honey taste will be judged by evaluation after ingestion (see
tongue taste regions left). The three basic tastes sweet, sour and bitter
will be judged (salty is absent). All honeys are sweet, due to the
presence of the sugars fructose and glucose. However fructose is 2.5
times sweeter than glucose. Thus fructose rich honeys, e.g. acacia are
sweeter than glucose rich ones, e.g. rape. Also, the sweet taste will be
influenced by the acidity, by aromas and by the cristalisation. Bitter
honeys like linden and sweet chestnut seem less sweet than honeys
with weak taste like acacia. The sour taste depends on the acidity of
honey. If treatments of Varroa with organic acids are not carried
according to the prescriptions during the honey flow, they can
influence honey taste and make it more sour.
The bitter taste is characteristic for sweet chestnut and linden honeys, and is a special characteristics of the
worlds most bitter honey, harvested in Italy from Arbutus
14
.
The tactile properties of honey originate in the tactile sensation on lips and tongue. The tactile feeling
depends on honey granulation. Coarse and hard honeys feel pleasant, while fine crystalline and cream honeys
are felt as pleasant.
Sensory defects should be judged objectively. On the other hand, honey consumers tend to judge honey
according to their preferences.
Honey will absorb foreign odours if stored in the vicinity of strong aroma emitents and if stored in improper
vessels.
Sensory tests
Two methods are used. The first one is descriptive
16
. It is easy and can
be used for routine work. It requires an overall assessment, that takes
into consideration all the components perceived. With the profile
method honey is characterised in respect to reference standards of
aroma and taste
17, 28
. The sensory characterisation of the European
unifloral honeys was carried out by the descriptive method. This
method is also used in honey competitions and fairs. Such competitions
have a long tradition in countries like Germany, Italy, France and Spain.
The quality of honey will be judged according to sensory criteria and the
honeys will be then assigned to different quality classes. The assigned
quality predicates serve beekeepers as an advertisement for their honey
sales.





Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 44
MELISSOPALYNOLOGY
Pollen analysis of honey or mellisopolynology was
introduced at the beginning of the 20
th
century. The pollen
analysis method has been described by the International
Commission for Bee Botany
23
and improved recently
46
.
This method can be used for the microscopic determination
of the pollen grains, contained in honey. It is used for the
determination of the botanical and the geographical origin of
honey.
The determination of the botanical origin of honey is based
on the knowledge, that nectar contains a certain number of
pollen grains. Some nectars, e.g. Robinia and Citrus, contain less pollen grains, others, like
Castanea, have more pollen grains than average. This knowledge is considered while determining
the botanical origin of honey. Due to considerable variation also of other pollen grains
melissopalynology alone can not determine the botanical origin of honey. Honeydew honey contain
algae and fungi spores, but no relation between the number and the type of these components to the
origin of the honeydew could be determined.
For the determination of the determination of the geographical origin of honey the pollen contained
in honey are placed in relation to the geographical distribution of plants. With this method, greater
geographical regions can be determined.
Osmophilic yeast can also be detected with the same method, but they can not quntified. Honey
microscopy mirrors also the purity of the product. Too many extraneous starch, wax and bee
particles in the sediment point at improper honey production and can be a subject of objection due
to inpurities.

AUTHENTICITY TESTING
Adulteration by sweeteners


Adulteration by sweeteners is the most important authenticity issue. As a natural product of a relatively high
price, honey has been a target for adulteration for a long time. Addition of sweeteners, feeding the bees
during the nectar flow or extracting combs containing bee feed may adulterate of honey. The following
sweeteners have been detected in adulterated honeys: sugar syrups and molasses inverted by acids or
enzymes from corn, sugar cane, sugar beet and syrups of natural origin such as maple.
Many methods have been tested for adulteration proof but most of them are not capable to detect
unequivocally adulteration
5
. We discuss here only the most promising methods.
Adulteration by addition of cane- and corn sugar can be screened microscopically
21
and verified by
measuring the 13C/12C isotopic ratio
8, 35, 48, 49
. Recently this method has been further developed to include
Site-Specific Natural Isotopic Fractionation (SNIF) measured by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
10
. A recent
development is further the inclusion of sugar chromatography in this method
9, 12
, claiming, that the addition
of beet sugar can also be detected. The addition of high fructose corn syrup may be detected by detection of
oligosaccharides naturally not present in honey through capillary GC
24
Recently infrared spectroscopic
methods have been described for the detection of adulteration by adding beet and cane sugar to honey
18, 19, 43

These results were obtained by adding the adulterants to honey and comparing to the products with the

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 45
original product. In practice, this differentiation should be more difficult, due to the wide natural variation of
honey. Also, when the adulterants were fed to bees both infrared spectroscopy and front phase fluorimetry
were unable to detect 50 % honey adulteration
36
.
Fermentation
Harvesting of honey with high moisture content, or subsequent addition of water can result in honey
fermentation and spoilage. Honey spoilage can be first tested by a microscopic yeast count
1, 42
. This test on
its own does not yield conclusive results, as counted yeast could be in an inactive status not taking part in the
fermentation process. Determination of the fermentation products is more reliable (Beckh and Lllmann
1999) i.e. by determining the glycerol or ethanol content
2, 41, 50

Heat defects
The use of excessive heat in honey processing for liquefaction or pasteurisation has adverse effects on honey
quality, i.e. loss of volatile compounds, accumulation of HMF and reduction of invertase and diastase
activities. Quantification of HMF content and enzyme activities are useful tools to detect heat induced
defects in honey. However, it should be noted that improper storage of honey leads also to similar changes of
HMF and enzyme activity.
Honey filtration
Honey should not be strained with a mesh size smaller than 0.2 mm in order to prevent pollen removal. On
the other hand, the recently revised Codex Alimentarius Honey Standard (Codex Alimentarius Commission
2001) and EU Directive relating to honey (EU Council 2002) allow a removal of pollen if it is unavoidable
for the removal of foreign matter. Such honey should be labelled as filtered. Since microscopical pollen
analysis is still the most important tool for the determination of botanical and geographical origin of honey,
any removal of pollen by filtration will make authenticity routine testing much more difficult, if not
impossible.
Organic honey, raw or unheated honey
The production of organic honey implies organic beekeeping which is defined in European regulation EEC
No 2092/91, Annex I. The qualification of beekeeping products as being from organic origin depends on
environmental beekeeping issues, contaminants originating from the latter being by far more important
4
. A
recent examination of 250 pesticides in organic Swiss honeys confirmed this, as only traces of one pesticide
were found in 2 out of 33 samples
11
. Thus, only the detection of residues in honey from synthetic veterinary
drugs, not allowed in organic beekeeping can prove mislabelling of organic honey.
The term natural honey should be avoided. It is misleading, since honey is natural by definition. The terms
raw and unheated honey are also misleading, as honey is not heated during the harvest. Pasteurisation is not
mentioned in the Codex or European honey regulations. These regulations do not allow overheating of honey
such as to significantly impair its quality. Quick pasteurisation does not significantly influence the honey
quality and is often carried out in some countries. However, the labelling of honey pasteurisation is not
compulsory as in milk. On the other hand the pasteurisation of organic honey is not allowed.
Misdescription of botanical source



sensory microscopic physico-chemical testing

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 46
The botanical source may be labelled if the honey originates totally or mainly from a particular source and
has the organoleptic, physico-chemical and microscopic characteristics of that origin. As bees forage on
different plants, absolutely pure unifloral honeys are extremely rare. The different unifloral honeys show
typical sensory, melissopalynological and physico-chemical properties.
Pollen analysis is the classical method for the determination of the botanical
origin of honey
22, 46
. However, due to the considerable variation of the pollen content it is now regarded as a
side method, besides sensory and physico-chemical analysis. Recently the International Honey Commission
has worked out standards for the main European unifloral honeys, comprising sensory, melissopalonogical
and physico-chemical characteristics
27
.
In summary, the routine control of honey botanical origin includes organoleptic, physico-chemical and
pollen analysis and a decision to whether a honey is unifloral or not is based on a global interpretation of all
results
26
.
Another approach is the chemometrical evaluation of physico-chemical parameters (sugars, electrical
conductivity, optical rotation, nitrogen content etc.). The combination of these methods allows a good
separation of some unifloral honeys
3, 32, 44
. However, it should be noted than these methods may not allow
discrimination between unifloral and polyfloral honeys. Of all honey measurands analysis of the volatile and
aroma components is most promising
7
. Both quantitation and statistical evaluation of the volatile
components can be used, but the quantitation approach should be the more successful, as it is the more robust
one. Recently promising in-situ spectroscopic techniques, combined with statistical analysis have been
successfully used for the authentification of unifloral honey.: front phase fluorimetric spectroscopy
39
, near-
infrared
38
and mid-infrared spectroscopy
40
. Of all the mentioned techniques the mid-infrared technique is
the most promising, as it allows also the measurement of the principal honey parameters
37
.
Misdescription of geographical origin
Generally, in Western Europe and also in countries like the United States and Japan, honey imported from
the Far East or South America has a lower price than the locally produced honey, and is therefore prone to
mislabelling because of economic reasons.
Pollen analysis is at present mostly used to determine the geographical origin of honey. The possibilities of
pollen analysis for the determination of the geographical origin of honey have been reviewed recently
29
.
Indeed, the differences of the pollen spectrum between honeys from quite different geographical and climatic
zone are easy to detect. However, if the geographical zones are closer, differences are more difficult to
distinguish. In such cases more sophisticated melissopalynological methods should be used. In recent years
pollen analysis has been used for the determination of honeys originating from close geographical zones by
the use of special statistical software
13, 15
.
Recently the analysis of stable isotopes by IRMS has been developed for the authenticity proof of different
foods
20, 31
. These isotopes depend theoretically more on the climate and are added theoretically to honey
rather through rain water than through the honey plants. This method should be tested first on unifloral
honeys of different geographical origin in order to decide if it is useful for the determination of the
geographical origin of honey.
Misdescription of the entomological source
The present EU Directive definition defines honey as derived from Apis mellifera, while according to the
Codex standard honey is the product of all honey bees. This contradiction needs to be resolved. Apis
mellifera, originally indigenous to Africa and Europe, has been introduced into major exporting countries
such as China, where now only a small part of the honey is also produced from Apis cerana. At present Apis
mellifera honey is the main honey on the market and other honeys have only a local importance. For such
purposes it is now necessary to characterise the honey from species other than Apis mellifera so that the
honey from these species can be accepted in international trade. These honeys are either almost
indistinguishable from Apis mellifera honey (e.g. Apis cerana honey) or has compositional limits of its own
(Apis dorsata, stingless bees). The honeys of bees others than Apis mellifera should also be characterised
and included into a separate standard.
RESIDUE CONTROL
Residues have become recently a major consumer concern. A recent review on the subject shows that the
trace quantities of the residues in honey will pose in most cases cause no health risk
4
. This control activity
needs nowadays a very sophisticated instrumentation and can be performed only by specialized laboratories.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 47
It has become evident that residues of honey originate mostly not from the environnment but from improper
beekeeping practices
4
. Presently antibiotic residues are the major concern. Antibiotic residues can originate
from treatments against the brood diseases American Foul Brood (AFB) or European Foul Brood (EFB).
Treatments with antibiotics are not allowed in the EU, while in many other countries they are widely used.
Thus, in most EU countries there are no MRL levels for antibiotics, which means that honey containing
antibiotic residues are not permitted to be sold. As no residues are permitted, no MRL are established.
The residues of the antibiotics, encountered in honey are not very problematic from toxicological point of
view, as MRL for many of them are common in many foods of animal origin. At present, the problem with
antibiotics in honey is the most serious for honey trade. However, the use of antibiotics for the control of
AFB is not necessary and cannot control this pest. Antibiotic residues can be avoided, as AFB can be
successfully controlled without the use of antibiotics
45, 47
. Indeed, the experience in different EU countries
and New Zealand shows that a long-term efficient AFB control can be carried out without the use of
antibiotics.

Contamination Sources for Honey


The review of the subject has shown that the contamination of honey originates less from
environmental and more from the beekeeping practice
4



Production of honey without residues by Good Apicultural Practice

Contaminant
bee product concerned
Source of Contamination Control measure
Antibiotics in honey Control of bacterial diseases with
antibiotics (AFB, EFB, Nosema)
Alternative control without the use of
antibiotics
Synthetic acaricides in beeswax,
propolis and honey
Varroa control with synthetic
acaricides
Alternative Varroa control without
synthetic acaricides
Pesticides in honey and beeswax Control of wax moth with pesticides
Chemical control of the Small Hive
Beetle (SHB)
Wax moth control by alternative
measures.
Alternative control of the SHB
Repellants in honey Use of synthetic repellents at the
honey harvest
Use of water or smoke
Toxic metals or organic substances Honey recipients Use recipients which do not diffuse
contaminants into honey.
Wood protectants in honey Pesticides in wood protectants Use of wood protectants containing no
pesticides

Plants
Air, Water
Environment
Pesticides
Heavy metals
Bacteria
GMO
Radioactivity
Beekeeping
Acaricides for Varroa control
Antibiotics against AFB, EFB
Pesticides for wax moth control
Pesticides against SHB
Bee repellents at honey harvest

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 48
The above table summarises the measures, that can be taken by the beekeepers to insure a minimal
contamination of honey. Production of honey according to Good Apicultural Practice, without the use of
toxic chemicals is a guarantee for a good, nature-pure honey. Organic beekeeping is the best alternative to
produce residue free honey.

Further reading:
Sensory testing:
16, 28, 30
.
Melissopaynology:
25, 33, 34

Routine chemical and residue testing:
4, 6
.
WORLD HONEY PRODUCTION
Today, honey is one of the last untreated natural foods. At present the annual world honey
production is estimated at about 1.4 million tons (FAO, 2005) which is less than 1% of the total
sugar production.
www.apiservices.com provides data until 2001, which has been compiled by
www.apicultura.com/malka considering the available national production figures. Later data on different
countries is provided the Commodity Research Buro, 2005.

Table 1: World production of honey after www.apiservices.com, downloaded in August 2009, data
in thousand tons
Continent 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Africa 117 129 131 138 142 140 139 141 144 145
North and Central America 216 223 195 183 174 189 218 201 208 205
South America 87 95 97 105 100 109 109 133 141 131
Asia 328 326 354 365 362 402 401 435 457 465
Europe 182 181 291 319 278 281 291 293 286 288
Oceania 29 30 38 27 35 36 31 29 29 29
total 958 984 1103 1137 1091 1156 1188 1232 1265 1263

Table 2: Production of honey of major producing countries
data after FAOSTAT, in thousand tons
Countries & Years 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2009
China 267 295 298 299 305 303 407
Argentina 83 75 80 110 84 81 62
Turkey 75 70 74 82 80 74 82
Ukraine 51 54 58 71 76 68 74
USA 78 82 83 73 70 67 66
Mexico 59 57 57 50 56 54 56
Russian Federation 49 48 53 52 55 55 54
India 52 52 52 52 52 52 55
Ethiopia 40 38 41 36 44 44 41
Iran 28 28 28 28 36 36 46
Brazil 24 30 32 34 36 35 38
Canada 37 34 34 36 48 31 31
Spain 36 35 37 27 31 31 32
Tanzania 27 27 27 27 27 27 33
Kenya 22 22 22 22 25 25 25


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 49
Table 3: Honey relevant data in selected countries
Country
Prod
t/year
Export
t/year
Import
t/year
Cons.
t/year
Cons
kg p
cap
Bee-
keepers
Col.
p beek
Col.
p. km
2
harvest
Kg/col
China 254000 103000 - 151000 0.1 600000 12 0.7 50
USA 84000 5000 79000 185000 0.6 125000 24 0.3 30
Argentina 80000 88000 - 2000 < 0.1 18000 106 0.7 37
Turkey 60000 18000 - 42000 0.7 150000 29 5.5
Mexico 59000 31000 - 28000 0.3 45000 44 1.0 25
Ukraine 60000 15000 - 45000 0.8 50000 60 5 15
India 52000 3000 - 49000 < 0.1 150000 4 0.2 8.5
Spain 32000 9500 7500 30000 0.8 25000 72 3.6 18
Germany 35000 13000 105000 127000 1.5 89000 10 2.4 40
Canada 32000 15000 3000 20000 0.7 13000 38 0.05 66
France 30000 3000 8000 35000 0.6 84000 16 2.5 22
Greece 33000 18000 3000 18000 1.8 23500 54 9.7 26
Australia 19000 11000 34 8000 0.4 6300 107 0.1 39
Brazil 20000 n i n i 20000 0.1 300000 8 0.3 15
Egypt 20000 5000 - 15000 0.2 20000 100 0.2 10
Hungary 24000 15000 100 8900 0.9 16000 38 6.5 40
Israel 5400 160 210 5450 0.9 480 177 4.1 64
Japan 3000 - 40000 43000 0.3 7235 31 0.6 15
UK 3'000 - 20000 23000 0.4 43900 6 1.0 11
Min. 3000 0 0 5450 < 0.1 480 6 0.05 8.5
Max. 25600 103000 105000 185000 1.8 600000 177 9.7 66
Production data 2001 from table 2, other data are from other sources indicated in
www.apiservices.com , n.i. not indicated; - : zero,

World honey production by country in 2008, according to Faostat,
http://faostat.fao.org/site/339/default.aspx

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 50
Honey production, export and import
China is the leader in honey production and honey export, followed closely by Argentina, but they both have
a very small consumption per capita with about 0.1 kg.
Germany is the biggest honey importing country, importing 3 times more than it is producing. However
Germany re-exports a part of the imported honey. Big honey importers are the USA and Japan. Japan is
importing the 10 fold of the quantity it produces.
Most West European countries and also the USA have a low degree of honey self sufficiency and have to
import most of their honeys. In Europe from the mentioned countries only Greece and Hungary have a high
self sufficiency and are net exporters of honey. The important honey export countries like Argentina, China,
Mexico and Australia have all a high degree of self sufficiency, but their consumption per capita is very low.
Annual consumption per capita
Developing countries as China, Argentina, India, Brazil and Egypt consume t 0.1 to 0.2 kg per capita. Rich
developed countries consume generally higher amounts. However the per capita consumption does not
follow the richness of the countries, but there are also cultural influences. In the European Union, the biggest
honey consumer is Greece with 1.8 kg, followed by Germany with 1.5 kg, other EU countries like Italy,
Spain, France and Hungary are in the intermediate range with 0.6-0.9 kg, while the UK is on the lowest end
with 0.4 kg.
Colonies per beekeepers
This number gives some information on how professional the beekeeping is. Low numbers means that the
majority of the beekeepers are hobbyists. In the European Union there are remarkable differences: In the
UK, Italy and France they numbers vary from 8 to 16, while in Hungary, Greece and Spain they are
considerably higher, varying from 38 to 72. The highest numbers are in Israel, meaning that the percentage
of the more professional beekeepers is the highest. It is astonishing that the biggest honey exporter China
has mostly small beekeepers with an average of 12 colonies per beekeepers, while the second honey exporter
Argentina has much more big scope beekeepers with 106 colonies per beekeeper. On the lowest end are
India, UK and Brazil, on the highest: Israel, Argentina, Australia and Egypt.
Bee density
Highest is in Greece, 9.7 colonies/km2,
Lowest, in Canada, 0.05 colonies/km2 .
Countries with the high bee densities (Greece, Portugal, Hungary) have similar per colony
yields as countries with the low bee density (Canada, USA, China). This means that there
are enough honey sources even in countries with very high bee densities. On average,
European countries have a higher bee density than overseas countries.
Honey yield per colony
The highest honey yields are reported in Israel with an average of 64 kg per colony. Israel has also the
highest number of professional beekeepers. Under conditions of a warm climate during the whole year
several honey crops are possible. Countries with high honey yields with 40 and more kg per colony are:
China, Germany, and Canada. On the lowest end are India, UK and Egypt with 8.5 to 11 kg per colony.


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 51


In many countries most of the honey is sold directly from the beekeeper.
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Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 54
Honey
as Nutrient and Functional Food


Stefan Bogdanov

INTRODUCTION
As the only available sweetener honey was an important food for Homo sapiens since his very beginnings.
Indeed, the relation between bees and Homo sapiens started as early as stone age
84
. In order to reach the
sweet honey, man was ready to risk his life (Figure 1). Already the first written reference to honey, a
Sumerian tablet writing, dating back to 2100-2000 BC, mentions honeys use as a drug and an ointment
83
.
In most ancient cultures honey has been used for both nutritional purposes and for medicine
26, 83, 85, 150
.
According to the bible, the wise Solomon has said: Eat honey my son, because it is good (Old Testament,
proverb 24:13). The belief, that honey is a nutrient, drug and an ointment has been carried into our days. For
a long time in human history it was the only known sweetener, until industrial sugar production began to
replace it after 1800
83
. In the long human history honey has been not only as a nutrient but also as a
medicine
150
. A medicine branch, called apitherapy, has developed in recent years, offering treatments for
many diseases by honey and the other bee products (see Chapter 7).
At present the annual world honey production is about 1.2 million tons, which is less than 1% of the total
sugar production. Today, honey is one of the last untreated natural foods. The consumption of honey differs
strongly from country to country. In the major honey producing and exporting countries China and
Argentina the annual consumption is small: 0.1 to 0.2 kg per capita. It is higher in developed countries,
where the home production does not always cover the market needs. In the European Union, which is both a
major honey importer and producer, the annual consumption per capita varies from medium (0.3-0.4 kg) in
Italy, France, Great Britain, Denmark, Portugal to high (1-1.8 kg) in Germany, Austria, Switzerland,
Portugal, Hungary, Greece, while in overseas countries such as USA, Canada and Australia the average per
capita consumption is 0.6 to 0.8 kg/year (see Honey Chapter on this homepage)
Different surveys on nutritional and health aspects of honey have been compiled
17, 27, 31, 133, 136, 205, 210

COMPOSITION AND NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Carbohydrates
Main sugars are the monosaccharides fructose and glucose. Beyond the two monosaccharides, about 25
different oligosacharides have been detected, between them nutrition relevant ones such as panose, 1-
kestose, 6-kestose, palatinose
95, 259
. The principal oligosaccharides in blossom honey are the disaccharides
sucrose, maltose, trehalose and turanose. Honeydew honey compared to blossom honey contains higher
amounts of oligosaccharides, and also trisaccharides such as melezitose and raffinose. During digestion the
principal carbohydrates fructose and glucose are quickly transported into the blood and can be utilized for
energy requirements of the human body. A daily dose of 20 g honey will cover about 3% of the required
daily energy
Proteins, enzymes and amino acids
Honey contains about 0.5% proteins, mainly enzymes and amino acids. Its contribution to human protein
intake is marginal with respect to quantity (Table 2).
Three main honey enzymes are diastase (amylase), decomposing starch or glycogen into smaller sugar units,
invertase (sucrase, glucosidase), decomposing sucrose into fructose and glucose, as well as glucose oxidase,
producing hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid from glucose. Since the saliva yields a sufficiently high

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 55
activity of amylase and glucose oxidase, honeys contribution to sugar digestion is of minor importance.
Honey glucose oxidase producing hydrogen peroxide, might exert an antibacterial effect in the oral cavity.
Table 1. A. Main honey nutrients, after
58
: B Vitamins in honey, according to
58, 79, 80, 93


Ingredient Amount

Recommended Daily Intake
1
in 100 g 1-4
years old
4-15
years old
After 15
years old
Carbohydrates kcal 300 1000-
1100
1400-2700 2400-3100
Proteins g 0.5 13-14 17-46 44-59
Fats g 0 - - -

Minerals mg
Sodium (Na) 1.6-17 300 410-550 550
Calcium (Ca) 3-31 600 700-1200 1000-1200
Potassium (K) 40-3500 1000 1400-1900 2000
Magnesium (Mg) 0.7-13 80 120-310 300-400
Phosphorus (P) 2-15 500 600-1250 700-1250
Zinc (Zn) 0.05-2 3 5-9.5 7-10
Copper (Cu) 0.02-0.6 0.5-1 0.5-1 0.5-1
Iron (Fe) 0.03-4 8 8-15 10-15
Manganese (Mn) 0.02-2 1-1.5 1.5-5 2-5
Chromium (Cr) 0.01-0.3 0.02-0.06 0.02-0.1 0.03-1.5
Selenium (Se) 0.002-0.01 0.001-
0.004
0.001-0.006 0.003-0.007
Vitamins mg/kg
Phyllochinon (K) ca. 0.025 15 20-50 60-70
Thiamin (B
1
) 0.02-0.9 0.6 0.8-1.4 1-1.3
Riboflavin (B
2
) 0.01-0.9 0.7 0.9-1.6 1.2-1.5
Niacin
2
(B
3
) 0.10-2.7 (170-355)* 7 10-18 13-17
Panthothenic acid (B
5
) 0.02-1.9 4 4-6 6
Pyridoxin (B
6
) 0.01-0.32 0.4 0.5-1.4 1.2-1.6
Folic acid (B
9
) 0.01-0.7 0.2 0.3 0.4
Ascorbic acid (C) 0.1-2.5 (52-62)* 60 70-100 100
2
Niacin equivalents: 1 mg nicotinamide = 1 mg niacin = 60 mg tryptophan ( = niacin-precursor), *- according to Chua
et al.
79
for Malaysian honey
Table 2 Other trace elements in honey, after
58

Element mg/100 g Element mg/100 g
Aluminium (Al) 0.01-2.4 Lead (Pb)* 0.001-0.03
Arsen (As) 0.014-0.026 Lithium (Li) 0.225-1.56
Barium (Ba) 0.01-0.08 Molybdenum (Mo) 0-0.004
Boron (B) 0.05-0.3 Nickel (Ni) 0-0.051
Bromine (Br) 0.4-1.3 Rubidium (Rb) 0.040-3.5
Cadmium (Cd)* 0-0.001 Silicium (Si) 0.05-24
Chlorine (Cl) 0.4-56 Strontium (Sr) 0.04-0.35
Cobalt (Co) 0.1-0.35 Sulfur (S) 0.7-26
Floride (F) 0.4-1.34 Vanadium (V) 0-0.013
Iodine (I) 10-100 Zirkonium (Zr) 0.05-0.08
*- elements regarded as toxic, can be partially of anthropological origin

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 56
Vitamins, minerals and trace compounds
The amount of vitamins and minerals is small and the contribution of honey to the recommended daily
intake (RDI) of the different trace substances is marginal (Table 2). It must be born in mind that different
unifloral honeys contain different amounts of minerals
42
. A possible exception is the high content, measured
in Malaysian honey
79
.
Honey contains a number of other trace elements. From the nutritional point of view the minerals chrome,
manganese and selenium are of nutritional importance, especially for children of the age of 1 to 15 year. The
elements sulphur, boron, cobalt, fluorine, iodine, molybdenum and silicon can be important in human
nutrition too, although there are no RDI values proposed for these elements (Table 2).
Honey contains 0.3-25 mg/kg choline and 0.06 to 5 mg/kg acetylcholine
136
. Choline is an essential for
cardiovascular and brain function, and for cellular membrane composition and repair, while acetylcholine
acts as a neurotransmitter.
Aroma compounds, taste-building compounds and polyphenols
There is a wide variety of honeys with different tastes and colours, depending on their botanical origin
86
.
The sugars are the main taste-building compounds. Generally, honey with high fructose content (e.g. acacia)
are sweet compared to those with high glucose concentration (e.g. rape). Beyond sugars the honey aroma
depends on the quantity and quality of honey acids and amino acids. In the past decades some research on
honey aroma compounds has been carried out and more than 500 different volatile compounds have been
identified in different types of honey. Indeed, most aroma building compounds vary in the different types of
honey depending on its botanical origin
59
. Honey flavour is an important quality for its application in food
industry and also a selection criterion for consumers choice.
Polyphenols are another important group of compounds with respect to appearance and functional
properties. 56 to 500 mg/kg total polyphenols were found in different honey types, depending on the honey
type
16, 128
. Polyphenols in honey are mainly flavonoids (e.g. quercetin, luteolin, kaempferol, apigenin,
chrysin, galangin), phenolic acids and phenolic acid derivatives
272
. The flavonoid content can vary between
2 and 46 mg/kg of honey and was higher in samples produced during dry season with high temperatures
156
.
The polyphenols are responsible for the antioxidant properties of honey.
ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
The physiological action of gel and powdered forms of honey as a
carbohydrate source for athlete performance, mainly cycling one,
was studied recently under controlled conditions by Kreider and
coworkers
102, 104, 163-165, 167
. Honey increases significantly the heart
frequency and the blood glucose level during performance
168
. It did
not promote physical or psychological signs of hypoglycemia in
fasted subjects
165, 181
, during resistance training
102
or following
resistance training
102, 103
. In another trial the effect of low and high
glycemic index carbohydrate gels and honey were tested on 64 km
cycling performance
104, 168
. Both high (glucose) and low GI
(honey) gels increased cycling performance, honey being slightly better than glucose. The carbohydrate
profile and GI response of honey was identical to that of a popular sports gel
165, 242
. According to these
authors honey is well tolerated and can be an effective carbohydrate source for athletic performance.
Summarising the research on honey and sport nutrition it is recommended that the amount of honey should
be adapted to the body weight and to the ingestion time before exercise
163
:
4 hours before exercise: ingest 4 g per kg body weight
1 hour before exercise: ingest 1 gram per kg body weight
10 minutes before exercise: ingest 0.5 g per kg body weight
During exercises 30 to 60 g can be ingested during each hour of exercise.
After physical exercise or competition carbohydrates should be supplemented by protein for optimal
recovery. Dry honey, combined with whey protein was found to be more effective than protein combinations
with glucose or maltodextrin
163
. For optimal recovery athletes should consume about 1 g honey per kg body
weight within 15 minutes and repeat this procedure for the next 4 to 6 hours. Combining of honey with

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 57
protein (3:1) may help to inhibit protein catabolism after the exercise
163
. The results by Kreider and co-
workers
102, 104, 163-166
should be confirmed by other researchers.
GLYCEMIC INDEX, GLUCOSE AND FRUCTOSE
Glycemic index, diabetes and the human diet
Glycemic index
The impact of carbohydrates on human health is discussed controversially especially the understanding of
how the carbohydrate content of a given food affects blood glucose levels. Today, the dietary significance of
carbohydrates is often indicated in terms of the glycemic index (GI). Carbohydrates having a low GI induce
a small increase of glucose in blood, while those with high GI induce a high blood glucose level. Fructose,
besides glucose the main honey sugar, has a GI of 19, sucrose: 68. Theoretically high-fructose honeys like
acacia, tupelo, chestnut, thyme, calluna should have a relatively lower GI. The only comprehensive data on
honey GI is the one presented in table 3. It is based mainly on data of different Australian honeys
35, 121
.
There was a significant negative correlation between fructose content and GI is probably due to the diverse
fructose/glucose ratios of the various honey types testes. It is known that unifloral honeys have varying
fructose content
121, 231
. Indeed, there is a significant negative correlation between honey GI and fructose
concentration (Arcot & Brand-Miller, 2005). Some honeys, e.g. acacia and yellow box, with relatively high
concentration of fructose, have a lower GI than other honey types (Table 3). A negative correlation between
GI and fructose was established, while there was no significant correlation between GI and the other honey
sugars. In a study with four North American honeys with different fructose content the resulting GI values
were higher than those of the Australian study and varied between 69 and 74
145
. In another US investigation
the GI of a honey of an unidentified botanical origin was found to be 35
165
. Recently a study with German
honeys revealed GI values lying between 49 and 89
46, 92
. In these studies acacia, chestnut, linden and
heather honey had GI between 49 and 55. A rape honey had a GI of 64 while a honeydew honey had the
highest GI with 89, which was due to its high melezitose content.
In experiments with humans Ahmad et al showed that the honey induced glucose rise in blood is less
pronounced that that after intake of artificial honey control and glucose
7
.
The effect of ingestion of a 75 g sugar solution containing linden honey or fructose/glucose control on serum
insulin and C-peptide values of healthy humans was examined. These parameters were significantly lower
for honey. The mean serum glucose concentration was also lower for honey, but direct comparisons at the
various times showed no significant differences between the honey and the control. However, the area under
the concentration-time profile for glucose response was lower for the honey than the control
220

The GI concept claims to predict the role of carbohydrates in the development of obesity
186
, meaning that
low GI honeys could be a valuable alternative to high GI sweeteners. In order to take into consideration the
quantity of ingested food, a new term, the glycemic load, is introduced. It is calculated as the glycemic index
multiplied with the carbohydrate content in a given portion, divided by 100. Values lower than 10 are
considered low, 10 to 20 are intermediate ones and above 20 belong to the category high. For an assumed
honey portion of 25 g the glycemic load of most honeys is low and some are in the intermediate range
(Table 3).
Diabetes
The GI concept was developed to provide a numeric classification of carbohydrate foods on the assumption
that such data would be useful in situations in which glucose tolerance is impaired. Therefore food with low
GI should provide benefits with respect to diabetes and to the reduction of coronary heart disease
149
. Thus,
consumption of honeys with a low GI, e.g. acacia honey might have beneficial physiological effects and
could be used by diabetes 2 patients.
Diabetes 2 type
This diabetes type is not dependent on insulin. Honey was well tolerated by patients with diabetes of
unspecified type
41
and on diabetes type-2 patients
61, 155, 248
. According to a recent study, long term
consumption of food with a high GI is a significant risk factor for type-2 diabetes
184
, while relatively high
amounts from 70 to 90 g honey were administered without any problems for the type 2 diabetes
6, 20
, or even
had favourable effects on such patients
20
.


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 58
Diabetes type 1
Diabetes type 2 depends on insulin and is an autoimmune disease. Honey seems to be also well tolerated by
type 1 diabetes patients. Honey caused a higher c-peptide increase than comparable amounts of sucrose or
glucose
3
. The c-peptide is a mass of the insulin increase in blood.
It has been also hypothesised that fructose might contribute to the positive effect of honey on diabetis
109
.
Also, it was shown that honey (Gelam honey from Malaysia) induced differential expression of MAPK, NF-
kappa B, IRS-1 (ser307), and Akt in HIT-T15 cells and exerts protective effects against diabetes-and
hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress by improving insulin content and insulin resistance
40
.
On the other hand it was found that linden honey caused lower c-peptide increase than comparable amounts
of a fructose/glucose mixture
220
. The contradiction between the two studies should be resolved.
Table 3. Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) for a serving (25 g) of honey, after
35, 121


honey origin Fructose
g /100 g
GI AC
g/serving
GL (per
serving)
Acacia (black lockust)* Romania 43 32 21 7
Yellow box Australia 46 354 18 6
Stringy bark Australia 52 444 21 9
Red gum Australia 35 463 18 8
Iron bark Australia 34 483 15 7
Yapunya Australia 42 525 17 9
Pure Australia Australia 586 21 12
Commercial blend Australia 38 623 18 11
Salvation June Australia 32 645 15 10
Commercial blend Australia 28 726 13 9
Honey of unspecified origin Canada 878 21 18
average 55 555 18 10
Glucose 100
Fructose 19
AC = available carbohydrate
Fructose and obesity
Fructose is the main sugar in most honeys (Table 1). An over-consumption of fructose in todays American
diet, mainly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, is suspected to be one of the main causes for
overweight problems
107
. After reviewing clinical studies these authors found that fructose ingestion leads to
a rise of de-novo lipogenesis, which finally has an unfavourable effect on energy regulation and on body
weight.
In rat feeding experiments the hypertriglyceridemic effect observed after intake of fructose alone does not
take place after feeding of honey fructose. Compared to rats fed with fructose, honey-fed rats had higher
plasma -tocopherol levels, higher -tocopherol/triacylglycerol ratios, lower plasma NO
x
concentrations
and a lower susceptibility of the heart to lipid peroxidation. These data suggest a potential nutritional benefit
of substituting fructose by honey in the ingested diets
70
.
It was shown that in patients with hypertriglyceridemia, artificial honey increased TG, while honey
decreased TG
13
. Recently it was found out that feeding rats by 10 % honey solution decreased the weight of
the rats by decreasing their feeding frequency
51
.
Feeding of honey or sugar to Wistar rats resulted both in increase of weight in comparison to controls.
Sucrose fed fat cells were significantly larger than the honey fed ones.
244

Honey ingestion by humans leads to a rise of blood fructose concentration: in one case (rape honey), this
rise was lower than that achieved after fructose/glucose controls, in the other cases it was same as after the
controls (acacia honey). Fructose metabolism may be inhibited by unidentified substances present in the
rapeseed honey
219

Summarising the above research, honey has probably no or a weak effect on obesity compared to pure
fructose. However, there is need of further tests with human nutrition studies, carried with a variety of
unifloral honeys.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 59
INFANT NUTRITION
The application of honey in infant nutrition used to be a common recommendation during
the last centuries and there are some interesting observations reported. Infants on a diet
containing honey had better blood building and a higher weight increase compared to a diet
without honey
123
. Honey was better tolerated by babies than sucrose
216
and compared to a
water based placebo significantly reduced crying phases of infants
240
. Infants have a higher
weight increase when fed by honey than by sucrose, and showed less throw up than the
sucrose controls
212
. Compared to sucrose, ingestion of honey by infants resulted in an
increase of haemoglobin content, better skin colour while no digestion problems were
encountered
264, 273
. Infants exposed to a honey regimen had a better weight increase and during the regimen
were less susceptible to diseases than infants fed normally or infants given blood building agents
123
.
The positive effects of honey in infant diet are attributed to effects on the digestion process. One possible
cause is the well established effect of oligosaccharides on B. bifidus
243
. When fed on a mixture of honey and
milk infants showed a regularly steady weight gain and had an acidophilic microorganism flora rich in B.
bifidus
139
. In an other experiment with honey and milk it was shown that the infants were suffering less
frequently from diarrhoea, and their blood contained more haemoglobin compared to a diet based on sucrose
sweetened milk
264
. Feeding honey to infants improved calcium uptake into the blood, resulting in lighter and
thinner faeces
48
.
There is a health concern for infants regarding the presence of Clostridium botulinum in honey. Since the
presence of this bacterium in natural foods is ubiquitous and honey is a non sterilized packaged food from
natural origin the risk of a low contamination cannot be excluded. Spores of this bacterium can survive in
honey, but they cannot build toxin. But in the stomach of infants younger than one year the bacteria spores
from honey can survive, grow, and theoretically build the toxin. On the other hand humans older than 12
months can ingest honey without any risk. In some cases, infant botulism has been explained by ingestion of
honey
82, 199, 217, 266
. In Germany about one case of infant botulism per year is reported
217
. As a result of the
reported infant botulism cases some honey packers (e.g. the British Honey Importers and Packers
Association) place a warning on the honey label that honey should not be given to infants under 12 months
of age. Recently, a scientific committee of the EU has examined the hazard of Cl. botulinum in honey. It
has concluded, that no microbiological examinations of honey are necessary, as the incidence of Cl.
botulinum is relatively low and tests will not prevent infant botulism. In the EU countries the health
authorities have not issued a warning label on honey pots. Also, the counter-indication of honey in
nourishing of infants in developing countries has been questioned
115
.
For safety reasons honey should be given only to infants older than 1 year
FUNCTIONAL PROPERTIES
The functional properties of honey are tested in animals and cell cultures. They are discussed in detail in
separate sections and are summerised in the following table:

Effect Tested honey type
Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral Different honey types
Antioxidant and hepatoprotective Different honey types
Anti-inflammatory Different honey types
Anticancerogenic and antimutagenic Different honey types
Radioprotective Tualang and Gelam honey
Immunoactivating and immunosuppressive Different honeys, often unspecified
Antiatherogenic Different honeys, often unspecified
Probiotic and prebeiotic Different honey types
Antinociceptive Different honey types
Anti-neurogenerative Different honey types
Anti-osteporosis Tualang and honey of a unspecified floral origin
Improves the renal funciont Honey of a unspecified floral origin
Improves the spatial memory of rats Honeydew honey
Anxiolytic, antinociceptive, anticonvulsant and
antidepressant
Different Nigerian honey of specified floral origin
Improves the fertility of rats Tualang, Malaysia and Palestine honey


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 60
ANTIMICROBIAL PROPERTIES
The antimicrobial action of honey has been extensively reviewed in 1992 by Molan
207, 208
and in 2011 by Al-
Waili et al.
14
. It has both a direct and an indirect action.
Indirect antimicrobial action
Honey can fight microbial infection by its immuno-activating, anti-inflammatory and prebiotic
activity.
Direct antimicrobial action

Honey inhibits the growth of microorganisms and fungi. The antibacterial
effect of honey, mostly against gram-positive bacteria, is very well
documented
54, 206, 207, 209
. Both bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects have
been reported, against many strains, many of which are pathogenic (Table
5).

In 1937 Dold et al. determined the antibacterial acivity as inhibine. The antibacterial assay carried out with
Staph. aureus was senstitive to hydrogen peroxide. Researchers using this method found a good correlation
between the capacity of honey to produce peroxide and the inhibine value. Honey glucose oxidase produces
the antibacterial agent hydrogen peroxide
289
, while another enzyme, catalase breaks it down
98
. Honey with
a high catalase activity have a low antibacterial peroxide activity
70, 71
. White established a good correlation
between the peroxide accumulation capacity and the antibacterial activity expressed as inhibine
100, 288
. Lavie
was the first to postulate the existence of other antibacterial substances in honey
174
.
Table 4 Infections caused by bacteria that have found to be sensitive to honey
206, 209

Pathogen INFECTION CAUSED
Bacillus anthracis anthrax
Corynebacterium diphtheriae diphtheria
Escherichia coli diarrhoea, septicaemia, urinary infections,
wound infections
Haemophilus influenzae ear infections, meningitus, respiratory
infections, sinusitis
Klebsiella pneumoniae pneumonia
Mycobacterium tuberculosis tuberculosis
Proteus sp. septicaemia, urinary infections
Pseudomonas aeruginosa urinary infections, wound infections
Salmonella sp. diarrhoea
Salmonella cholerae-suis septicaemia
Salmonella typhi typhoid
Salmonella typhimurium wound infections
Serrata marcescens septicaemia, wound infections
Shigella sp. dysentery
Staphylococcus aureus abscesses., boils, carbuncles, impetigo, wound
infections
Streptococcus faecalis urinary infections
Streptococcus mutans dental carries
Streptococcus pneumoniae ear infections, meningitis, pneumonia, sinusitis
Streptococcus pyogenes ear infections, impetigo, puerperal fever,
rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, sore throat,
wound infections
Vibrio choleriae cholera
Actin. pyogenes, Kleb. Pneum., Noc. asteroids, Staph. aureus,
Streptoc. agal., dysgal.,
mastitis

Epiderm floccosum, Microsp. canis, M.. gypseum, Trichoph.
rubrum, T. tonsurans, T. mentagr. var.
tinea

E coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio, Hel. pylori peptic ulcer


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 61
Different antibacterials increase the efficiency of action and reduce the chances for bacterial
resistence

It was reported that depending on the antibacterial test it is possible to differentiate between the peroxide
and non peroxide antibacterial action. Using this test different types of antibacterial substances have been
determined, the chemical identity of which remains to be determined. The substances have different
chemical characteristics: acidic, basic or neutral and that the main non-peroxide antibacterial activity is
acidic
54
.
Studies with Malaysian Tualang honey showed also, that the main non-peroxide antibacterial activity is
acidic
158
. Interestingly, honey acts best against bacteria in acedic medium. This is important from therapeutic
point of view as the wound medium is also acidic
19

Truchado et al, using another antibacterial test measured also mainly non-peroxide antibacterial activity
275
.
Thus, depending on the antibacterial test different types of antibacterial activity can be determined.
Summarising, antimicrobial effect of honey is due to different substances and depends on the botanical
origin of honey
54, 206, 207, 209
. There are non-peroxide antibacterial substances with different chemical origin,
e.g. and compounds with different chemical properties:
1. Phenolics and flavonoids, present in honey are also likely candidates, as many of them have been shown
to have antibacterial activity
24, 87, 113, 190, 214, 285
, but there was no correlation between honey phenolics and
antibacterial action
275
. In a study with Cuban unifloral honeys honeys with higher phenolic content tended to
have a higher antibacterial activity
29

2. The high sugar concentration of honey
218
, and also the low honey pH
294
can be responsible for the
antibacterial activity.
3. Undetermined components of the water and methanolic extract of chestnut honey inhibit pathogenic
bacteria like Erwinia carotovora, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Aeromonas hydrophila interfering in the
quorum signal (QS) system of bacteria. The bacterial QS system is thought to determine the virulence of
bacteria. The substances are thought to belong to the carbohydrate fraction of honey
274
.
4. Carbohydrate break-down Maillard products, present in Canadian honey
67, 69
and probably also in any
honey, have an antibacterial activity. These substances are also present in fresh honey.
5. Antibacterial aromatic acids
246
and 10-HDA, the main royal jelly acid with antibacterial properties
146

have also been found in honey.
6. An antibacterial honey protein as defensin-1, which originates in royal jelly, was also found in honey
171
.
7. Honey bacteria produce antibiotic-like antifungal peptide compounds, e.g. bacillomycin F
177, 178

8. The strong antibacterial activity of Manuka honey is due to the presence of the antibacterial substance
methylglyoxal
196
.
9. Lysozyme
179

Summarising, following antibacterial factors are responsible for the antibacterial action
Osmotic effect of sugars
pH and honey acids
Hydrogen peroxide
Others: phenolics, carbohydrates, Maillard products, proteins, antibiotic-like peptides
methylglyoxal, and other non-determined substances

Contrary to the non-peroxide activity, the peroxide one can be destroyed by heat, by light and by storage
54

(Table 6). The antibacterial activity of light blossom honey was more influenced by these different factors
that of the dark honeydew honey. Thus, for optimum antibacterial activity, honey should be stored in a cool,
dark place and should be consumed when fresh.
Some of the antimicrobial activity originates from the bees (the peroxide producing enzymes, the honey
acids, carbohydrates, defensin-1, antibiotic-like compounds) while some of it originate of it from the plants
(methylglyoxal, polyphenols) while a third part might be created during honey storage (Maillard products).

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 62
Influence of heat and storage
Table 5. Influence of heat, light and storage on the antibacterial activity of honey against Staph. aureus
after
53, 56

Non-peroxide activity Peroxide activity
Storage: 15 months at rt light dark light dark
Blossom honey 76 86 19 48
Honeydew honey 78 80 63 70
Heat: 15 min 70
o
C
Blossom honey 86 8
Honeydew honey 94 78
antibacterial activity in % of the untreated controls, rt room temperature 20-25
o
C

Only fresh and unheated honey has optimum antibacterial activity. Early research showed that the peroxide
activity is destroyed by heat and by storage in the light
99, 286, 287
. On the other hand it was shown that the
non-peroxide activity is less susceptible to heat and light
53, 56, 131
. On the other hand, Maillard products which
are produced upon heating and storage of honey have also antibacterial activity
67, 69
. The results are difficult
to interpret as it is not clear which type of antibacterial activity has been tested in many studies. However,
taken a whole there is an overall decrease of all activity upon storage, less if stored in the dark.
For optimum activity store unheated honey in a dark cool place.
Bactericidal or bacteriostatic?
In most of the reports on honey antibacterial action no distinction has been made between the two. Most
experiments report on stop of bacterial growth after a certain time. The higher the concentration the longer is
the period of growth inhibition. Complete inhibition of growth is important for controlling infections
207

The bactericidal action of honey seems to be dependent on the time of honey action. The time for
bactericidal action depends on the bacteria type and vary from several to 40 hours. The concentration of
honey also plays a role. Honey concentrations varying from 5 to 50 % have been found to be bactericidal.
Generally, the higher the concentration, the faster the bactericidal action can take place
207
.
Antiviral, fungicide, anti-parasite activity and neamaticidal activity
Antiviral activity: it was reported that honey has been shown to inhibit in vitro the Rubella virus
297
and
Herpes virus
21
.
Anti-parasite activity: it was reported that honey inhibited the growth of three species of the Leishmania
parasite
298
.
Neamticidal activity of honey against the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is reported
247

Honey has fungicide acitivity, but not many funghi species have been tested. It has antifungal activity
against dermatophytes, that can cause human mycoses (Tinea). Such mycoses is a common disease in
humans. Honey has been shown to have a fungicide activity agains dermatopytes from the genera
Epidermophyton, Microsporum and Thrichophyton, all species that can affect humans
209
.
Recently honey samples from different floral sources were evaluated for their ability to inhibit the growth of
40 yeast strains (Candida albicans, C. krusei, C. glabrata and Trichosoporon spp.). Rhododendron and
multifloral honeys have generally more inhibitory effect than eucalyptus and orange honeys (P < 0.05)
161
.
Different unifloral honey from Slovakia also showed antifungal activity against Penicillium crustosum, P.
expansum, P. griseofulvum, P. raistrickii and P. verrucosum , mostly at concentration higher than 10%
151
.
Further studies are now required to demonstrate if this antifungal activity has any clinical application.
A mixture of honey and yoghurt was successfully tested to control vulvovvaginal candidasis of pregnant
women
1

The fungicide effect of honey against Candida albicans is due to the effect of honey flavonoids
71
. On the
other hand bacteria strain BH072 with a antifungal peptide was isolated in honey
299


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 63
Why is honey successful in antivirulence therapy?
A review of Maddocks and Jenkins addresses this issue. It is
becoming increasingly apparent that honey impacts on the
virulence of bacterial pathogens in addition to affecting cellular
structure and metabolism. This is an attractive attribute for an
antimicrobial, and studies investigating novel ways of treating
bacterial infection are beginning to focus on antivirulence
treatments rather than traditional bactericidal or bacteriostatic
remedies. honey inhibits quorum sensing and virulence. Honey
reduces the capacity of pathogenic microorganisms to obtain iron
from their host is detrimental to both colonization and subsequent
progression of infection. Moreover these mechanisms
demonstrate that honey functions via two independent
mechanisms, being both bactericidal and antivirulent making it
an attractive antimicrobial whose multifaceted action is not likely
to promote resistance. In summary: the multiple effects of honey can be assigned to individual subgroups,
but collectively exert a combined effect against numerous different types of microorganism (see figure
above) Honey can be used together with antibiotics in a synergistice way in order to increase antibiotic
action.
188

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS
Anti-inflammatory effects of honey in humans were studied by Al Waili and
Boni
22
after ingestion of 70 g honey. The mean plasma concentration of
thromboxane B(2) was reduced by 7%, 34%, and 35%, that of PGE(2) by
14%, 10%, and 19% at 1, 2, and 3 hours, respectively, after honey ingestion.
The level of PGF(2) was decreased by 31% at 2 hours and by 14% at 3
hours after honey ingestion. At day 15, plasma concentrations of
thromboxane B(2), PGE(2) and PGF(2) were decreased by 48%, 63% and
50%, respectively.
Ingestion of honey had a positive effect in an experimental model of inflammatory bowel disease in rats
50
.
Honey administration is as effective as prednisolone treatment in an inflammatory model of colitis. The
postulated mechanism of action is by preventing the formation of free radicals released from the inflamed
tissues. The reduction of inflammation could be due to the antibacterial effect of honey or to a direct
antiinflammatory effect. A support of the latter hypothesis was shown in animal studies, where
antiinflammatory effects of honey were observed in wounds with no bacterial infection
237
. Experiments
with honey to reduce artificial inflammation of rabbits point out that the antifinlammtory effect might be due
to improved blood parameters such as reduced infiltration of neutrophils and decreased myeloperoxidase
activity
154
.
New Zealand rewarewa, manuka and kanuka honey samples exhibited potent, dose-dependent reduction of
human neutrophil superoxide production in vitro. This inhibitory activity did not correlate with levels of
known phenolic-based free radical scavengers. Furthermore, the active honeys did not scavenge superoxide
generated in a cell-free xanthine/xanthine oxidase assay. In C57BL/6J mice, topical application of manuka
and rewarewa honey samples with the highest in vitro activity suppressed arachidonic acid-induced ear
oedema, and rewarewa honey suppressed both oedema and leukocyte (monocyte and neutrophil) infiltration.
Together, these findings demonstrate that some indigenous NZ honeys exhibit clinically relevant anti-
inflammatory activity
180

Gelam honey from Malaysia attenuates Carrageenan-induced rat paw inflammation via NF-kappa B
pathway
140

Honey flavonoids significantly inhibited the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and
IL-1 beta. The expressions of iNOS and the production of reactive oxygen intermediates (ROS) were also
significantly inhibited. Accordingly, the present study demonstrates that HFE is a potent inhibitor of
microglial activation and thus a potential preventive therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative diseases
involving neuroinflammation
72

STOP

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 64
Inflammation in specific parts of the human body is thought to be a major cause of cardiovascular
diseases
291
. Thus, the positive effect of honey on cardiovascular health can be explained by the
ant-inflammatory activity of honey.

ANTIOXIDANT ACTION AND OTHER ACTIONS LINKED TO IT
The term oxidative stress describes the lack of equilibrium in the organism
between the production of free radicals and the antioxidant protective activity.
The protection against oxidation is thought to prevent some chronic diseases.
The oxidative modification of the lipoproteins is considered to be an
important factor for the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis.
Honey has been found to contain significant antioxidant activity including glucose
oxidase, catalase, ascorbic acid, flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoid derivatives,
organic acids, Maillard reaction products, amino acids, proteins
16, 25, 44, 52, 68, 88, 117, 122,
129, 129, 142, 222, 228
. The main antioxidants seem to be the phenolis and the Maillard products named
melanoidins.
Different methods have been applied and also antioxidant activity units determined. The different methods
for the determination of the antioxidant activity have been reviewed
28
.
There is a significant correlation between the antioxidant activity, the phenolic content of honey and the
inhibition of the in vitro lipoprotein oxidation of human serum. It was found that honey intake caused a
higher antioxidative effect in blood than the intake of black tea, although its in vitro effect measured as
ORAC activity was five times smaller than that of black tea
130
.
Both the phenolic content and the antioxidant capacity of honey decreases significantly after one year of
storage at room temperature
252

Generally, the darker the honey, the higher its phenolic content and its antioxidant power
47, 112, 129, 195, 234, 250,
281
. Further, in a lipid peroxidation model system buckwheat honey showed a similar antioxidant activity as
1 mM -tocopherol
222
. Also, the influences of honey ingestion on the antioxidative capacity of plasma was
also tested
18, 253
. In the first study the trial persons were given maize syrup or buckwheat honeys with a
different antioxidant capacity in a dose of 1.5 g/kg body weight. In comparison to the sugar control honey
caused an increase of both the antioxidant and the reducing serum capacity
253
. In the second study humans
received a diet supplemented with a daily honey consumption of 1.2 g/kg body weight. Honey increased the
body antioxidant agents: blood vitamin C concentration by 47%, -carotene by 3%, uric acid by 12%, and
glutathione reductase by 7%
18
. It should be borne in mind that the antioxidant activity depends on the
botanical origin of honey and has remarkable variations in honey from different sources
16, 39, 122, 129, 169, 281
.
The antioxidant activity of honey is probably the reason of the protective effect of honey against damage
and oxidative stress induced by CS in rat testis
204

The impact of heat on the antioxidant capacity of clover and buckwheat honey during storage was analysed
recently. Processing clover honey did not significantly impact antioxidant capacity. Storage during 6 months
reduced the antioxidant capacity of honeys by about 30%, with no impact of storage temperature or
container type detected at the end point of the storage period. Antioxidant capacity of processed and raw
honeys was similar after storage
283
. In another study both antioxidant activity and brown pigment formation
increased with heat treatment and time
277
.
These results suggest that not only flavonoids, but also other substances formed under heating could be
responsible for the honey antioxidant effect.
If honey is fermented to mead it loses some of its antioxidant activity, this loss is less pronounced in acacia
and linden honey
94
.
Links to other diseases
In a review by Erejuwa et al. the antioxidant properties of honey are reviewed and honey is praised as a
novel antioxidant. This review presents findings that indicate honey may ameliorate oxidative stress in the
gastrointestinal tract (GIT), liver, pancreas, kidney, reproductive organs and plasma/serum. Besides, the

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 65
review highlights data that demonstrate the synergistic antioxidant effect of honey and antidiabetic drugs in
the pancreas, kidney and serum of diabetic rats. These data suggest that honey, administered alone or in
combination with conventional therapy, might be a novel antioxidant in the management of chronic diseases
commonly associated with oxidative stress. In view of the fact that the majority of these data emanate from
animal studies, there is an urgent need to investigate this antioxidant effect of honey in human subjects with
chronic or degenerative diseases. The authors go on to suggest that honey might be the better antioxidant
than accepted antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, as the latter act also as oxidants
110

Hepatoprotective effects
Generally, antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties correlate well with each other, as decreasing harmful
radicals will protect the liver from them.
The amelioration of oxidative stress, as a result of honey administration, was accompanied by significant
reductions in the size of enlarged hepatocytes and edema, restoration of bile canal iculidilatation and
reduced number of apoptotic cells
157
. Similar hepatoprotective effect of honey was also reported in rats with
obstruction of the common bile duct
111
.
In rats with N-ethylmaleimide (NEM)-induced liver injury, honey supplementation significantly restored the
levels of hepatic glutathione, ameliorated the (NEM)-induced congestion and mononuclear cell infiltration
in the liver
162
. These findings, generally, suggest that amelioration of oxidative stress in the liver may
contribute to the hepatoprotective effect of honey.
Honey can be used as an effective hepatoprotective agent against paracetamol-induced liver damage
125

Anti-inflammatory effects
Inflammation in the body is often caused by free radicals. Thus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of
honey are probably linked to each other. Indeed, the anti-inflammatory action of honey is well documented
(see above).
Radioprotective effects
Gelam honey from Malaysia modulates the expression of antioxidant enzymes at gene and protein levels in
irradiated HDFs indicating its potential as a radioprotectant agent
10
Tualang honey protects keratinocytes
from ultraviolet radiation-induced inflammation and DNA damage
9

Honey, oxidative stress, hypertension and diabetes
Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathogenesis and/or complications of hypertension and/or diabetes
mellitus. A combination of these disorders increases the risk of developing cardiovascular events. This study
investigated the effects of streptozotocin (60 mg/kg; ip)-induced diabetes on blood pressure, oxidative stress
and effects of honey on these parameters in the kidneys of streptozotocin-induced diabetic Wistar-Kyoto
(WKY) and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Diabetic WKY and SHR were randomized into four
groups and received distilled water (0.5 mL) and tualang honey (1.0 g/kg) orally once daily for three weeks.
Control SHR had reduced malondialdehyde (MDA) and increased systolic blood pressure (SBP), catalase
(CAT) activity, and total antioxidant status (TAS). SBP, activities of glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and
glutathione reductase (GR) were elevated while TAS was reduced in diabetic WKY. In contrast, SBP, TAS,
activities of GPx and GR were reduced in diabetic SHR. Antioxidant ( tualang honey) treatment further
reduced SBP in diabetic SHR but not in diabetic WKY. It also increased TAS, GSH, reduced glutathione
(GSH)/oxidized glutathione (GSSG) ratio, activities of GPx and GR in diabetic SHR. These data suggest
that differences in types, severity, and complications of diseases as well as strains may influence responses
to blood pressure and oxidative stress
108

Antioxidant scavenging activity is linked to the prevention of many chronic and age dependent pathological
conditions like cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, cataract and others chronic pathological conditions
32, 110
.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 66
ANTIMUTAGENIC AND ANTITUMOR EFFECTS
Mutagenic substances act directly or indirectly by promoting mutations of genetic
structure. During the roasting and frying of food heterocyclic amines are built, e.g. Trp-
p-1 (3-Amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyridol [4,3-b] indole). The antimutagenic activity of
honeys from seven different floral sources (acacia, buckwheat, fireweed, soybean,
tupelo and Christmas berry) against Trp-p-1 was tested via the Ames assay and
compared to that of a sugar analogue and to individually tested simple sugars. All
honeys exhibited significant inhibition of Trp-p-1 mutagenicity. Glucose and fructose
were found to be similar antimutagenic as honey and were more antimutagenic than
maltose and sucrose
282
.

Stingless bee honeys from west Amazonian Ecuador showed anti-mutagenic activity assayed with
Saccharomyces cerevisiae D7 strain, inhibiting back mutation over the entire tested concentration range
134

Nigerose, another sugar, present in honey
95, 259
, has immunoprotective activity
221
.
The antimetastatic effect of honey and its possible mode of antitumor action was studied by applying honey
in spontaneous mammary carcinoma, in methylcholanthrene-induced fibrosarcoma of CBA mouse and in
anaplastic colon adenocarcinoma of Y59 rats
225
. A statistically significant antimetastatic effect was
achieved by oral application of honey. These findings indicate that honey activates the immune system and
honey ingestion may be advantageous with respect to cancer and metastasis prevention. In addition, the
authors postulate that honey given orally before tumour cell inoculation may have an impact on tumour
spreading. In another work of the same group the effect of honey on tumour growth, metastasising activity
and induction of apoptosis and necrosis in murine tumour models (mammary and colon carcinoma) was
investigated. A pronounced antimetastatic effect was observed when honey was applied before tumour-cell
inoculation (peroral 2 g kg
-1
for mice or 1 g kg
-1
for rats, once a day for 10 consecutive days)
226
.
The anti-proliferative effect of honey in colon cancer cells was explained by its antioxidant and anti-
inflammatory properties
147
.
Honey exerted antiproliferative potential against the HCT-15 and HT-29 colon cancer cells as assessed by 3-
(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. Flow cytometric analysis
showed the increasing accumulation of hypodiploid nuclei in the sub-G(1) phase of cell cycle indicating
apoptosis. Honey transduced the apoptotic signal via initial depletion of intracellular non protein thiols,
consequently reducing the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and increasing the reactive oxygen
species (ROS) generation. An increasing earlier lipid layer break was observed in the treated cells compared
to the control. Honey induced apoptosis was accompanied by up-regulating the p53 and modulating the
expression of pro and anti-apoptotic proteins. Further apoptosis induction was substantiated using DNA
fragmentation assay and YO-PRO-1 staining. Results showed honey as a plausible candidate for induction
of apoptosis through ROS and mitochondria-dependent mechanisms in colon cancer cells. This will promote
honey as a potential chemotherapeutic agent against colon cancer
148
. Gelam and Nenas monofloral honeys
inhibit proliferation of HT 29 colon cancer cells by inducing DNA damage and apoptosis
284

Honey ingestion by rats induced antitumor and pronounced antimetastatic effects. The experimental
evaluation of antitumor properties of honey was carried out using five strains of rat and murine tumors.
Honey potentiated the antitumor activity of 5-fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide
132

In another study the antitumour effect of bee honey against bladder cancer was examined in vitro and in vivo
in mice
262
. According to these results honey is an effective agent for inhibiting in vitro the growth of
different bladder cancer cell lines (T24, RT4, 253J and MBT-2). It is also effective when administered
intralesionally or orally in the MBT-2 bladder cancer implantation mice models.
3 Spanish honeys induced apoptosis in a concentration and time dependent-manner, in addition, honeys with
the higher phenolic content, heather and polyfloral, were the most effective to induce apoptosis in HL-60
cells. However, honeys did not generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC)
could not block honeys-induced apoptosis in HL-60 cells. These data support that honeys induced apoptosis
in HL-60 cells through a ROS-independent cell death pathway, indicating that the antiproliferative and
apoptotic effects of honey varied according to the floral origin and the phenolic content
215

Tsiapara et al. investigated the influence of Greek honey extracts (thyme, pine and fir honey) on the
oestrogenic activity and cell viability of breast (MCF-7), endometrial (Ishikawa) and prostate (PC-3) cancer

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 67
cells. Thyme honey reduced the viability of Ishikawa and PC-3 cells, whereas fir honey stimulated the
viability of MCF-7 cells. The authors concluded that modulation of oestrogen activity was linked to the rich
phenolic content of Greek honeys and suggested that a thyme honey-enriched diet may prevent cancer
related processes in breast, prostate and endometrial cancer cells
276
.
The antiproliferative activity, apoptosis, and the antitumor effects of honey on human renal cancer cell lines
(ACHN) were studied. Honey decreased the cell viability in the malignant cells in a concentration-and time-
dependent manner. Honey induced apoptosis of the ACHN cells in a concentration-dependent manner. It is
concluded that honey may cause cell death in the ACHN cells by inducing apoptosis
249

HMF, a compound found in heated honey has been found to possess antitumor properties
203
. Thus,
overheated honeys could potentially compensate the loss of quality by winning anti-cancer properties.
Jungle honey, collected from tree blossom by wild honeybees that live in the tropical forest of Nigeria)
enhanced immune functions and antitumour activity in mice
124
.
Tualang honey from Malaysia has: antiproliferative activity on OSCC and HOS cell lines, exerting early
apoptosis effects
127
and antitumor effects in experimental breast cancer in rats
152
. This honey induces
apoptosis and disrupts the mitochondrial membrane potential of human breast and cervical cancer cell
lines
118
and inhibits also primary human keloid fibroblasts
263

Manuka honey has antiproliferative activity of manuka honey on three different cancer cell lines, murine
melanoma (B16.F1) and colorectal carcinoma (CT26) as well as human breast cancer (MCF-7) cells in
vitro
119

A 2012 publication on honey against cancer reviews the anticancerogenic properties of a number of honey
flavonoids
4

IMMUNOACTIVATING AND IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE PROPERTIES
Immuno-activating properties
The effect of honey on the antibody production against thymus-dependent antigen sheep
red blood cells and thymus-independent antigen (Escherichia coli) in mice was studied
23
. According to this study oral honey stimulates antibody production during primary and
secondary immune responses against thymus-dependent and thymus-independent
antigens.
It has been reported that honey stimulates T-lymphocytes in cell culture to multiply, and
activates neutrophils
5

In a study with humans receiving a diet supplemented with a daily honey consumption for two weeks of 1.2
g/kg body weight ingestion of honey following effects were observed: Increase of serum iron by 20% and
decrease of plasma ferritin by 11%, an 50 % increase of monocytes and slight increases of lymphocyte and
eosinophil percentages, reduction in serum of immunoglobulin E (34%) aspartate transaminase (22%) and
alanine transaminase (18%), lactic acid dehydrogenase (41%), fasting sugar (5%) and creatine kinase and
finally an increase in blood of copper (33%) and slight elevations of zinc and magnesium, hemoglobin and
packed cell volume
18

Honey increase proliferation of B- and T-lymphocytes and neutrophils in vitro
5
.
In another study with rats, feeding of honey caused an increase of lymphocytes in comparison with the
sucrose fed controls
76
.
Apalbumine 1, the dominant royal jelly in honey with immunostimulating properties, is present in honey
49

Immuno-supressive propeties
In animal experiments honey showed an immunosuppressive activity
97
. In experiments with isolated
leukocytes honey inhibited phagocytic myeloperoxidase activity
202
.
These findings is in line with the common belief that ingestion of honey can relieve pollen hypersensitivity.
Immuno suppression plays also a positive role in autoimmune diseases.
Honey causes both an enhancement of the immune response and an immuno-supression. The
immunoactivating effects are in line with the common belief that honey improves human reaction to viral

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 68
infections. Honey may be also trigger immunoactivating activity by its stimulatory effects on lymphocytes
and also by its probiotic effects (see above).
On the other hand the immunosuppressive activity of honey is probably due to ts anti-inflammatory effect.
These effects are in line with the belief that honey ingestion will decrease allergic reactions like hay fever.
CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Feeding of honey or sugar to Wistar rats resulted both in increase of weight in comparison to controls.
Sucrose fed fat cells were significantly larger than the honey fed ones. Compared to the controls (no sugars)
sucrose feeding increased blood pressure, but not the honey fed rats
244
.
Ahmad et al. tested the effect of honey on bovine thrombin -induced oxidative burst in human blood
phagocytes. Honey treatment of phagocytes activated by bovine thrombin showed effective suppression of
oxidative respiratory burst. It can be assumed that this suppressive activity of honey could be beneficial in
the interruption of the pathological progress of cardiovascular disease and may play a cardioprotective role
8

Ingestion of honey by healthy humans has an effect on blood homostasis by inhibiting platelet aggregation.
The anticoagulant effect of could be due to several subsnances present in honey: hydrogen peroxide, a
platelet aggregation inhibitor, to honey flavonoids or sugars
11
or to by the influence on platelet function
caused by honey induced LDL oxidation
135
.
Greek honey exerts strong antioxidant activity on both human LDL, in accordance to previous studies with
honeys of other origin5, and on serum total lipoprotein oxidation in vitro. The exact quantity of honey which
can be consumed daily for major antioxidant protection, needs to be estimated
193
.
Compared with fructose-fed rats, honey-fed rats had a higher plasma -tocopherol level, and an -
tocopherol/triacylglycerol ratio, as well as a lower plasma nitrate levels and susceptibility of the heart to
lipid peroxidation
70

Honey ingestion improves experimental heart weaknesses as extrasystoles, arrhythmia and tachicardia of
rats
239


PREBIOTIC AND PROBIOTIC EFFECTS
Other important honey effects on human digestion have been linked to honey
oligosaccharides. These honey constituents has a prebiotic effect, similar to that
of fructooligosaccharides
251, 295
. The oligosaccharide panose was the most
active oligosaccharide. These compounds exert the prebiotic effect in a
synergistic mode of action, rather to one of individual components, leading to
an increase of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli
278
. According to an in vitro study
on five bifidobacteria strains honey has a growth promoting effect similar to
that of fructose and glucose oligosaccharides
153
. Unifloral honeys of sour-wood, alfalfa and sage origin
honey stimulated also the growth of five human intestinal bifidobacteria
258
. In another study honey
increases both in vivo (small and large intestines of rats) and in vitro the building of Lactobacillus
acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum, while sucrose failed to produce any effect
255
.
Honey showed prebiotic activity towards 3 Lactobacillus species isolated from human faeces
268

It is not clear whether all types of honey exibit prebiotic effects and whether some honeys have a stronger
prebiotic effect. Sour-wood, alfalfa and sage
153
and also clover honey
153
have been shown to have prebiotic
activity.
The prebiotic activity of chestnut honey was found to be higher than that of acacia honey
185
.
Oligosaccharides from honeydew honey have prebiotic activity
251
. Theoretically honeydew honeys,
containing more oligosaccharides should have a stronger prebiotic activity than blossom honeys. There is
need of more research on prebiotic activity of unifloral honeys.
However the influence of the oligosaccharide content is questioned. Sage, alfalfa and sourwood honey,
which vary in their oligosaccharide contents, were compared with sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and
inulin in their ability to support growth, activity and viability of lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria
typically used in yoghurt manufacturing. Growth and the end products of fermentation (lactic and acetic
acids) were determined. Growth and acid production by organisms studied in the presence of different
sweeteners were dependent on the specific organism investigated; however, it was not influenced by

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 69
sweetener type, oligosaccharide content or the floral source of the honeys. All the sweeteners studied
supported the growth, activity and viability of the organisms studied
236

It has been shown that fresh honey has probiotic Bifidus and Lactobacilus bacteria. However these bacteria
are viable only in fresh honey, about 2-3 months old
224

Other effects
Antinociceptive activity
The antinociceptive (pain-soothing) is thought to be triggered by quinoline alkaloids. These quinoline
alkaloids are present in exceptionally high concentration in chestnut honey, while they were present in much
lesser quantitities in honeydew, acacia, thyme, lavender, dandelion, sulla, thymus, sunflower and linden
honeys
43, 45
.
Antiacetylcholinesterase activity
Antiacetylcholinesterase activity is thought to be linked with the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases
such as Alzheimer. Several Brazilian honeys have significant antiacetylcholinesterase activity, which
depended on the floral source
182

Honey improving renal function
Experiments with rats showed that honey ingestion improves their renal function
15

Honey and the brain
Honey ingestion improves anxiety and the spatial memory of rats
77

Research with different Nigerian honeys was carried out. The results showed that honey significantly (p <
0.05) decreased locomotion and rearing behaviors in NIB and amphetamine-induced locomotor activity
when compared to the control group. Exploratory behavior was significantly increased in both holeboard
and elevated plus maze but had no significant effect on spatial working memory. Honey sample from
Umudike has significant hypnotic and anticonvulsant effects. The antinociceptive models (hot plate and tail
flick tests) showed that the honey samples significantly increased the pain reaction time and naloxone
blocked these central antinociceptive effects. The force swimming test showed that only the Idanre (ID)
honey sample had antidepressant effect. In conclusion, some of these honey samples have central inhibitory
property, anxiolytic, antinociceptive, anticonvulsant and antidepressant effects, thus may be used as
nutraceutic. It can also be inferred that some of these effects are probably mediated through dopaminergic
and opioidergic systems
12
.
Honey for good fertility
Tualang honey from Malaysia was found to have a beneficial effect on menopausal rats by preventing
uterine atrophy, increased bonde density and suppression of increase of body weight
296

Malaysan honey had a positive effect of testicular function in rats
191
. A study with Palestine honey showed
that it increased spermatogenesis in rats
2
.

Against osteoporosis
Honey improves on the short term Ca absorption in rat bones in a positive dose response fashion, but this
effect disappears on the long term
36
. It was shown in a review article that Tualang honey can be used as an
alternative treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis of women
106

Against radiation-induced inflammation
Tualang honey protects keratinocytes from ultraviolet radiation-induced inflammation and DNA Damage
9


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 70
NUTRITIONAL AND FUNCTIONAL PROPERTIES OF UNIFLORAL
HONEYS
Due to different proportions of the possible sources, nectar
and/or honeydew coming from a great variety of plants, no
honey is completely the same as another one. This variability
could be a handicap, given the market requirement for a
consistent product, but when properly managed, it also could
represent an opportunity for enhancing honey by offering to the
consumer a number of typical products with special
characteristics, according to the particular botanical origin.
Indeed, unifloral honeys are regarded as a more valuable class of honey, and botanical denominations are
widely employed on the European market, often achieving higher prices than honey blends. Unifloral
honeys have higher prices than blend honeys. In countries like France, Italy and Spain 30 to 50 % of the
marketed honey is unifloral. In non-European countries, with the exception of the Manuka New Zealand
honey, unifloral honeys have a smaller importance. Information on European unifloral honeys is compiled in
the special Apidologie Issue 35 from 2004. In Europe there are more than 100 plant species that can give
origin to unifloral honey, most of them having only a local importance
230
.
While the characterisation of microscopical, physical and physical properties of unifloral honeys is well
advanced, the nutritional and health enhancing properties of unifloral honeys is quite a new field of research.
The composition of honey depends on its botanical origin, regarding the main nutrients, the carbohydrates,
and also the minor ones Persano and Piro
231
.
Glycemic Index and fructose
The variation of the Glycemic Index (GI) varies according to the botanical origin of honey is described
earlier in this chapter.
Vitamins
Table 7: Average concentration of water-soluble vitamins in Sardinian monofloral honeys
mg/kg +/- SD, after
80



B
2
B
3
B
5
B
9
C Sum
Eucalyptus (n = 5) <1.458 <2.262 <3.686 5.6 0.4 3.2 0.7 <16.2
Sulla (n = 3) <0.417 5 1 5.2 0.7 <0.383 1.3 0.8 <12
Citrus (n = 3) 2.2 0.2 26 2 <5.613 <0.383 2 2 <36
Asphodel (n = 3) 3.7 0.3 5.8 0.1 16 6 <1.1 2 2 <28
Acacia (n = 2) <0.25 5 1 <1.75 <0.325 1.2 0.2 <8.5
Lavender (n = 2) 4 1 <3.125 <0.58 <1.575 2.2 0.4 <11.5
Thistle (n = 3) <4.16 8.6 0.8 <1.75 <1.447 2.3 0.3 <18.3
Strawberry-tree (n = 3) <0.87 <4.633 <10.11 <0.39 4 1 <20
Heather (n = 1) <0.25 5.92 0.01 <0.58 <0.50 2.7 0.9 <10.0
Rosemary (n = 1) <0.25 <0.75 <0.58 1.7 0.2 1.5 0.2 <4.8
Linden (n = 1) <0.25 7.0 0.3 <0.58 1.28 0.05 <0.10 <9.2
Multioral (n = 1) 1.1 0.5 8 1 <0.58 1.8 0.3 <0.10 <11.6


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 71

Antibacterial properties
The antimicrobial effect of honey is due to different substances and depends on the botanical origin of honey
54, 183, 206, 207, 209

Table 8. A: Antibacterial potency of unifloral honeys
Honey type Antibacterial potency,
type of antibacterial activity
Reference
Summarising, antimicrobial effect of honey is due to different substances and depends on the botanical
origin of honey
54, 206, 207, 209
Dark colour
Buckwheat high potency, undetermined type
66

Blueberry high potency, undetermined type
66

Chestnut average to high, both peroxide and non-peroxide
54, 207, 275, 292

Cotton high, undetermined, peroxide
207, 289

Fennel High, peroxide
33

Heather low to high, undetermined type
54, 207

Honeydew, dark, both coniferous
and non coniferous
high: both peroxide and non peroxide
54

65, 100, 192, 207

33

Jarrah high: peroxide and non peroxide
143

Kanuka High: non peroxide
138, 293

Linen vine (Cuba) high, undetermined type
29

Manuka high: peroxide and non-peroxide
54, 207

Marri (red gum) high: peroxide and non peroxide
143

Medlar high: non-peroxide
159

Tualang high: peroxide and non peroxide
158, 265

Intermediate colour
Eucalyptus, low to high: peroxide and non peroxide
54, 65, 275, 290

Linden, low to high: peroxide and non peroxide
207, 275

Revanil high: peroxide and non peroxide
172

Thyme low to high: peroxide and non-peroxide
65, 73

Tupello average: peroxide
289

Ulmo high: probably peroxide
256

Light colour
Acacia low-average: undetermined, non-peroxide
54, 275

Christmas vine (Cuba) low, undetermined type
29

Borage low-medium
65, 211

Fire-weed (Finland) high, undetermined
141

Clover Average, undetermined, peroxide,
65, 74, 207, 289

Lavender medium: undetermined or non-peroxide
54, 275, 290

Lucerne low: undetermined and peroxide
275, 289

Rosemary low to high, undetermined, non-peroxide
290
,
172

Orange low-average: peroxide and non-peroxide
54, 275, 289

Rape low to high: peroxide and non peroxide
38, 54, 65, 207

Rhododendron low to high, undetermined or non-peroxide
54, 275

Sunflower low-average: undetermined or non-peroxide
54, 275

Taraxacum low-high: undetermined, non-peroxide
54, 275



Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 72

B: Summary Antibacterial activity of honey
High activity Intermediate activity Low activity
blueberry, buckwheat, chestnut,
cotton, fire-weed, heather, jarrah,
honeydew, linen vine, manuka,
red gum, revanil, tualang, ulmo
eucalyptus, clover, lavender,
linden, rape, rhododendron,
rosemary, thyme, tupello
acacia, Christmas vine, borage, ,
lucerne, orange

The antibacterial properties of honey have been reviewed above. The dependence of the antibacterial
activity on the botanical origin is less clear cut than the antioxidant properties of honey. This can be
explained by two facts. On one hand, there are different antibacterial factors: hydrogen peroxide, different
honey components, most of all acids, and also phenolics, on the other a part of the antibacterial substances
are added by the bees
54
.
The hydrogen peroxide in honey is produced by glucose oxidase and destroyed by catalase. The resultant
between the two enzymes will determine the peroxide accumulation capacity of honey.
According to White and Dustmann the peroxide accumulation capacity of honey depends on the botanical
origin of honey. Generally, dark honeys have a higher activity
100, 288
.
The non-peroxide, antibacterial activity depends also on the botanical source of honey
54, 275
, but there was
no clear cut correlation between honey colour and non-peroxide activity. Taormina et al found that darker
honeys (buckwheat, blueberry) have a significant non-peroxide activity
267

Manuka is considered the honey with the strongest antibacterial properties
209
, but there is increasing
evidence that other unifloral honeys, most of them with a dark colour have a similarly high antibacterial
potency (table 7).

Antioxidant properties
The antioxidant activity of honey has been reviewed above. The antioxidant properties of honey depend on
the botanical origin of honey, the darker the honey the higher its antioxidative power
30, 47, 74, 120, 122, 129, 160, 169,
170, 170, 195, 229, 232-234, 245, 281
. Exceptions are some relatively lighter honeys like arbutus honey from southern
Europe,
30
and sourwood honey from Malaysia
213
.
Following dark honey types have especially high antioxidant power:
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum sp.)
Chinese milk vetch (Astragalus adsurgens)
Heather (Caluna vulgaris, Erica umbellata)
Honeydew (all types of honeydew honeys)
Manuka (Leptospermum Scoparium
Strawberry tree honey (Arbutus menziesii)
Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa)
Tualang (Koompassia excelsa)
Ceratonia
Peppermint

Imunostimulating effects
Apalbumine 1, the dominant royal jelly in honey with immunostimulating properties, is present in unifloforal
honeys in different quantities. The quantity of apalbumine decreases in the following order: Chestnut >
dandelion > Rape, Linden, Acacia
49



Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 73
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
K Cu Mn
%

d
e
s

R
D
I

a
t

2
0

g

/

d
a
y
Fir
Rape
Linden
Rododendron
Chestunut
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
K Cu Mn
%

d
e
s

R
D
I

a
t

2
0

g

/

d
a
y
Fir
Rape
Linden
Rododendron
Chestunut
Prebiotic properties
It is not clear whether all types of honey exibit prebiotic effects and whether some honeys have a stronger
prebiotic effect. Sour-wood, alfalfa, sage and clover honeys
153
have been shown to have prebiotic activity.
It was shown that the prebiotic activity of chestnut honey is bigger than that of acacia honey
185
.
Oligosaccharides from honeydew honey have prebiotic activity
251
. Theoretically honeydew honeys,
containing more oligosaccharides should have a stronger prebiotic activity than blossom honeys. There is
need of more research on prebiotic activity of unifloral honeys.
Mineral content
The mineral composition of honey depends on the botanical origin of honey
42, 57, 189, 241, 271

Variation of honey mineral content, after
42







Lavandula stoechas, Citrus spp. and
Echium plantagineum honeys collected in Portugal
were determined by fluorometry after reaction
with 2.3-diaminonaphthalene. The selenium levels of the honey samples studied were low, ranging from
<1.0 to 2.91 g/100 g fresh weight. The honeys from Erica spp., C sativa and E. plantagineum presented the
highest selenium values from all the honeys studied (median values 1.69, 1.51 and 1.51 g /100 g fresh
weight), and the honeys from Eucalyptus spp., L stoechas and Citrus spp. presented the lowest values
(median values 1.33, 1.28 and 1.20 g /100 g fresh weight). The selenium content of Erica spp., was
significantly higher than that observed for the Eucalyptus spp., L. stoechas and Citrus spp. and the selenium
level of the Eucalyptus spp., was also significantly lower than that observed C. sativa and E. plantagineum
honeys
81
.
Gastroprotective properties
The content of nitrate (NO
3
) in honey is thought to be the causative action of the gastroprotective action of
honey. Dark honeys like honeydew and sweet chestnut had considerably higher concentration than light
honeys (acacia, orange blossom, lavender, sunflower, arbutus)
45


HONEY PRODUCED BY DIFFERENT HONEYBEES
Apis mellifera honey
Most studied honeys are those produced by Apis mellifera, which is spread all over the world. In
Europe there are different local honeybee Apis mellifera subspecies, but there are very few studies
comparing the biological properties of the different species as there are generally no differences in
the honeys produced by these bees. In a study in Scilly the honeys produced by the local black bees
Apis mellifera ssp. Sicula had about 10 times higher content of polyphenolics and higher
antibacterial activity than the same honey species produced by other Apis mellifera bees
270
.
Honey of different Asian honeybees
In Asia some of the honey is produced by local bee species: Apis cerana, Apis dorsata, Apis florae
and Apis laboriosa. In one study in all these honeys both peroxide and non-peroxide antibacterial

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 74
activity was encountered, Apis florea honey having the highest activity. However it is not clear
whether the differences encountered are due to the bee or to the honey plant species
126
. Tualang
honey from Malasia, produced by Apis dorsata has an exceptionally high antibacterial activity,
comparable to that of Manuka honey
194, 223, 265

Stingless bee honey
Honey from different stingless bees has considerable antibacterial activity
60, 91, 144, 200, 235, 269
in
some honeys being comparable to the one of Manuka honey
60, 235, 269
. Stingless bee honey from
Ghana had a higher antibiotic activity than 8 synthetic antibiotics
173
. Honey from the Brazilian
stingless bee Plebeija spp. had a higher antioxidant activity than the honey gather in comparable
hives nearby by the africanized bee A.Melifera
96
. The antibacterial activity of honeys from
5different Brazilian stingless bees is different
201
.

QUANTITY AND TIME OF HONEY INGESTION
From nutrition point of view honey is a sugar. For sweeteners a maximum of 40 to 50 g per day is generally
accepted. Taking into consideration that other sugars are also ingested a quantity of 20 g daily can be
recommended. However it should be remembered, that for health enhancing and medical purposes higher
amounts, 50 to 80 g of honey per day are recommended (see Chapter 8 on honey and medicine). But such
high intake should be limited to a certain period of time.

HONEY USES
Food industry



Due to its various favourable properties honey is used as an additive to a variety of food and beverages (see
Table 5). The application of honey as a food additive is based on its manifold properties. The antibacterial
effect of honey (see part II) counteracts microbial spoilage of food, e.g. of meat
222
. The antioxidant effect of
honey prevents oxidation of food during storage. Honey acts against lipid oxidation of meat
197, 222
and is thus
a efficient meat additive for preventing oxidation spoilage, e.g. to poultry
34
or to meat and muscle of
unspecified origin
222
. Effects of honey against enzymatic browning of fruits and vegetables
75
, soft drinks
175

light raisin
198
, apple slices
227
have been reported. Honey enzymes have a clearing effect in fruit juices and
fruit drinks manufacturing
176, 227
. Other physical and sensory properties make honey a good candidate for an
additive to a wide variety of food: good sensory and rheological properties, superior microwave reactivity
than synthetic sugars etc. More information on honey application in food is available through the American
National Honey Board (http://www.nhb.org/foodtech/index.html).
Honey enhances the growth of dairy starter cultures in milk and milk products. Especially species with week
growth rates in milk such as bifidobacteria are usually fortified by growth enhancers or by honey. The
growth rate of two bifidobacteria Bf-1 and Bf-6 in milk can be stimulated by the addition of honey to milk
279
. The effect of honey was more pronounced than the one caused by common growth enhancers based on
other oligosaccharides. Thus, honey can be used as a prebiotic additive to probiotic milk products.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 75
Honey added to non fat dry milk has a favourable influence on some other good bacteria
78
The milk was
incubated with Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp.
bulgaricus, or Bifidobacterium bifidum. Honey supported the growth of all strains. The authors conclude that
various oligosaccharides found in honey may be responsible for the enhanced lactic acid production by
bifidobacteria.
Due to its antioxidant activity the addition of honey to patties seems to prevent formation of heterocyclic
aromatic amine and overall mutagenicity in fried ground-beef patties
257
.
Acacia honey did not affect the survival of the microbial flora of yoghurt during a 6 week refrigerated
storage period
280
. Also, honey had no effect on pH and lactic acid levels of the final products. In addition, at
a rate of approximately 3.0% (w/v), it highly improves the sensory quality of the product without having a
detrimental effect on characteristic lactic acid bacteria. Another study with sunflower honey showed that
addition of honey (2,4 and 6 %) increased the values of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus
delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus values, optimum sweetness was at 4 % honey
254
.
Another main application of honey in food industry is in baking, cereal and the confectionary industry. A
review on these applications is summarised in a PhD study
261
. Proposed advantages of honey additions to
baked goods are moisture retention, good texture, improved baking, flavour and sensory properties.
Acacia and chestnut honey had a stimulatory effect on the growth of Lactobacillus casei Lc-01 in cow's and
goat's milk
260

An overview of the different application of honey in food industry is given in the table below. A wide
variety of the application research on different application of honey as a food additive has been
commissioned by the American National Honey Board. (www.honey.com) All the mentioned applications
showcase a detailed description of the research carried out, together with comprehensive explanations of the
honey use.

Table 9: Honey applications in the food industry
Use Explanation
Sweetener for: sport beverages, non-alcoholic fruit
beverages, ice tea, yoghurt drinks, chocolate milk
beverages; fermented beverages; vinegar, vegetable
juices; in mead production
supplies different natural honey flavours and colours;
honey sugars are fermentable and give alcoholic drinks
unique flavours; prevents browning due to antioxidative
properties
Additive to poultry and other meat, to fruit and vegetable
processing
Antioxidant and preservative (anti-bacterial) properties,
reduces browning, improves sensory properties
Additive to microwave foods: cakes, muffins, cookies,
glazes
Superior microwave reactivity and water activity
managements than synthetic sugars
Additive to flour bagels, cereals, chicken marinades,
French fries, bread, pasta, extruded snacks, corn chips,
potato chips
Improves sensory properties, adds/retains moisture due to
hygroscopic properties; improves browning due to
reducing sugars;
Additive to frozen ice cream and dough Better stability and sensory properties
Additive to fruit spreads, peanut butter, nut spread, Better storability and sensory properties
Additive to salsas and sauces Neutralises sour and burn intensity
Additive to fried or roasted beef, poultry Reduces the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines and
their mutagenic effects
Dried honey Convenient as consistent in texture, flavour and colour,
allowing blending with other dry ingredients


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 76




Honey in cosmetics
Since old times honey was used in cosmetics. Queen Cleopatra took a bath of honey and milk for her beauty.
Today honey is also contained in many cosmetic products. It is a component of the water soluble part of
cosmetic emulsions as a humidifier for the cosmetics product and for the skin. Generally, honey cosmetics is
suitable for all skin types. Honey is hygroscopic, antibacterial and fungicide, and its ingredients nurture the
skin. It is mildly acetic and contributes to strengthening the upper acetic protective skin layer (pH of the skin
is 5.5).

Honey cosmetic products






Shampoo, Hairbalm and purifying lotion
with honey


A hand cream and sun cream with honey


Mask is the best form that complies with the consistency of honey. It nourishes the skin and keeps it
moisturized. Regular use of them keeps skin juvenile and retards wrinkle formation. To mix the ingredients
you can use mixer. They are left for about an hour, then removed using a gauze and warm water and then
washed.

Simple recipes for honey cosmetics taken from different Internet sources
Face Masks
Cleopatra mask
Honey 1 teaspoonful
Milk 1 tablespoonful
Egg white of 1 egg
Honey mask
Place a cloth in warm water and apply to your face to
open the pores. Smear on honey, and leave on for 15
to 30 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, then use
cold water to close the pores.
Use once a week.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 77
Egg yolk mask
Honey 1 teaspoonful
Glycerin 1 teaspoonful
Egg yolk of 1 egg
Egg white mask
Honey 1 teaspoonful
Glycerin 1 teaspoonful
Egg White of 1 egg
Fairness Mask
Honey 10 g
Distilled water 155 ml + alcohol 70% 30 ml
Borax 4 g
Bergamot oil 3 drops + orange oil 2drops
Quick mask
Honey 100 g
Alcohol 25 ml
Water 25 ml
Hand Care
Emulsion for hands
Honey 2 teaspoonful
Almond oil 1 teaspoonful
Perfume few drops
Massage your hands, leave for a while and wash if
you need.
Paste for hands
Honey 10 g
Wheat flour 6 g
Water 4 g
Massage your hands
Honey Bath
Add 200-250 g of
honey to the bathing
water.
If used once in a while
(e.g. every 2 weeks), it
will keep on a good
turger of the cells and
nourishes the skin.
1/2 cup sea salt
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1 cup honey
2 cups milk
10 drops of vanilla oil
dissolve sea salt and baking soda in bathwater,
dissolve honey in boiling water and add milk, add
milk-honey mixture and vanilla oil to bathwater, swirl
water to blend all ingredients

Cracked Lips
Honey 10 g
Lemon juice 10 g
To be used concomitantly with lip moisturizer
containing Panthenol.


Further reading for this section:
89


ALLERGY AND POTENTIAL HEALTH HAZARDS
Allergy
Up to 5 % of the population is suffering from allergies. Compared to other foods allergy to honey seems
relatively uncommon. Recently honey allergy was reviewed
101
. In epidemiological studies with normal
people the allergy incidence is very low. In one study in Turkey with 4331 students no honey allergy could
be detected, while in another Turkish study with 3810 patients searching consultation in an allergy clinic the
honey allergy incidence was 1.8 %.
The incidence of honey allergy, reported in a group of 173 food allergy patients was 2.3% as reported by
137
.
In this study with allergic patients the allergy honey allergy is explained by the presence of honey
components of bee origin or by dandelion and Compositae pollen.
Allergies reported can involve reactions varying from cough to anaphylaxis
63
.
It was also reported that patients allergic to pollen are rarely allergic to honey, although there is one reported
case of honey pollen allergy
64
.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 78
Toxic compounds in honey
Honey as any other natural food can be contaminated from the environment, e.g. heavy metals, pesticides,
antibiotics etc. Generally, the contamination levels found in Europe do not present a health hazard.
55
.
A few plants are known to produce nectar containing toxic substances. Diterpenoids and pyrazolidine
alkaloids are two main toxin groups relevant in nectar. Some plants of the Ericaceae family belonging to the
sub-family Rhododendron, e.g. Rhododendron ponticum contain toxic polyhydroxylated cyclic
hydrocarbons or diterpenoids
90
. Honey containing R. ponticum is called mad honey and is found in some
regions of Turkey. Ingestion of this type of honey is not lethal, it causes some complaints such as dizziness,
nausea-vomiting, sweating, weakness, blurred vision, convulsions and loss of consciousness, extremity
paresthesia, excessive perspiration and salivation
62

Substances of the other toxin group, pyrazolidine alkaloids, are found in different honey types and the
potential intoxication by these substances is reviewed by
105

Cases of honey poisoning have been reported very rarely in the literature and concern mostly individuals
from the following regions: Caucasus, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Nepal, South Africa and
different countries in North and South America. The symptoms encountered after honey poisoning are
vomiting, headache, stomach ache, unconsciousness, delirium, nausea and sight weakness. In general those
poisonous plants are known to the local beekeepers, thus honey, which can contain poisonous substances is
not marketed. To minimise risks of honey born poisoning in countries where plants with poisonous nectar are
growing tourists are advised to buy honey from the market only and not from individual beekeepers.
Clostridium botulinum
There is a health concern for infants regarding the presence of Clostridium (Cl.) botulinum in honey. Since
the presence of this bacterium in natural foods is ubiquitous and honey is a non sterilized packaged food
from natural origin the risk of a low contamination level cannot be excluded. Spores of this bacterium can
survive in honey, but they cannot build toxin. Thus, in the stomach of infants younger than one year the
bacteria spores from honey can survive and theoretically build the toxin, while children older than 12
months can ingest honey without any risk. In some cases, infant botulism has been attributed to ingestion of
honey
82, 266
. In Germany one case of infant botulism per year is reported
217
. As a result of the reported
infant botulism cases some honey packers (e.g. the British Honey Importers and Packers Association) place
a warning on the honey label that honey should not be given to infants under 12 months of age.
In 2002 a scientific committee of the EU examined the hazard of Cl. botulinum in honey It has concluded
that microbiological examinations of honey are necessary for controlling the spore concentration in honey,
as the incidence of Cl. botulinum is relatively low and sporadic and as such tests will not prevent infant
botulism. Thus, in the EU countries the health authorities have not issued a regulation for placing a warning
label on honey jars
114
.
HEALTH CLAIMS FOR HONEY
According to the EU Regulation 1924/2006
116
different health claims can be made: The claims are
classified using the Passclaim project classification of the International Life Science Institute (ILSI)
37
,
wherever possible In the Passclaim project the claims are classified into the following subject areas:
1. Diet-related cardiovascular disease
2. Bone health and osteoporosis
3. Physical performance and fitness
4. Body weight regulation, insulin sensitivity and diabetes risk
5. Diet-related cancer
6. Mental state and performance
7. Gut health, digestion and immunity
Honey health claims
Quantity and time of honey ingestion
The health enhancing effects in human adults, described in this report were mostly achieved after ingestion
of 50 to 80 g of honey per day.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 79
The health claims of honey which are reported below are valid for intakes of following amounts of honey:
Adults: after ingestion of 50 to 80 g per day by adults,
General (adults or infants): 0.8 g to 1.2 g honey per g human weight
The health effects reported in the different publications reported above were measured mostly after 2 to 3
weeks of daily honey ingestion. Practical apitherapists suggest a daily honey ingestion for 1.5 to 2 months
187, 238
.
The main honey health claims for honey are
Physical performance and fitness
Honey is high carbohydrate food and its ingestion increases performance and fitness
Ingestion of honey increases performance and fitness
Gut health and digestion
Long term ingestion of honey can improve gut and gastroenterological health
Immunity
Long term ingestion of honey can improve the immunological reaction towards infections
Specific nutritional effects
Nutrition of infants
Honey should not be given to infants less than one year old
Honey can be recommended as food for infants older than one year..
Nutrition of Diabetes II patients
There evidence that honey can used as a sweetener by humans with diabetes II. Any honey can be used for
this purpose, the most suitable honey is acacia honey (Robinia pseudoacacia), as it has the lowest GI.

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Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 97

Honey in Medicine

Stefan Bogdanov


SHORT HISTORY OF HONEY IN MEDICINE

Pabasa tombs, 26th Dynasty, 760-656 BC

Wound healing was probably the first use of honey for human health. In
the oldest human scriptures from Sumer, dating back about 2000 BC a
prescription for treating wounds states: Grind to a powder river dust and
. (words missing) then knead it in water and honey and let plain oil and
hot cedar oil be spread over it
65

According to the Ebers papyrus (1550 BC) honey is included in 147
prescriptions in external applications: Mix honey, red ochre, powdered
alabaster to cure spotted baldness or includes honey after surgery, as
suppository and to reduce inflammation.
65

According to the Smith papyrus (1700 BC) it was used in wound healing:
Thou shouldst bind [the wound] with fresh meat the first day [and] treat
afterwards with grease, honey [and] lint every day until he recovers.
65

In the first compendium of ancient Chinese Medicine Shen Nang,
compiled many years BC, and mentioned in a written form for the first
time around 200 AD there are many prescriptions and medical indications
which contain honey
119
.
In ancient India ayuruvedic medicine uses honey for many purposes.
According to the Ayruveda classic Ashtanga Hridaya, written about 500
AD honey can be used against many diseases, e.g. healing and cleaning
wounds, against different internal and external infections
72

Preparation of honey medicine from Materia
Medica, Dioscorides, Arab translation 1224
The ancient Greeks considered honey as medicine and believed that if bee
honey is taken regularly human life could be prolonged. Early thinkers
such as Homer, Pythagoras, Ovid, Democritus, Hippocrates and Aristotle
mentioned that people should eat honey to preserve their health and
vigour. Dioscorides, in the first century AD (see picture to the left) used
honey for treating wounds
75

Honey was the most useful substance used in old Roman pharmacopoeia.
Pliny writes that it is good for afflictions of the mouth, pneumonia,
pleurisy and snake bites
65

The wise Solomon praises the virtues of honey in the old testament. The
Koran says thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees and
in (men's) habitations..... there issues from within their bodies a drink of
varying colours, wherein is healing for mankind (Quran 16:68-69).
The ancient Maya civilisations used Melipona (stingless bee) honey in the
treatment of cataracts
65

Today the knowledge on the healing virtues of honey and the other bee
product is called apitherapy is compiled in many books or on the Internet
www.apitherapy.com, www.apitherapy.org


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 98
HONEY IN TRADITIONAL MEDICINE
Honey in traditional Chinese medicine
Honey was mentioned as medicine by Shen Nang, some 2000 BC. In the 52 prescription book,. 3th
century BC includes a prescription including honey. According to Chinese medicine honey has a balanced
character (neither Yin nor Yang) and acts according to the principles of the Earth element, entering the lung,
spleen and large intestine channels. There are many original prescriptions and medical indications which
contain honey
119

Christopher Gussa a TCM practioneer writes on www.naturalnews.com :
Honey is known as Feng Mi and has the ability to nourish yin energy and strengthen the spleen. Apart from
its widely recognized nutritional value, honey is also the Chinese people's favorite as a "neutral" food with
medicinal properties. In the "Compendium of Materia Medica," the TCM classic by pharmacist Li Shizhen in
the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), "Honey can help dispel pathogenic heat, clear away toxins, relieve pain and
combat dehydration." Li Shizhen showed that eating honey regularly resulted in clear sight and rosy cheeks.
He also wrote that eating honey every morning can help prevent constipation and it is a good choice for those
who suffer chronic coughing.
TCM also shows that due to honey's affinity for the stomach and spleen it can greatly enhance the effect of
many of the super-tonics such as He Shou Wu
According to the Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine honey has following properties
balanced, sweet, non-toxic. Enters the lung, spleen and the large intestine meridian channels.
Supllements the center and moistens the lung. Relieves pain and resolves toxin..Treats cough due to
lung dryness; constipation due to dryness of the intestines; stomach pain; deep source nasal congestion,
mouth sores, scalds and burns
21

Sui Wan summirises: Honey has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine to treat many diseases for more
than two thousands years. In Traditional Chinese Medication, honey is a combination used with bee venom,
propolis, royal jelly, pollen and other herbal medications in medical treatment. In addition, the following
diseases are good indications for using honey. I) Infectious Diseases: Bacterial Infections: A. Infections
caused by gram-positive bacteria, e.g. Streptococcal infections- Pharyngitis, Enterococcal infections,
Pneumococcal infections; Staphyloccus Aureus infections, B. Infections caused by gram-negative bacteria,
e.g. Meningococcal infections- Meningococcal meningitis., Salmonellae infections-Typhoid fever,
Salmonella Gastro-enteritis., Shigella infections-Shigella dysentery. II) Gastrointestinal Diseases: A.
Gastritis, B. Peptic ulcer Disease, C. Celiac Disease, D. Antibiotic-Associated Colitis. E. Inflammatory
Bowel Diseases. III) Allergic and Immunologic Disorders: A. Allergic Rhinitis B. Rheumatoid arthritis, C.
Systemic Lupus Erythematous(SLE), D. Ankylosing spondylitis, E. Multiple Sclerosis. IV) Traumatic
wounds: traumatic and surgical wounds managements
122

Honey in Ayurveda Medicine
Honey has a long tradition in traditional ayurveda medicine. This topic has been reviewed by
110

According to D Ramanathan, director of the Sitaram Ayurveda Pharmacy Limited & Specialty Hospital,
Thrissur on the role honey plays in ayurvedic treatment: Honey known as madhu in ayurvedic scriptures is
one of the most important medicines used in ayurveda. In ayurveda, honey is used for both internal and
external applications. It is mainly used for the treatment of eye diseases, cough, thirst, phlegm, hiccups,
blood in vomit, leprosy, diabetes, obesity, worm infestation, vomiting, asthma, diarrhoea and healing
wounds. It is also used as a natural preservative and sweetener in many ayurvedic preparations. It is also
used as a vehicle along with some medicines to improve its efficacy or to mitigate the side effects of the
other medicines it is mixed with. It is also known to mitigate the increased kapha dosha. (Kapha dosha is the
ayurvedic category for body constitutions- those with kapha dosha are of larger proportions with robust
frame.) It should also be kept in mind that fresh honey helps to increase body mass while old honey produces
constipation and decreases body mass. Honey should not be heated or consumed warm as it causes toxic
effect. Cold honey should always be preferred.
According to ayurveda, there are eight different types of honey:
1.Makshikam: Used in the treatment of eye diseases, hepatitis, piles, asthma, cough and tuberculosis
2.Bhraamaram: Used in the treatment when blood is vomited

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 99
3.Kshoudram: Used in the treatment of diabetes
4.Pauthikam: Used in the treatment of diabetes and urinary infection
5.Chathram: Used in the treatment of worm infestation, when blood is vomited and diabetes
6.Aardhyam: Effective for eye diseases, cough and anaemia
7.Ouddalakam: Increases taste and swarasudhi.Used in the treatment of leprosy and poisoning cases
8.Daalam: It increases digestion and helps in the treatment of cough, vomiting and diabetes.
(The gathering of these honeys in described in
110
)
We prescribe a particular brand called Samskritha Madhu (which means cultured or purified honey) which is
made by most of the authentic ayurvedic Manufacturing units as per the ayurvedic scriptures. In ayurveda,
what is the bee species that is most preferred- are they are Italian species (that are kept in boxes) or Indian
species (that are found in the wild). As far as Ayurveda is concerned our acharyas who made this system of
medicine utilized Indian honey and tested the wild honey, hence any ayurvedic physician will prefer the
Indian honey wild honey
Honey in folk and traditional medicine
A traditional medicine branch, called apitherapy, has developed in recent years, offering treatments based on
honey and the other bee products against many diseases. The knowledge on this subject is compiled in
various books e.g.
31, 70, 108
or on relevant web pages such as www.apitherapy.com, www.apitherapy.org
Unifloral honey in practical apitherapy after
30

Honey type Applications
Acacia, liquid and mild; Sweetener for people with Diabetis Type II. Improved digestions. Applied at
diseases of stomach, intestines, liver and kidney
Buckwheat, dark and strong High antioxidant activity, improves digestions, to be taken by pregnant women
and when nursing
Eucalyptus, dark and strong Against infections and diseases of respiratory organs and urinary passages.
Increases immunity
Calluna, dark and strong High antioxidant activity. Invigorating at fagigue and convalesence; against
problems with kidney urinary bladder
Chestnut, dark and strong Improves blood circulation; against anemia and infactions of kidney urinary
bladder
Clover, light und mild sedative
Lavendel, aromatic Treatment of wounds, burns, insect stings, infections or respiritory organs and
depressions
Linden, strong, aromatic Diaphoretic, diuretic, palliative, apetising; against cold, flu, cough, sinusitis,
headache, sleeplessness and anxiety.
Manuka, Dark and strong High antibacterial activity, against infections and for wound healing
Dandelion, aromatic Hemo-protective, against gastric, intestine, liver, kidney and gall bladder diseases
Citrus, light and mild Against indigestion and sleeplessness
Rape, mild Sedative, relaxing
Rosmarine, mild Hemo-protective; against gastric, intestine, liver diseases
Sunflower, mild spasmolytic in asthma cases, gastric, intestine colic
Fir, honeydew, dark and strong High antioxidant activity. Against infections of respiritory organs
Thyme. dark and strong Against infections of respiratory organs; wound treatment

Unifloral honeys are used in folk medicine for different purposes. The applications given in the
table below remain to be confirmed by experimental science. Indeed, in most scientifically
conducted clinical studies the botanical origin of the honey was not determined. On the other hand,
the antibacterial and the antioxidant activity of honey depends strongly on the botanical origin.
Health enhancing effects of different unifloral honey have been claimed in different practical
apitherapy books, e.g.
32, 89, 100
. The table below has been compiled from them. At present there is
no scientific explanation of many of the claimed effects.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 100
HONEY AND WOUND CARE: AN OVERVIEW
By Keith Cutting, with some additions by S. Bogdanov
After Ostomy Wound Management
43
,
History
Until the first part of the 20th century, honey dressings were part of everyday wound care practice. With the
advent of antibiotics in the 1930s and 1940s, views changed and honey was consigned to items of historical
interest. Misuse of antibiotics, the emergence of resistant bacteria, and increasing interest in therapeutic
honey have provided an opportunity for honey to be re-established as a broad-spectrum, antibacterial agent
that is non-toxic to human tissue.
Despite lack of promotional support from large corporations, interest in the use of honey in wound
management has increased in recent years. However, a clinical profile in wound care commensurate with
other modalities has not been achieved despite offering similar indications of use and an increase in research
activity and clinical reports. It is observed that The therapeutic potential of uncontaminated, pure honey is
grossly underutilized
141

Clinicians need reassurance that any health-related agent is safe and meets its stated therapeutic purpose.
Therefore, it is important to emphasize that although natural in origin, the honey used in wound care should
be of medical-grade standard and not sourced from honey destined for the supermarket shelf. Medical grade
honey is filtered, gamma-irradiated, and produced under carefully controlled standards of hygiene to ensure
that a standardized honey is produced
136

Therapeutic benefit of honey in wound care
The therapeutic properties of honey are variable and depend on the type of honey used
85
. Manuka (the
Maori name for the New Zealand tea tree/bush Leptospermum scoparium) or Leptospermum is honey
derived from the tea tree; the former is the more widely used term. In a review of the literature, Moore
showed that Manuka honey has very special healing properties and described it as the best natural
antibiotic in the world
92
.
Medical grade Manuka honey is prepared purely for medical use and controlled by a rigorous set of systems
and standards. These exacting standards apply to the leptospermum honey distributed in US (Medihoney,
Derma Sciences, Princeton, NJ). This product is a blend of L. scoparium (Manuka) and L. polygalifolium
know as Jelly Bush.
A systematic review
92
of honey as a wound dressing noting the dearth of good evidence on topical wound
agents contradicts Molans literature review
87
of the evidence (17 randomized, controlled trials involving
1,965 participants and five clinical trials involving 97 participants, plus numerous case studies) supports
the use of honey as a wound dressing and underscores clinician failure to recognize that evidence. Molans
research reviews also addressed the range of honeys therapeutic activities
89
:
Bioactivity of honey Suggested Rationale
Prevention of cross-contamination Viscosity of honey provides a protective barrier
Provides a moist wound healing environment Osmolarity draws fluid from underlying tissues
Dressings do not adhere to wound surface.
Tissue does not grow into dressings
The viscous nature of honey provides an interface between wound
bed and dressing
Promotes drainage from wound Osmotic outflow sluices the wound bed
Removes malodor Bacterial preference for sugar instead of protein (amino acids)
means lactic acid is produced in place of malodorous compounds
Promotes autolytic debridement Facilitates the autolytic action of proteases
Stimulates healing Bio-active effect of honey
Anti-inflammatory

Number of inflammatory cells reduced in honey-treated wounds
Prevention of inflammation by honey flavonoids
80

Managing infection Antiseptic properties found to be effective against a range of
microbes including multi-resistant strains
Increases immune reaction Effect of lipopolysacharides and apalbumine 1 and 2
55

Promotes pain relief and epitelisation Analgetic effect of honey
78

Regulates oxidative stress in the wound Inhibition of reactive oxygen species production by activating
polymorphonuclear neutrophils
132



Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 101
Wound bed preparation
Wound bed preparation may be viewed as management of the wound in order to accelerate endogenous
healing
89
. The bio-activity of honey aligns closely with the concept of wound bed preparation. The
physiology of healing in acute wounds is a carefully controlled series of events that ensures healing
progresses in a timely fashion. However, in chronic wounds this orderly sequence is disrupted and the repair
process is delayed. If wound bed preparation is to be successful, the impediments to healing must be
recognized and addressed, implying appropriate management of exudate, devitalized tissue, and associated
bioburden. The appropriate application of honey dressings offers a way forward in managing potential
wound-related barriers to healing.
Exudate
A clinical study by Al-Waili and Saloom
10
compared honey with topical antiseptics in 50 patients with
postoperative abdominal wound infections; Ahmed et al's
6
non-randomizes study of 60 patients with
chronic surgical or trauma wounds; and Betts and Molans
28
in vivo pilot study reported that honey helps
reduce the amount of wound exudate. This is most likely a consequence of honeys anti-inflammatory
properties. Inflammation increased vessel permeability increases fluid movement into soft tissue,
subsequently increasing surface exudate. A decrease in inflammatory cells has been found (histologically) in
animal models following application of honey in full-thickness burns. Similar findings
107
have been reported
in animal studies comparing ampicillin and nitrofuazone in treating infection of full-thickness wounds
73, 100
.
The anti-inflammatory activity of honey also has been documented in clinical studies of human burn wounds
and in in vitro studies
127-129
. The potential consequences of effectively managing inflammation include
rapid reduction of pain, edema, and exudate; additionally, hypertrophic scarring is minimized by avoiding
protracted inflammation that may result in fibrosis
90
. It follows that reducing inflammation lessens exudate
production and dressing change frequency, which may conserve resources in terms of dressings used, staff
time, and unnecessary disturbance of the patient and the wound bed.
Devitalized tissue
It has been established that dressings that create the type of moist wound environment that honey provides
facilitate the process of autolytic debridement. The osmotic pull of honey draws lymph from the deeper
tissues and constantly bathes the wound bed. Lymph fluid contains proteases that contribute to the debriding
activity of honey. In addition, the constant sluicing of the wound bed is believed to help remove foreign body
(e g, dirt and grit) contamination
90
. Molan
86
has suggested the most likely explanation for honeys debriding
activity involves the conversion of inactive plasminogen to plasmin, an enzyme that breaks down the fibrin
that tethers slough and eschar to the wound bed. Stephen-Haynes
126


who presented the results of three
patient case studies and an additional five patients who benefited from management of wound malodor,
attests to the clinical impact of honey in debridement. Malodor is known to occur in a variety of wounds in
conjunction with slough and necrotic tissue; it is a particular concern when managing fungating lesions.
Malodorous substances such as ammonia and sulphur compounds are produced when bacteria metabolize
protein. Because honey provides bacteria an alternative source of energy (glucose), these noxious
compounds are no longer produced and wound malodor is avoided.
Maceration
Macerated periwound skin can be a problem in some wounds and is often related to the dressing used
42
. The
osmotic action of honey, previously mentioned, has been shown in previous reviews of the literature to
reduce the risk of maceration honey draws moisture rather than donates it
90
. Thus, periwound skin is
protected from overhydration.
Bioburden
Honey has been shown in clinical observations to have the ability to manage wound infection in situations
where conventional antimicrobial (antibiotics/antiseptics) have failed
49, 51, 137
. Honey also has been found to
be effective in vitro against a range of multiresistant organisms including methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), and other multiresistant Gram-
negative organisms including Pseudomonas aeruginosa
56
. Other in vitro studies involving different micro-
organisms also have demonstrated honeys effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant bacteria
40, 69
. George and
Cutting specifically identified honeys antibacterial activity
56
. The binding of water can be added to these
antibacterial properties:
The high sugar content/low water activity provides osmotic action
Acidic pH (3.2 to 4.5) inhibits bacterial growth
Glucose oxidase enzyme helps produce hydrogen peroxide
Plant-derived factors (present in some honeys and not specifically identified).

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 102
The antibacterial action most likely reaches below the wound surface. Although topical honey manages
superficial bacteria (bactericidal in action rather than bacteriostatic)
40, 133
it also has been shown in vitro to
provide prompt clearance of deep-seated infection and boils with unbroken skin, suggesting that honeys
antibacterial activity may diffuse through the skin to deeper tissues. Cooper et al
40
performed sensitivity
testing of 17 strains of P. aeruginosa isolated from infected burns using two honeys with different types of
antibacterial activity; Wahdan
133
compared the antibacterial activity of a sugar solution and honey on 21
types of bacteria and two types of fungi.
Some commercial honey preparations used in wound healing

Medihoney for wound care

Antibacterial wound gel

Moistering cream agains
eczemas

Medihoney wound gauze

Wound-healing creams

Wound dressing with
Medihoney gauze
Biofilms
In recent years, attention has turned to the potential role of biofilms in wound infection. A biofilm may be
described as a bacterial community living within a self- produced extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) matrix.
The EPS protects the bacterial community from antimicrobial and phagocytic onslaught. Lately, in vitro
evidence has indicated that honey is an effective agent for preventing biofilm formation. In an in vitro study
it was found that laboratory-grown Pseudomonal biofilms were disrupted following application of Manuka
honey
63
. These findings are particularly encouraging when considering the emergence of antimicrobial-
resistant bacteria. No evidence has yet been presented that bacterial resistance to honey has occurred it is
highly unlikely that bacteria will select for resistance to honey because bacteria rely on sugar as a source of
food.
Cross-contamination
Use of honey dressings may help prevent cross contamination. This is and will remain an important issue in
healthcare. The viscous nature of honey is believed to provide a physical barrier that helps safeguard patients
by preventing cross contamination.
Dressing wounds with honey
All dressings must be used in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. This helps endorse the maxim
do no harm and ensure that the full benefit of the product is realized.
Because of its fluid and viscous nature, honey can be difficult to apply. This is particularly true when profuse
exudate is present, diluting the honey. Experience has shown that use of the appropriate honey vehicle,
including a secondary dressing, can sometimes circumvent this problem:

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 103
Honey liquid or gel dispensed from a tube: Applied directly onto wound or onto appropriate dressing
before application
Absorbent alginate dressing with honey: Can be applied to most acute/chronic wounds including
infected or sloughy wounds
Honey in a hydrocolloid-like sheet: Should be selected according to the exudate level of the wound
Allergy
Before honey is applied to a wound, the patient should be asked routinely if he/she is allergic to honey or bee
products, including bee stings. It is advisable not to proceed with a honey-containing dressing if the answer
is affirmative.
Discomfort
Occasionally, some patients report transient stinging on application of honey. The discomfort often
disappears in a short period of time or after the first few applications. Analgesia is required only in those rare
circumstances when pain may persist. In a review paper, Molan5 noted that patient response to honey
applied to open wounds was reported as soothing, pain-relieving, and non-irritating, and demonstrated no
adverse effects
87

Conclusion
The resurgence of interest in honey as a modern wound dressing offers opportunities for both patients and
clinicians. Recent additions to the honey product range of dressings indicate commercial confidence in the
future of therapeutic honey. The wheel has turned full circle and honey is being re-established as a valuable
agent in modern wound care management. Its advantages providing a moist environment, debriding,
deodorizing, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory capabilities are factors that have been shown to facilitate
healing. These advantages have been experienced by patients and clinicians in Europe and Australia and are
now available to patients in North America. Use of any medical device must be based on clinical justification
and available evidence about product safety and effectiveness. Continued research is needed to increase our
understanding about the role of honey in a variety of wounds and its effect on healing compared to other
treatment modalities.
HONEY FOR WOUND HEALING UNDER HOME CONDITIONS
Besides scientifically based use of honey in wound care in hospitals (see next section), honey can also be
used under home conditions, as it was used for many centuries. Although sterilised honey is only used in
hospitals, raw honey can also be used under home conditions without any risk, as no adverse effects have
been reported. Indeed, Prof. Descotte lectured in several Apitherapy conferences that his team has used raw
honey routinely for wound care in hundreds of cases in the hospital of Limoge, France
47

Honey applied in wound healing in a Swiss hospital

Wound at the treatment beginning
A painful and infected wound on the left leg. The fracture was
stabilised with plates and screws. After several operations the
blood circulation of the leg was diminished and sores were built
because of the prolonged bed lying.
The wound treatment with conventional means was not successful.
The patient agreed to make a honey treatment.



After only 5 days of treatment the wound condition was
significantly improved. New tissues were built and the bacterial
inflammation has diminished significantly

After two months the wound was completely closed. The cicatrise
is almost invisible and he skin is healthy, tender and elastic at the
same time.

photos and comment by Kathrin Rieder, Switzerland, application
see below

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 104
.Application of honey for wound healing under home conditions, after
30

It is not necessary to disinfect wound because honey will disinfect it
1. Apply honey as much honey on a gauze or clean cotton cloth as it is necessary to cover wound fully.
Gauze and cloth need not be sterile.
2. Abscesses, cavity or deep wounds need more honey to adequately penetrate deep into the wound tissues.
The wound bed should be filled with honey before applying the honey dressing pad.
3. Change bandage once a day. When doing it, wound need not be cleaned from honey. Honey is
dissolved in the wound or sticks to the gauze.
4. When changing the bandage remove hornification at the border of the wound with a pincette. This can be
done under running water or with a soft tooth brush. Cell debris, which were not removed will not
disturb healing process.
5. After cleaning, wound should be padded with as much gauze as is needed for drawing the wound liquid.
6. If wound is infected by yeast or it heals badly, a mixture of honey-betadine 1:1 can be used.

The applications of honey in wound and burn healing have been treated in different reviews, the recent ones
being:
14, 32, 33, 45, 66, 67, 77, 114


Honey against eye diseases
Since ancient times honey has been used for the treatment of eye disorders. This topic is reviewed by Molan,
2001, see there the original references
89
: Aristotle has written in his Historia Animalium that honey is good
as a salve for sore eyes. It has also been used by traditional Indian medicine and in Mali. In the Rangarya
Medical College of India it has been used to treat corneal eye ulcers, treatments of plepharitis (inflammation
of he eye-lids) catarrhal conjunctivitis and keratitits. Honey is also successful in various ailments of the
cornea. The use of honey in Russia has been reviewed: undiluted or 20-50 % water solutions being being
applied to the eye under the lower eye lid against chemical and thermal burns of the eye, conjunctivitis and
infections of the cornea. The healing effect of honey is explained by its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and
antifungal actions of honey.
There are reports on the successful treatment by honey of keratitis, conjunctivitis and blepharitis in Egypt
53
.
The positive effect in keratitis to reducing the levels of angiogenic factors (VEGF and TGF-beta),
inflammatory cytokines (IL-12) and chemokines (CC chemokine receptor 5(CCR-5)
131

Another explanation of the healing effect of honey in eye diseases is a irritation effect, triggering healing
processes of the eye
19
. Stingless bee honey has been traditionally used by the Mayas against cataract
108
.
ORAL HEALTH
There is much debate whether honey is harmful to teeth. Some reports show a
cariogenic effect of honey
34, 117
, while others claim that the effect of honey is
less cariogenic effect that sucrose
46

38
. Due to its antibacterial activity honey
ingestion inhibits the growth of bacteria, that cause caries
88, 125
and might
have a carioprotective effect
50, 116
. It was shown to have an anti-plaque effect
in vitro and in-vivo (tests with volunteers)
22
It was also shown that Manuca
honey, a very potent antimicrobial honey, has a positive effect against dental
plaque development and gingivitis and thus can be used in the place of refined sugar in the manufacture of
candy
88
.
According to electron microscopic studies ingestion of honey does not cause erosion of tooth enamel as
observed after drinking of fruit juice (pH 3.5). Ten minutes after consumption of fruit juice tooth erosion
was seen, while 30 minutes after honey ingestion the erosion was only very weak. This effect can be
explained only partially by the calcium, phosphorous and fluoride levels of honey, other colloidal honey
components have to be also responsible
58
.
Stomatitis and other oral lesions
Stomatitis is inflammation of the mouth mucose. Aphthous stomatitis, as well as as other oral lesions like
recurrent herpes labialis, recurrent intraoral herpes, atrophic/erosive oral lichen planus, oral candidiasis and
oral psoriasis can be successfully treated with honey. Honey significantly speeded resolution of the

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 105
inflammatory and ulcerative oral lesions. It significantly lowered the pain ensation and reduced the duration
of some lesions and increased the number of pain free days
52
.
To treat the conditions listed above, smear the individual ulcers, boils or aphthae with honey - or simply
trickle a good spoonful of honey in your mouth and then swirl it around the mouth, in order to reach as many
sores as possible. (It will become runny, but honey does penetrate the tissues very quickly; and it seems it is
precisely when diluted that its curative power is activated.)
1

Against halitosis (malodour)
Manuka and acacia honey have been successfully used against halitosis (malodour)
118

Summarising the different findings, it can be concluded that honey is probably not as cariogenic as other
sugars and in some cases can be also carioprotective, especially when strong antibacterial honey is
ingested. However, for safety reasons, after consumption of honey it is advised to clean the teeth.
OTHER EXTERNAL APPLICATIONS
Besides the application in wounds and burns honey has also other external applications:
Against catheter infection
Topical medihoney can be successfully use against catheter infections
64

Against virus action on lips and genitals
13
:
Apply honey on gauze auf critical point and change once a day
Against boils and furuncles
Mix liquid honey and flour 1:1, add a little water and brush with it affected area. Cover with gauze and
leave it overnight.
Against muscle cramps
Cover affected area with honey, cover with gauze or cloth and fix it with adhesive plaster. Ev. cover with a
warm wool cloth. Leave at least 2 hours.
Against bruises and contusions
Mix honey and olive oil 1:1 and cover with mixture affected area. Cover with gauze and leave for 4-6 hours.
Enhances post tonsilitis inflammation healing
Tualang honey from Malaysia enhances post tonsilitis inflammation healing process
76


SIDE EFFECTS OF CANCER TREATMENTS
Most of the cancer research has been done in animal models (see chapter 7). The use of honey in clinical
cancer treatments has been reviewed in 2008 by Bardy
25
and in 2009 by Orsolic
99

The first reported use of honey in oncology patients was the topical application of household honey to 12
patients with wound breakdown following radical excision of vulval carcinoma. Clearance of infection was
observed within 3-6 days, and improved healing rates were recorded
36
. In a report from the Russian
Academy of Medical Science, patients with uterine cancer undergoing radiotherapy and treated with honey
laminolact showed a significant decrease in the severity of radiation-induced intestinal morbidity
124

Honey treatment for prevention of oral mucositis
This topic has been reviewed in 2008 by Bardy. It has been pointed out that honey may be used for
radiation-induced mucositis, radiotherapy-induced skin reactions, hand and foot skin reactions in
chemotherapy patients and for oral cavity and external surgical wounds
25
.
Bardy et al tested the effect of active manuka honey on radiation-induced mucositis. A total of 131 patients
diagnosed with head and neck cancer who were having radiotherapy to the oral cavity or oropharyngeal area
were recruited into the study, and were randomly allocated to take either manuka honey or placebo (golden
syrup) 20 ml 4 times daily for 6 weeks. Mucositis was assessed according to the Radiation Therapy
Oncology Group (RTOG) scale at baseline, weekly during radiotherapy, and twice weekly thereafter until
the mucositis resolved. The patient's weight was recorded at the same time as the mucositis was assessed.
Throat swabs to identify bacterial or fungal infections were taken at baseline, and during and after

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 106
radiotherapy. There was no significant difference between honey and golden syrup in their effects on
mucositis. Active manuka honey did not improve mucositis, but both the honey and the syrup seemed to be
associated with a reduction in bacterial infections. Compliance was a problem after the onset of mucositis,
which may have affected the findings
26
.
Honey has a supportive effect on human patients who have undergone a cancer radiation therapy, decreasing
radiation mucositis. Patients with head and neck cancer treated with radiation therapy were given honey.
There was a significant reduction in the symptomatic grade 3/4 mucositis among honey-treated patients
compared to controls; i.e. 20 versus 75%. The compliance of honey-treated group of patients was better than
controls. Fifty-five percent of patients treated with topical honey showed no change or a positive gain in
body weight compared to 25% in the control arm, the majority of whom lost weight
29
.
Patients with head and neck cancer treated with radiation therapy were given honey. There was a significant
reduction in the symptomatic grade 3/4 mucositis among honey-treated patients compared to controls; i.e. 20
versus 75%. The compliance of honey-treated group of patients was better than controls. Fifty-five percent
of patients treated with topical honey showed no change or a positive gain in body weight compared to 25%
in the control arm, the majority of whom lost weight
29
.
A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted on 90 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and
oral mucositis grades 2 and 3. The mean age of enrolled patients was 6.9 years. The patients were assigned
into 3 equal treatment groups: Honey, HOPE (honey, olive-oil propolis), and control groups. Recovery time
in grade 2 mucositis was significantly reduced in the honey group as compared with either HOPE or controls
(P < .05). In grade 3 mucositis, recovery time did not differ significantly between honey and HOPE (P =
0.61) but compared with controls, healing was faster with either honey or HOPE (P < .01). Generally, in
both grades of mucositis, honey produced faster healing than either HOPE or controls (P < .05). Based on
our results that showed that honey produced faster healing in patients with grade 2/3 chemotherapy-induced
mucositis, we recommend using honey and possibly other bee products and olive oil in future therapeutic
trials targeting chemotherapy-induced mucositis
3

Honey reduces chemoradiotherapy-induced mucositis in pediatric cancer patients
7

Pediatric oncology
In paediatric oncology patients, the immune system is often suppressed by cytotoxic antineoplastic agents or
radiation therapy and wound healing is impaired. In the Department of Paediatric Oncology at the Childrens
Hospital in the University of Bonn, Medihoney has become a readily accepted treatment with a positive
impact on patient and parent satisfaction
120
.
Honey and chemotherapeutic drugs in combined supportive therapy
This use of honey has been reviewed
81
. Honey has been used to support chemotherapeutic action and reduce
its side effects in myelosuppression, neutropenia etc.

Side effects of treatments of other cancers
Febrile neutropenia is a serious side effect of chemotherapy. Honey was administered to chemotherapy
patients with neutropenia and was found that it reduced the need for colony-stimulating factors
140
.
Therefore, the use of honey gauzes can be considered for the treatment of radiotherapy-induced dermatitis
by radiotherapy of breast cancer patients
91

Topical application of honey can be used for the management of hhemotherapy induced oral stomatitis
84

The antitumor activity of honey can be explained by the antibacterial, antiinflammatory,
immunodmodulating, anti-oxidant and probiotic effects of honey.
HONEY IN GASTROENTEROLOGY
According to the Muslim holy book The Holy Hadith, dating back to the 8 th century AD the prophet
Mohamed recommended honey against diarrhoea
11
. Also, the Roman physician Celsus (ca. 25 AD) used
honey as a cure for diarrhoea
37
. The use of honey for prevention and treatments of gastro-intestinal disorders

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 107
such as peptic ulcers, gastritis, gastroenteritis has been reported in various books and publications from
Eastern Europe
71, 79, 83, 123
and from Arab countries
115
The applications of honey in traditional and modern
medicine were reviewed in 2010
1

Ulcers and Gastritis
Honey is a potent inhibitor of the causing agent of peptic ulcers and gastritis, Helicobacter pylori
8, 20, 81, 101

In rats honey acted against experimentally induced gastric ulcers
17, 19, 57, 68
.
Honey is not involved on prostaglandin production, but has a stimulatory effect on the sensory nerves in the
stomach that respond to capsaicin
9, 15
. As a second mechanism of action has been postulated that this effect
is due to the antioxidant properties of honey. Honey intake in rats prevented indomethacin-induced gastric
lesions in rats by reducing the ulcer index, microvascular permeability and myeloperoxidase activity of the
stomach
95
. In addition, honey has been found to maintain the level of non-protein sulfhydryl compounds
(e.g. glutathione) in gastric tissue subjected to factors inducing ulceration
9, 15, 18
. A third mechanism of the
gastroprotective effect of honey has been suggested by Beretta et al. It involves the salivary reduction of
nitrate (NO3-) to nitrite (NO2-) and the intragastric formation of nitric oxide (NO), the latter involved in the
preservation of the gastric mucosa capillaries and in boosting mucous production. Honeys contained NO2
and NO3, the concentration in honeydew honeys being higher than that of blossom honeys
27

Ingestion of dandelion honey was shown to reduce gastric juice acidity by 56%
24
. The gastric emptying of
saccharides after ingestion of honey was slower than that of a mixture of glucose and fructose
106

The effect of honey under clinical condition on more than 40 gastric ulcer patients was studied in a Russian
hospital. Control treatments were with water. It was found that ingestion of 120 ml of 33 % honey solution
by gastric ulcer patiens improves the micro capillary blood circulation, which can beneficially influence the
gastric ulcers. Ingestion of 120 ml of 33 % honey warm honey solution decreases the acidity of the gastric
juice, while the ingestion of the same amount and concentration of a cold honey solution increased the
acidity of the gastric juice. The sleep of the gastric ulcer patients was also improved by ingestion of 50 g
honey before sleep. In order to decrease gastric juice acidity the author recommends the intake of warm
honey solution 40 to 60 minutes before eating. The function of the gall bladder is improved by the ingestion
of cool solution of 100 ml 50 % honey (13-15
0
C ) The author concludes that ingestion of warm honey ev. in
combination with propolis ingestion, is a good way to treat gastric ulcers
48
.
There are reports on healing of patients of suffering from gastritis, duodenitis and duodenal ulcers by intake
of 30 ml of honey
115
.
Clinical and animal studies have shown that honey reduces the secretion of gastric acid. Additionally, gastric
ulcers have been successfully treated by the use of honey as a dietary supplement. An 80% recovery rate of
600 gastric ulcer patients treated with oral administration of honey has been reported. Radiological
examination showed that ulcers disappeared in 59% of patients receiving honey
68
.
Laxative effect against constipation
In certain cases, consumption of relatively large amounts of honey (50 to 100 g) can lead to a mild laxative
effect in individual with insufficient absorption of honey fructose
74
. Fructose is less readily absorbed in the
intestinal tract than fructose together with glucose
113
. The mild laxative properties of honey are used for the
treatment of constipation in Eastern Europe, China and the Near East. However one should not give honey
against constipation of infants younger than 1 year old because of the children botulism risk.
Against acute gastroenteritis in children
A clinical study of honey treatment in infantile gastroenteritis was reported by Haffejee and Moosa. They
found that by replacing the glucose (111 mmol/l) in the standard electrolyte-containing oral rehydration
solution recommended by the World Health Organisation/UNICEF as well as the solution of electrolyte
composition 48 mmol/ l sodium, 28 mmol/l potassium, 76 mmol/l chloride ions, with 50 ml/l honey (29), the
mean recovery times of patients (aged 8 days to 11 years) were significantly reduced. Honey was found to
shorten the duration of diarrhoea in patients with bacterial gastroenteritis caused by organisms such as
Salmonella, Shigella and E. coli. They recommended that honey was a safe substitute for glucose as long as
it provided 111 mmol/l each of glucose and fructose. The high sugar content of honey means that it could be
used to promote sodium and water absorption from the bowel
59
.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 108
In a later clinical trial in Egypt, honey added to oral rehydration solution promoted rehydration of the body
and sped recovery from vomiting and diarrhea
2

Against alcohol abuse
Animal experiments have shown that the administration of a honey solution via a tube in the stomach of
rabbits prior to them being administered with 0.5 g ethanol per kg body weight, accelerated alcoholic
oxidation. Honey administered subcutaneously or orally before oral administration of ethanol affords
protection against gastric damage and reverses changes in pH induced by ethanol
16

A controlled clinical trial demonstrated the use of fructose in the treatment of acute alcoholic intoxication. A
small but significant increase occurred in the rate of fall of blood-ethanol levels and it was concluded that
fructose may be beneficial in shortening the duration of alcoholic intoxication
35
.
Positive effects of honey on ethanol intoxication such as disappearance in blood increase and of ethanol
elimination rate has also been confirmed in studies with humans
97, 98
.
Ingestion of both honey (2 g/kg body weight) and fructose, prevented the ethanol-induced transformation of
erythrocytes of mice
139

Hepatitis and liver health
A positive effect of honey on hepatitis A patients was found after ingestion of clover and rape honey,
causing a decrease of alanine aminotranferase activity (by 9 to 13 times) and of bilirubin production by 2.1
to 2.6 times
24
.
Honey and digestion
Supplementation of honey in concentration of 2, 4, 6 and 8 g/100 g to protein fed to rats improved the
protein and lipid digestibility
121
.
The anti gastric ulcer and anti-gastritis effect of honey can be explained by its antibacterial and anti-
inflammatory action, as well as with its inhibitory effect on the acidity of the gastric juice. The positive
effect of honey on nutrition function is also due to its prebiotic effect.
CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
The effects of ingestion of 75 g of natural honey by humans compared to the same amount of artificial
honey (fructose plus glucose) or glucose on plasma glucose, plasma insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides (TG),
blood lipids, C-reactive proteins and homocysteine, most of them being risk factors for cardiovascular
diseases were studied in humans. Elevation of insulin and C-reactive protein was significantly higher after
dextrose than after honey.
Dextrose reduced cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C). Artificial honey slightly
decreased cholesterol and LDL-C and elevated TG. Honey reduced cholesterol, LDL-C, and TG and slightly
elevated high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C). In patients with hyperlipidemia, artificial honey
increased LDL-C, while honey decreased LDL-C
12
.
A similar study has been recently carried out in normal and overweight persons carrying a higher risk for a
cardiovascular disease. These patients were given 70 g honey for 30 days. Results showed that honey caused
a mild reduction in body weight (1.3%) and body fat (1.1%). Honey reduced total cholesterol (3%), LDL-C
(5.8), triacylglycerole (11%), FBG (4.2%), and CRP (3.2%), and increased HDL-C (3.3%) in subjects with
normal values, while in patients with elevated variables, honey caused reduction in total cholesterol by
3.3%, LDL-C by 4.3%, triacylglycerole by 19%, and CRP by 3.3% (p < 0.05). The conclusion of the authors
is that consumption of natural honey reduces cardiovascular risk factors, particularly in subjects with
elevated risk factors, and it does not increase body weight in overweight or obese subjects
138
. Honey
decreases also platelet aggregation and blood coagulation
5

The above cited studies suggest small effects of honey on arteriosclerosis risk factors such as cholesterol,
LDL-c and TG, the first studies being carried out with only 9 patients.
In a study with 30 persons and 30 controls it was shown that no significant decrease of cholesterol HDL and
TG was encountered after ingestion of 75 g honey daily for a period of 14 days. While there were no effects

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 109
in men, in women HDL values were increased in the controls having ingested sucrose, while in the honey
group no increase was encountered, pointing out that honey has a positive effects in women
94

The effect of honey intake on the blood risk factors was tested in diabetes 2 patients (controls with no
intake). Body weight, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and triglyceride decreased, while
and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol ratio increased significantly
23
.
Honey can contain nitric oxide (NO) metabolites which are known cardiovascular disease risk indicators.
Increased levels of nitric oxides in honey could have a protecting function in cardiovascular diseases. Total
nitrite concentration in different biological fluids from humans, including saliva, plasma, and urine was
measured after ingestion by humans of 80 g of honey. Salivary, plasma and urinary NO metabolites
concentrations showed a tendency to increase
11, 13
. Different honey types contained various concentrations
of NO metabolites, darker or fresh honeys containing more NO metabolites than light or stored honey. After
heating, NO metabolites decreased in all the kinds of honey
11, 13
.
The cardiovascular effects of honey can be explained by its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
effects.
HONEY AGAINST COUGH
Small doses of honey, 1 to 2 tablespoons intake has been found to influence favourably cough
44, 62, 134, 135


and also sleep
135
of children.
The dose of honey used was tsp for 2-5 year olds, 1 teaspoon for the 6 to 11 year-olds and 2 tsp for 12 to
18 year-olds. Buckwheat honey was chosen in this study because of its high antioxidant properties. The
same study shows that honey is more effective than a chemical anti cough syrup
102

A review of the conducted clinical trials in the literature by Oduwole et al. in 2012 made the following
conclusions: Honey may be better than 'no treatment' and diphenhydramine in the symptomatic relief of
cough but not better than dextromethorphan. There is no strong evidence for or against the use of honey
96

A double-blind randomised controlled trial was conducted from 2008 to 2011 in Iran. Included in the study
were 97 adults who had experienced persistent post-infectious cough (PPC) for more than three weeks. The
participants were distributed into three groups. A jam-like paste was prepared which consisted of honey plus
coffee for the first group ('HC'), prednisolone for the second group (steroid, 'S'), and guaifenesin for the third
group (control, 'C'). The participants were told to dissolve a specified amount of their product in warm water
and to drink the solution every eight hours for one week. Honey plus coffee was found to be the most
effective treatment modality for PPC. The recipe for the honey-coffee mixture : 500 g honey mixed with 700
g instant coffee powder. The daily dose was 23.7 g of the mixture, taken 3 times a day
111
.
HONEY IMPROVES SLEEP
It has been claimed for a long time that honey influences beneficially human sleep, but there were no
experiments to prove the claims.
Ingestion of one to two table spoons of buckwheat honey (10-20 g) by children of 6 to 18 years (6-
11 years old- one table spoon, 12-18 yeas old 2 table spoons) improved also the sleep of coughing
children
102, 135
. These results were confirmed with 3 honeys (eucalyptus, citrus and labiatae) for the
improvement of sleep in children (1-5 year old) with upper respiratory tract infections
39

According to a theoretical model for the influence of honey on sleep honey stabilizes blood sugar levels and
contributes to the release of melatonin, the hormone required for recovery and rebuilding of body tissues
during rest
82

HONEY AGAINST DIABETES ?
A clinical trial in Egypt showed that that long-term consumption of honey might have positive effects on the
metabolic derangements of type 1 diabetes
4

THE EXPERIENCE IN RUSSIA
Ludyansky, a chief doctor in a big Russian hospital, with life-long practice in apitherapy, has summarised
the apitherapy knowledge in his monograph Apitherapia (in Russian)
79


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 110
Ludyanski summarises the medical uses of honey in his hospital in the following table:

Treated disease Very good and good improvement No improvement
Alopecia 11 5
Geriatry 59 -
Impotency 21 6
Inflammation of the vagina 21 5
Neurasthenia 60 -
Pediatrics 47 12
Prostatitis 24 5
Radicultis 47 15
Stomatology 43 16

OTHER HEALTH ENHANCING EFFECTS
Influenza and common cold
An Iranian study claims that intake of 50 g of honey daily reduces the length of the common cold by two
days
109
.
The Ukranian doctors Frolov and Peresadin reported on a unique long term honey intake experiment. Frolov
is the chair of the department of infectious diseases in the medical university of Luganska. All members of
the department took 3 times a day, a total of 40-45 g of honey added to lukewarm tea. In the whole
experiment 26 people took part in this unique experiment (n and number of years): n 5 for 20 y; n 6 for 15 y;
n 8 for 10 y; n 5 for 5 to 10 y. During the whole experiment no other prophylactic was used. During the last
8 years of the experiment the department was in close contact with 40-60 patients with influenza and
inflammation of the upper respiratory organs or with other infectious diseases like virus hepatitis, dysentery
and even cholera. During the 20 year duration of the experiment no department member had any of the
described diseases. In the immunological blood test it was found that the skin and the blood had an increased
bactericidal activity, combined with very low microbial counts on the skin, while there were no pathogens in
the whole area of the upper respiratory organs. And there was a control group to this experiment: a medical
department, which was in close proximity of Frolovs test group, which had influenza or sore throat 3 to 4
times a year. This shows that a long term honey intake increases the anti-infectious immunity
54
.
Hay fever
Another controversial possible application of honey is its use for preventing hay fever. Beekeepers claim
that eating honey in the pre-vegetation season (i.e. during winter) will prevent or weaken hay fever
symptoms. A report by Croft presented evidence that daily ingestion during winter time of 10-20 g of honey
resulted in improvements of hay fever symptoms in 16 out of 21 patients
41
. Mnstedt and Kalder found a
positive effect of honey ingestion by means of questionnaire filled out by 29 beekeepers
93
.
A 2002 clinical trial did not confirm the positive effects of honey ingestions, but honey was taken during the
hay fever season and not before it
112
.
As hay fever is increasing in developed countries this issue should be faced with more clinical trials, carried
out in a correct way. More research is necessary to clarify this possible effect of honey.
Infertility
In a preliminary announcement at the 2nd International Conference on the Medicinal Use of Honey in 2010
there is a preliminary announcement that intracervical injection of honey in women with chronic
endocervitis was of positive therapeutic value both in terms of clinical cure and fertility enhancement
1
. At
the same conference it was reported that honey has positive effect on the mechanical properties of the fetal
membranes, may be through collagen promoting action
2
.
Anaemia
Remy Chauvin reviews different early works carrreid out by Theobald et al. and Frauenfelder and Errerich in
Germany, Perez in Spain and Johnsen in Sutralia, carried out on 4-8 old infants. The dose given was one tea

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 111
to one soup spoon in warm milk per day. The increase of blood haemoglobin was seen after one week of
intake
38

These clinical results are confirmed by experiments by Haydak et al. with rats, placed on a diet with milk and
poor in iron. Only dark honeys, e.g. calluna, were capable of bringing blood haemoglobin values back to
normal, while light honeys failed to do so
61


PAY ATTENTION TO THE TYPE OF HONEY
Due to different proportions of the possible sources, nectar and/or
honeydew coming from a great variety of plants, no honey is
completely the same as another one. This variability could be a
handicap, given the market requirement for a consistent product,
but when properly managed, it also could represent an opportunity
for enhancing honey by offering to the consumer a number of
typical products with special characteristics, according to the
particular botanical origin. Indeed, unifloral honeys are regarded as a more valuable class of honey, and
botanical denominations are widely employed on the European market, often achieving higher prices than
honey blends. Unifloral honeys have higher prices than blend honeys. In countries like France, Italy and
Spain 30 to 50 % of the marketed honey is unifloral. In non-European countries, with the exception of the
Manuka New Zealand honey, unifloral honeys have a smaller importance.
Information on European honeys is compiled in the special Apidologie Issue 35 from 2004. In Europe there
are more than 100 plant species that can give origin to unifloral honey, most of them having only a local
importance
103-105

Most biological and clinical studies reviewed above have been made with undetermined types of honeys and
there are very few studies where comparisons have been done with different unifloral honeys. Here the
fields will be reviewed where such studies have been carried out.
HOW TO EXPLAIN THE USE OF HONEY IN MEDICINE
Therapeutic and health enhancing use Biological rationale
Honey in healing of burns and wounds Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, osmotic
and analgesic effects
Therapy of digestive diseases like peptic ulcers and
gastritis
Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects
Against children diarrhoea
Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects
Improvement of gut microbial health and of digestion
Prebiotic effect
Improvement of immune reaction of the body
Immunoactivating effect
Regular intake improves cardiovascular health
Lowering of blood risk factors and specific heart
conditions as extracystoles, arrhythmia and tachicardia
Long term ingestion of honey can reduce the risk of human
cancer
Anticancerogenic effects
Positive glycemic nutritional effect.
Can be used as a sweetener of people with diabetes type II
and also probably type I
Some honeys have a low glycemic index: e.g. acacia
honey. Other fructose rich honeys such as thyme,
chestnut, heather and tupelo are good alternatives.
Use for the treatment of radiation-induced mucositis
Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects
Positive effect of honey ingestion on hepatitis A patients
Anti-inflammatory effect
Improvement of cough in children Contact soothing effect, sweet substances, as a sweetener
honey causes reflex salivation and increases airway
secretions which may lubricate the airway and remove the
trigger that causes a dry, nonproductive cough.


Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 112
HONEY MASSAGE
Honey massage was developed in Tibet and Russia and is
extensively described elsewhere
60, 130

Both liquid and crystalline honeys can be used.
1-2 tea spoons of liquid honey are applied on the back. Massagist
puts hands puts hands onto this area and unglues the palms. Easy
at first, "ungluing" the hands becomes more difficult with every
move because the tension force increases. Massage lasts until the
palms no longer stick to the massaged area, and the honey
disappears from it. The actual duration depends on the type and
quality of honey. Generally, honey massage lasts from 30 minutes.


EVENTUAL HEALTH HAZARDS
See Chapter 8, Honey as nutrient and functional food.

QUANTITY AND TIME OF HONEY INGESTION
The health enhancing effects in human adults, described in this report were mostly achieved after ingestion
of 50 to 80 g of honey per day.
The health claims of honey which are reported below are valid for intakes of following amounts of honey:
Adults: after ingestion of 50 to 80 g per day by adults,
General (adults or infants): 0.8 g to 1.2 g honey per g human weight
The duration of honey ingestion for increase of physical performance and fitness
is very fast, and takes place already 1 to 4 hours after intake.
The health effects reported in the different publications reported above were measured mostly after 2 to 3
weeks of daily honey ingestion. Practical apitherapists suggest for health enhancing effects a daily honey
ingestion for 1.5 to 2 months
65, 89
.
The normal daily allowance for carbohydrate sweeteners is 25 grams. Considering that the recommended
amount of honey is quite high, intake of other sweeteners should be avoided. A normal intake of about 20-25
g per day will rather have a long term health enhancing effect.

Stefan Bogdanov, Bee Product Science, February 2014, www.bee-hexagon.net 113


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