APR 20, 2017 08:07 PM PDT

More than a sticky sweet!


Honey isn't only the sweetest snack ever, it also has quite the reputation as a anti-bacterial agent. In fact, people used to put honey on cuts to stop infections from spreading and even today hospitals use derivatives of honey for the same purpose. But what makes honey so potent against bacteria?

One of the characteristics of honey that makes it so bacteria-resistant is its sugar. Consisting of mostly glucose and fructose, honey contains more sugar than could normally dissolve at the temperature which its produced at (thank you bees!). This property allows honey to suck up the liquid within a bacterium (via osmosis) and because there is so little water in honey, the bacterium cannot survive within the honey.

Honey also has glucose oxidase, a compound that bacteria dislike because it turns glucose into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide, both of which make living conditions difficult (read: impossible) within honey. Bacteria need a pH of roughly 7 and the gluconic acid gives honey a pH of roughly 4, while hydrogen peroxide essentially kills cells.

But the most important aspect of honey is that bees actually put antibiotics into the honey they make, more specifically an antibiotic called Bee Defensin-1. Bees themselves use this antibiotic to protect themselves from bacteria that may be in the hive, and because it's produced in the same gland that bees use to make honey, some of it ends up in the honey we eat!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
SEP 10, 2018
Videos
SEP 10, 2018
Is The Human Brain Programmable?
The brain is often referred to as a computer. Researchers have tried for years to make artificial intelligence as fast and efficient as the human brain, bu...
SEP 23, 2018
Videos
SEP 23, 2018
Do our Genes Influence our Political Beliefs?
Scientists have been interested in understanding how our physiology shapes who we are for many years....
SEP 23, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 23, 2018
The Benefits of Vertical Farming
In some parts of the world where agriculture becomes a problematic endeavor, vertical farming offers a potential solution. Newark, New Jersey is a great ex...
SEP 25, 2018
Videos
SEP 25, 2018
Predicting Influenza: Could Private Health Data Help?
Health data, such as information contained in a patient’s electronic health record, is closely guarded to ensure privacy and compliance with HIPAA la...
SEP 26, 2018
Videos
SEP 26, 2018
Why do leaves change color in the fall?
We know that deciduous trees drop their leaves every winter in order to avoid wasting precious resources on keeping them alive during the long, hard, cold ...
OCT 07, 2018
Videos
OCT 07, 2018
Certain Foods Encourage a Gut Microbe, and Colon Cancer
Researchers reveal more evidence that refined grains and sugars and processed meats are bad for colon health....
Loading Comments...