Unexpected similarity between honey bee and human social life

Bees and humans are about as different organisms as one can imagine. Yet despite their many differences, surprising similarities in the ways that they interact socially have begun to be recognized in the last few years. Now, ...

Gut bacteria is key to bee ID

For a honey bee, few things are more important than recognizing your nestmates. Being able to tell a nestmate from an invader could mean the difference between a honey-stocked hive and a long, lean winter.

Honey bees can help monitor pollution in cities

Honey from urban bees can tell us how clean a city is and help pinpoint the sources of environmental pollutants such as lead, new University of British Columbia research has found.

How bees stay cool on hot summer days

If you've ever walked past a bees nest on a hot summer day, you've probably been too focused on avoiding getting stung, rather than stopping to wonder how all those bees stay cool. Don't worry, Harvard scientists have braved ...

Honey bee parasites feed on fatty organs, not blood

Honey bee colonies around the world are at risk from a variety of threats, including pesticides, diseases, poor nutrition and habitat loss. Recent research suggests that one threat stands well above the others: a parasitic ...

Honey bees study finds that insects have personality too

A new study in Science suggests that thrill-seeking is not limited to humans and other vertebrates. Some honey bees, too, are more likely than others to seek adventure. The brains of these novelty-seeking bees exhibit distinct ...

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Honey

Honey (English pronunciation: /ˈhʌni/) is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bees and insects has distinctly different properties.

Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation, and store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Beekeeping practices encourage overproduction of honey so the excess can be taken from the colony.

Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and has approximately the same relative sweetness as that of granulated sugar. It has attractive chemical properties for baking, and a distinctive flavor that leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity of 0.6. However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous to infants, as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in the infant's immature intestinal tract, leading to illness and even death (see Health hazards below).

Honey has a long history of human consumption, and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. It also has a role in religion and symbolism. Flavors of honey vary based on the nectar source, and various types and grades of honey are available. It is also used in various medicinal traditions to treat ailments. The study of pollens and spores in raw honey (melissopalynology) can determine floral sources of honey. Because bees carry an electrostatic charge, and can attract other particles, the same techniques of melissopalynology can be used in area environmental studies of radioactive particles, dust or particulate pollution.

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