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How to Differentiate
a Pure Honey from an Impure One
As a consumer, you must pay for something
worth for value. Even though adulterated honey has no harm on health, you must
get what you ask for namely a pure honey. Usually the dosage of adulteration
may not be adequate to affect the taste and aroma of the honey.
The following are tests that you may perform
to test the purity of honey.
i. Hexagon shape test
Put a drop of honey on a flat plate. Drip
water on top of the honey just enough to cover it. Shake the plate horizontally
in circular direction. A pure honey will show hexagon shape like honeycomb
after a while.
ii. Rubbing hand test
Apply honey on your fingers. Try to use a
piece of dry cloth to clean it. If the honey is pure, your finger can be
cleaned totally. Your fingers will remain sticky if the honey is impure.
iii. Water dissolving test
Drop a teaspoon of honey into a glass of
water. Observe how the honey sinks into the bottom. If the honey is pure, it
will not dissolve. It will go down to the bottom of the glass. It needs some
time to dissolve. If the honey is impure, it will dissolve.
iv. Flame test
Dip a cotton bud with honey. Try to burn
using a lighter. If it burns, then it is an impure honey; otherwise it is pure.
Real honey does not burn.
Or dip the active tip of a match into the
honey. Try to scratch the active tip of the match to light it up. If it is pure
honey, it can be lit up. It cannot be lit up if the honey is impure. The impure
honey will wet the tip of the match thus making it does not burn.
If the honey crystallized, it is pure honey.
Unfortunately, there is common misconception that granulated or crystallized
honey is proof of adulteration of sugar. The fact is the other way round.
vi. Absorption test
Put a drop of honey on a piece of paper. If
the honey is blotted or absorbed by observing the bottom of the paper, then it
is not pure.
vii. Writing test
Use a pen touch the honey and try to write on
a piece of paper. If you can write, then the honey is pure; otherwise the honey
is adulterated with artificial sugars.
viii. Sand test
Drop a small drip of honey of sand. If the
honey scatters, it is not a pure honey. Pure honey will remain intact and hold
Beside the above home tests, you may send the
honey for scientific laboratory tests. There are two tests that can be
It uses principle of interaction between
light and matter to differentiate substances in the honey like sucrose and
b. Carbon Isotope Ratio Analysis
This test is used to determine whether sugar
When you purchase honey, first and foremost
you must check its label whether additives and other substance is added. “Pure
honey” may mean the bottle or container contain pure honey and other
substances. The wise way is to go for reliable brands or suppliers. Buying
honey in the combs is one way to make sure you get a pure one.
of Honey in Malaysia
Honey bees are natural pollinators of plants.
They help in disseminating pollens from flower to flower while collecting
nectar. As a result, seeds are produced which enable the propagation of the
There are many sources of nectar in Malaysia.
Acacia is one of the main sources of honey in
Acacia belongs to the family of Fabaceae.
There are over 1300 species in the world. In Malaysia, the species of Acacia is
In general Acacia has sap which is the source
of honey dew that is collected by the honey bees. Acacia is an invasion plant
meaning it is spreading easily and has high resilience. It is used as erosion
In Malaysia, all Acacia mangium plantation
before 1992 were developed by the Federal Government. The plantations were
established for supply of pulpwood to the paper industry.
Currently, there are about 80,000 ha Acacia
mangium plantation in Peninsula Malaysia, 100,000 ha in Sabah and 8,000 ha in
Pineapple flower is another major source of
nectar for the honey bees.
The state of Johor tops the list of major
pineapple producer with some 50,000 acres of pineapple plantation. The farmers normally will ensure the
flowering is uniform to ease the harvesting process. Therefore, the beekeepers
having beehives in the pineapple plantations must move the beehives to
elsewhere when there are no flowers around.
(Melaleuca cajuputi) tree
Melaleuca cajuputi belongs to the family of
Myrtaceae. It is a tall tree about 15 – 20 meter high with leaves resemble
those of Acacia.
It has tiny creamy yellow flower emerging on
a long spike in the shape of bottle brush. The honey bee will come to pick up
the nectar from these tiny flowers.
The tree trunk usually is gnarled and
twisted. A special feature is that its bark is spongy like the banana tree. The
color of the bark is whitish and may peel off like large sheet of paper. It is
also called paper bark tree.
In Malaysia it is found in swampy forest
between old raised sea beaches. It is abundant in coastal alluvial flats behind
the sandy beaches and the mangroves in the states of Kedah, Melaka, Negeri
Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu.
The starfruit is a tropical and subtropical
fruit. Malaysia is a global leader in starfruit production by volume. In Malay
starfruit is known as belimbing.
The starfruit tree can grow very fast and may
produce fruit when it is 4-5 years old.
The starfruit tree flowers are the source of
nectar. Starfruit flowers the whole year round. In Malaysia its peak fruiting
seasons are from April to June and October to December. Beekeepers can expect a
surge in honey collection during those peak seasons.
Durian is native to Malaysia. It is a
controversial fruit. Some people prefer its fragrance whereas others hate it
because of its strong smell. Durian flowers are big and full of nectar.
Durian normally is pollinated by bats, spider and giant bee. It is a source of
honey for beekeeper. As durian flowering is seasonal, the beekeepers must
observe its flowering season for their migration programme.
Coconut can be found mostly at the coastal
area in Malaysia especially in Penang, Johor, Kelantan and Terengganu. Coconut flowering is not seasonal. It flowers
the whole year round. Its flowers are yellowish in color.
There are three (3) kinds of honey bee in a colony
i.e. workers, drones and a queen.
An egg is laid in a hexagonal wax cell. It hatches
into tiny, white, legless larve. This will take 3-4 days. By the ninth day, the
drone is fully grown and ready to pupate. The workers put a capping over the
cell. 10 to 11 days later, the capping is bitten away and a adult emerges.
Workers are female with their reproductive organ not
They are the smallest among the three (3) castes in
the beehive. A hive can accommodate 2-200 thousand workers.
The life span of worker is about 20-40 days or up to
the usage of its sting.
The worker main tasks include collecting food (nectar,
pollen) from outside the hive, making wax cell, feeding the developing larvae,
cleaning hive, evaporating nectar, closing the pupa cell and honey etc.
The workers is quoted as “work to death”.
Drones are male with a life span of 4 -5 weeks. Their
main role is to fertilize a new queen or mate with a new queen. They do not
work inside the hive. They are fed by the workers or help themselves from the
store of nectar and pollen in the combs.
The queen is the biggest honey bee in a hive. It is
easily recognized by her large abdomen.
The queen is the only egg-laying female in the hive.
It can live up to 2 years (maximum 8 years).
Its main role is mating with a drone. Usually the
mating occurs once only in her life even though researches show the more than
once is possible. The sperm received from the drone is store in a sperm sac in
her abdomen. The store of sperms will last for 2 years or more. When the sperms
are exhausted, the queen continues to lay egg but they are all unfertilized and
will become drones.
A queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs per day.
The workers feed the queen with royal jelly, her only
Besides, the queen is the leader which keeps the
colony together with secretion of a hormone 9-hydroxydecenic acid (HDA).
Veganism is defined as a way of life of life which
excludes all forms of exploitation of and torture to the animal kingdom. The
vegans do not eat flesh, fish, fowl, egg, honey, animal milk and its
derivatives. They only rely on the plant kingdom for food.
There are a few reasons why the vegans exclude honey
from their menu.
The vegans feel that the honey bees are enslaved. The
beekeepers use smoke to calm the bees. Smoke neutralizes the alarm pheromone
which the guard bees release and prevents the entire colony from becoming
The beekeepers use to move around the beehives in
search for honey. During the migration, the beehives are carried from a place
to another usually at night. Like human, bees suffer in the journey. That’s why
bees are agitated and used to sting people when the beehives are unloaded from
the lorry when the beekeepers arrive at a new place.
A queen can live up to 5 years. However, a queen may
be killed by human after 2 years when its reproduction capacity is dwindling
and replaced by a successor queen.
Honey is the result of hard work of the bees. Honey
bees travel 88,000 km and visit 2 million flowers in order to gather nectar and
produce 0.5 kg of honey. The honey is the food of the bees. They may have extra
honey which the human may take. But, how often human only takes the extra
As such, the
vegans feel that taking away honey from the bees is an exploitation of the bees
which is not acceptable to them at all.
Asystasia gangetia has a common name : creeping
foxglove. It belongs to a plant family called Acanthaceae. It thrives lavishly
in tropical Asia including Malaysia.
This plant is a fast growing, invasive and attractive
ground cover with small beautiful flower. The flower is white in color with
purple strip on the lower petal. It attracts honey bees to come to obtain
Besides attracting honey bee, its flower also lures
butterflies. The flower also serves as food to beetle.
Asystasia is quite invasive that it could smother the
surrounding vegetation with its herbaceous layer.
It can be used as mass planting under large trees. It
can be propagated from cuttings taken after flowering. It thrives in semi-shade
areas and under full sun.