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Which raises the question—what exactly makes honey such a special food? The first comes from the chemical make-up of honey itself. Honey is, first and foremost, a sugar.

Sugars are hygroscopic, a term that means they contain very little water in their natural state but can readily suck in moisture if left unsealed. Very few bacteria or microorganisms can survive in an environment like that, they just die. Honey is also naturally extremely acidic. So bacteria and spoil-ready organisms must look elsewhere for a home—the life expectancy inside of honey is just too low.

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Molasses, for example, which comes from the byproduct of cane sugar, is extremely hygroscopic, and is acidic, though less so than honey molasses has a pH of around 5. But there is certainly a special alchemy that goes into honey. But through the process of making honey, the bees play a large part in removing much of this moisture by flapping their wings to literally dry out the nectar. Bees have an enzyme in their stomachs called glucose oxidase PDF. When the bees regurgitate the nectar from their mouths into the combs to make honey, this enzyme mixes with the nectar, breaking it down into two by-products: gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide.

For this reason, honey has been used for centuries as a medicinal remedy. The earliest recorded use of honey for medicinal purposes comes from Sumerian clay tablets, which state that honey was used in 30 percent of prescriptions. The ancient Egyptians used medicinal honey regularly , making ointments to treat skin and eye diseases. If you buy your honey from a small-scale vendor, however, certain particulates might remain, from pollen to enzymes. As soon as you add water to it, it may go bad. Or if you open the lid, it may get more water in it and it may go bad.

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Something disturbing is happening to honey bee colonies that scientists can't yet explain

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How Do Bees Make Honey? (It’s Not Just Bee Barf)

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