Honey (madhu) sweet, viscid fluid produced by bees from the nectar collected from flowers, and stored in their nests or hives as food. Honey is classified according to origin as blossom and honey-due-honey and by processing mode as comb, extracted or pressed-honey.

The colour, taste and odour of honey depend on the type of nectar the bees collect. The main constituent chemicals of honey are levulose (fructose) and dextrose (glucose); other chemicals are sucrose, protein, K, P, Mn, Na, Mg, Ca, Fe, Al, Cu, Cl, S, Vitamin A, B, C, K and E. The caloric value of honey is about 3,040 calorie/kg.

Honey bees and hive

Honey is highly priced and has a wide range of use as food and medicine. Two species of honeybee collect honey that has commercial value: Apis dorsata has never been domesticated but produce most of the honey in Bangladesh; A. cerana indica produce honey both in the wild and in domestication. The apiculture practice is now being popularized in Khulna, Jessore, Bogra, Mymensingh, Tangail, Dhaka, and Chittagong. About 50 species of honey plants have been identified. The sundarbans is the major producer of honey in the country and account for about 20 per cent of the total honey production of Bangladesh. These are mostly unifloral honey of goran-type and golpata-type.

The other unifloral honey of the Sundarbans is khalshi-type; it is very high priced due to its high quality. The second important unifloral honey is mustard-type, mango-type, and Indian jujube-type. Other honey of both wild and culture is the coconut, onion and litchi-type. Most of the honey is collected from December to June but the peak period for collections is February to April.

Honey is collected by pressing or squeezing the comb. Blotting and blending of honey is done manually. About 109 m tons of honey was collected from forest sources in 1995-96. The world production of honey is about 1,500,000 m tons. China is the major producer (about 25%); Germany is the highest consumer (1.8 kg/capita). The per-capita consumption of honey in India is about 9 g; it is only about 2 g in Bangladesh. Honey is traditionally consumed as table honey or as medicine. [Mostafa Kamal Pasha]

See also apiculture; bee; honey plant.