Why Doesn’t Honey Spoil? – The Chemistry of Honey. Honey is something of an oddity, in that, unlike most foods, it doesn’t spoil over time. In fact, the oldest known sample of honey, found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb and dated to approximately 3000 years ago, was still perfectly edible (supposedly*). What is it, then, that gives honey this unusual property? To answer this question, we need to understand how bees make honey in the first place.
Honey derives from plant nectar, which is a mix of various different sugars, proteins, and other compounds, in a water solution. Whilst nectar composition varies from plant to plant, and a range of chemical compounds are commonly present, often the dominant sugar is sucrose. Bees are the key intermediate step between nectar and honey. Glucose and fructose can also be referred to as dextrose and levulose respectively. Once the worker bee returns to the hive, it will regurgitate the nectar solution and pass it on to one of the house bees, who remain in the hive. References & Further Reading Like this: