Honey is the thick, supersaturated sugar solution produced by bees to feed their larvae. It is composed of fructose, glucose and water in varying proportions and also contains several enzymes and oils. The color of honey varies due to the source of nectar and age of the honey. Light colored honeys are usually of higher quality than darker honeys. The average honeybee colony can produce more than 700 pounds of honey per year but only 10 percent is usually harvested by the beekeeper. The rest of the honey is consumed by the colony during the year. American per capita honey consumption is 1 pound per person per year. Honey is said to be humanity's oldest sweet, and beeswax the first plastic.
Honey is used in many ways, including direct human consumption, baking, and medicine. Honey has several healing properties. Its high sugar content nourishes injured tissues, thus enhancing faster healing time. Honey's phytochemicals create a form of hydrogen peroxide that cleans out the wound, and the thick consistency protects the wound from contact with air Honey has also proven superior to antibiotic ointments for reducing rates of infection in people with burns.
Prices - U.S. average domestic honey prices in 2007 fell by -0.4% to 103.2 cents per pound and remains well below the 2003 record high of 138.7 cents per pound. The value of U.S. honey production in 2007 fell -4.5% to $153.233 million, well below the 2003 record high of $253.106 million.
Supply - World production of honey in 2006 rose +1.6% to a record high of 1.354 million metric tons, well above the 21-year low of 1.046 million metric tons in 1996. The world's largest producer of honey by far is China with 306,500 metric tons of production in 2006, about 23% of total world production, followed by Argentina with 93,415 metric tons (7%), and the U.S. with 70,238 metric tons (5%).
U.S. production of honey in 2007 fell by -4.1% to 148.482 million pounds, remaining well below the 14-year high of 220.3 million pounds posted in 2000. Stocks fell by -13.3% to 52.484 million pounds in 2007 (Jan 1), but staying well above the 25-year low of 39.4 million pounds posted in 2002. Yield per colony fell -6.0% to 60.8 pounds per colony in 2007. The number of colonies rose by +2.0% to 2.442 million in 2007, up slightly from last year's record low of 2.393 million.
Trade - The U.S. in 2005 (the latest data available) imported honey rose by +30.3% to a record high of 232.7 million pounds. U.S. exports of honey are generally small and in 2005 they totaled only 7.6 million pounds, which was only 4.3% of U.S. production.