Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

honey is the sugary nectar of flowers gathered, modified, and stored in a honeycomb by honey bees (Apis melifica and A. dorsata). From the plant’s point of view the purpose of nectar is to attract insects which pick up pollen and transfer it from flower to flower. As the bee swallows the nectar, its saliva hydrolyses (splits) the sucrose (ordinary sugar) in the nectar into the two simple sugars, dextrose (glucose) and fructose. The bee takes a little nectar for its own nourishment but gives up most of it when it returns to the hive, regurgitating it into one of the hexagonal wax cells of the honeycomb. Each cell is an incubator for a young bee, which feeds on the honey as it grows.