beehiveHONEY HAS been regarded as a wonderful gift of Nature and mans oldest sweetener. It is an excellent substitute for sugar in our foodstuff. It is a sweet viscous fluid produced by feeding insects called honey bees using nectar of flowers. The captivating process of making honey begins when the bees feast on flowers, collecting the flower nectar in their mouths. Then they mix it with special enzymes in their saliva through chemical process to turn it into honey. The honey is carried back to their hives to be deposited into the cells of the hives walls. The fluttering of their wings provides the necessary ventilation to reduce the moisture content making it ready for consumption. Chemically honey is a mixture of water (14-20 per cent), sugars, acids, proteins and different minerals. It comprises of 75-85 per cent sugar in the form of fructose and glucose, thus providing a surplus energy. It also contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3 all of which change according to the qualities of the nectar and pollen. Besides, minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, chlorine, sulphur, iron, copper, iodine, and zinc also exist in it in various quantities. Approximately one half of the human diet is derived directly or indirectly from crops pollinated by bees. Today, honeybees are an essential part of a healthy agriculture economy. Likewise, honey is easily digestible and a pleasant food. The quality of honey can be determined by its fragrance, taste, and consistency. Ripe and freshly collected honey indicating high viscosity is believed to be of high-quality.

Four species of Honeybees viz., Apis cerana, A. dorsata, A. florea, A. mellifera have been reported from Pakistan. The first three are indigenous and the last one, Apis mellifera, is imported and established in Pakistan. These species are widespread in diverse ecological areas of the country. The appealing fact about honey bee is that the most people see only the workers because these are the bees that regularly fly in and out of the nest. On the other hand, there is a team work in which honey bees are categorized into three groups. First group belongs to a queen that is responsible for reproduction. The second ones are called drones which are fertile male bees that mate with new queens. The third group is called as workers that are sterile females responsible for feeding the queen, maintaining the hive, gathering the pollen and nectar, and protecting the hive.

Religions and human civilizations regarded honey as a precious and sacred food. It has been a constant component of medicine since time immemorial. In recent decades, medical sciences have proved the honey as an imperative medicine that possesses multifaceted remedial properties. It is also estimated that its remedial value is equivalent to the levels of antioxidants found in vegetables like spinach and fruits like apples and strawberries. There are so many medicinal remedies that are made from honey.

Honey is a natural antiseptic. It contains antimicrobial agents, which prevent infections by killing the bacteria in and around the wounds. In the laboratory experiments, honey is proved to be effective against those MRSA strains of bacteria which are scandalously resistant to antibiotics. According to an estimate, about 600 medical journals have cited the honey to treat wounds. Another important use of honey is to control stomachache. Studies have shown that intake of honey significantly reduces the infections, ulcers or inflammation of the gastric system. In Europe, it is also used internally to treat ulcers mainly stomach ulcers. In addition, it is also proven to control diarrhea by preventing vomiting and stomach trouble hence, support to rehydrate the body. Honey is very effective in the treatment of some pathological conditions of the intestinal tract, the respiratory organs, the heart, and the nerves.

Honey is claimed to be a good source of antioxidants to prevent the cancer as well as heart diseases. Another quality of honey is that, when it is compared with the same amount of sugar, it gives 40 per cent less calories to the body. Although it gives great energy to the body, it does not add weight. Free sugar molecules of honey rapidly diffuse through blood, thus, functioning the brain better and reduces fatigue. In addition, it helps in cleansing the blood. It has some positive effects in regulating and facilitating blood circulation. It also functions as a protection against capillary problems and arteriosclerosis. Honey is measured as a suitable choice for sweetening the food of diabetic patients. Its antiseptic capacity helps to clean mouth. It also acts as natural moisturizer to enhance the beauty of skin. A mixture of honey and ground almonds serves, as an excellent scrub for face. By adding some honey to tea or gargling, it offers a very soothing effect to sore throat. It also helps kidneys and intestines to function better. Lastly, daily consumption of a tablespoon of honey boosts up the entire body systems.

Several groups of people and individuals are involved with honey by producing, consuming and doing research on honey. Modern science has provided evidence that honey is a marvelous blessing of Nature. The wisdom and knowledge of 1400 years ago is still in operation irrespective of any religion and it will be everlasting.

The author of article is Scientist at Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Islamabad. <>

By Web Team

Technology Times Web team handles all matters relevant to website posting and management.