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Honeybees fly around, collect pollen and nectar and are somehow able to change all their foraging into a golden sap that is commonly known as the “food of the gods”.
The conversion of nectar into honey involves both physical chemical changes. Beginning with a physical change, the nectar’s water content is reduced. Then, the two chemical changes are brought about by the addition of enzymes from the honeybee.
These steps help to reduce the storage space required and to make the honey into a compound with a long shelf life. The process of water reduction turns honey into one of the “driest” substances that is still a liquid. In fact, honey has a moisture content lower than lumber. All of this water reduction does more than just save storage space, it also increases the osmotic pressure of the honey. Osmosis refers to the movement or flow of materials through a membrane such as a cell wall in our bodies. Bacteria can’t live in this dry environment – once they’re introduced to honey, the fluid in the bacteria is wicked out by the honey and the bacteria becomes dehydrated and dies. The high osmotic pressure in honey is one of the reasons it is protected from microbial attack and has such a long life. It is also one of the reasons that honey has been used for thousands of years as a wound dressing. The honey keeps the wound moist, kills most infectious organisms present, and protects against attack by microbes.