Honey is a sweet food made by bees foraging nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to, as it is the type of honey collected by most beekeepers and consumed by people. Honeys are also produced by bumblebees, stingless bees, and other hymenopteran insects such as honey wasps, though the quantity is generally lower and they have slightly different properties compared to honey from the genus Apis. Honey bees convert nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. They store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive.
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and has about the same relative sweetness as granulated sugar. It has attractive chemical properties for baking and a distinctive flavor that leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity of 0.6.However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous to infants, as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in infants' immature intestinal tracts, leading to illness and even death.
People who have a weakened immune system should not eat honey because of the risk of bacterial or fungal infection. No evidence shows any benefit of using honey to treat diseases. Providing 64 calories in a typical serving of one tablespoon, honey contains no significant essential nutrient content. Honey is generally safe but there are various, potential adverse effects or interactions it may have in combination with excessive consumption, existing disease conditions or drugs.
Honey use and production has a long and varied history. Honey collection is an ancient activity. Humans apparently began hunting for honey at least 8,000 years ago, as evidenced by a cave painting in Valencia, Spain.