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Honey is a sweet, yellow to amber colored, viscous fluid produced by bees. Other insects can also produce the substance, but that made by bees is what most people are familiar with, since it has been consumed for centuries as a sweetener. As an alternative to sugar, honey is a sweet, dense, flavorful food that can vary widely in taste and color, depending on what the bees are eating. Most grocers sell it, since it is a very popular food around the world.
To harvest honey, humans set up apiaries, facilities specifically designed for housing bees. The beekeeper provides a solid structure for the bees to use as a hive, and an assortment of flowers may be planted in the region to flavor the honey and encourage the bees to stay. A colony of bees includes a single queen, an assortment of drones, and a large number of worker bees. The social structure of a hive is actually quite complex, and naturalists have devoted extensive study to the lives of bees and the ways in which they communicate.
Worker bees travel outside the hive to collect nectar from flowers. When they return to the hive, the bees convert the nectar into honey, and store it in waxy combs designed to keep it stable until it is needed. Bees use what they produce as a food source when they have difficulty finding other foods. Humans have also been taking advantage of the substance as a food for thousands of years.
Honey is naturally sweet, and it was the only major sweetener in use among humans for quite some time. It can be used in baking, used as a spread on breads, or added to drinks for additional sweetness. The substance is also used in the manufacture of savory foods, like honey glazed hams. Beekeepers can control the flavor to some extent with plantings of different flowers; as a general rule, the darker the product, the more intense the flavor.
Most vegans do not eat honey, since it is an animal product. Many believe that bees are exploited to make commercial products, since their environment is heavily manipulated. In addition, bees can lose their lives in the commercial industry, due to the way in which they are handled. Most humans overlook these ethical issues, however, including some vegans and vegetarians who are fond of the sweet, flavorful food.