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What Is Honey?

Honey has been used for centuries to sweeten food. In fact, remnants of honey—still edible after several hundred years!—were found in Egyptian pyramids.

Honey was considered a gift from the gods, because of its rich golden color and pure flavor. Rhetoric aside, though, it is a gift from the bees. While other insects can also make honey, people are most familiar with those harvested from what has come to be called “apiaries” or bee honey farms.

Apiaries consist of several pre-made structures that bees can use as a hive, and field after field of flowers. Each flower will produce a certain kind of flavor in the honey, so farmers will try to create their own, unique “honey brand” by careful selection of vegetation. Interestingly, the color of the honey changes too. Darker varieties tend to have a richer flavor.

Once the bees settle into the hive, they create a colony, led by the queen and consisting of several hundred drones and worker bees. The worker bees are responsible for gathering flower nectar, which they bring back to the hive. The nectar is then processed into honey, and then kept in the honey combs. The farmers then collect the combs. Some people think, however, that this practice is unfair to bees, who can die when they are mishandled.

Honey is used in cooking savory dishes (it is often added to glazes and sauces, because of its sweet and thick consistency), baked goods, and even salad dressings. It can also be eaten alone, spread over bread, or mixed into drinks as a sweetener.

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