Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/82

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general failure, not only in America but in Europe. The modicum of honey produced, especially of comb-honey, was soon exhausted, and the dealers as well as consumers, North, South, East, and West, were crying out for honey. The producers were inundated with letters and orders which they could not fill. Now, here was the grand opportunity for the manufacturers of "artificial honey." If the article could be sold "at an immense profit at half the price" of the genuine article, as Prof. Wiley assures us, these bogus manufacturers could have coined money—there were "millions in it" apparently. But they failed to appear. The glucose was available, the paraffin ditto, and the "appropriate machinery" ought, in the interval under the law of progress, to have become still more "appropriate" and perfect in its work; but, strange to say, the famine of honey continued. The tempting prices were offered in vain. Not a pound of the stuff ever "materialized" so far as anybody could find out. Nor was this gap in the extracted honey, caused by the drought, filled by any artificial substitute, which also goes to prove that the prevalent notion that honey is extensively adulterated has very little foundation in fact. Considering the comparatively low market prices of honey the past few years, and the facility with which the genuine article can be produced in modern scientific bee-culture, adulteration would hardly pay for the trouble.

That there is but very little adulteration either of comb or extracted honey may be safely asserted. The prevalent popular belief to the contrary may be accounted for in two ways—by the prevalent ignorance of the character and what I might call the habits of honey, and by the erroneous teachings and misleading reports of the authorities under review. While it may be said, in general terms, that honey chemically consists of sugar and water, in the proportion usually of about seventy-five per cent of the former to twenty-five of the latter,[1] these elements vary so much in their proportions in different grades of honey gathered from so many different flowers at different seasons of the year that there is no sure test, chemical or other, of honey. Even the polariscope, but recently considered a certain test of its purity, and still so considered by some analysts, is found to be uncertain and unreliable. While generally in pure honey the ray of light is turned to the left, some samples, equally pure, though perhaps stored rapidly and capped prematurely, may contain so much cane-sugar that the ray is turned to the right. Hence the mistakes of chemists, relying upon the integrity of the polariscope, in passing up on the purity or impurity of honey. They have

  1. According to C. Tomlinson, F. R. S., F. C. S., dextrose thirty-eight per cent, levulose thirty-six, water twenty-two, and the remaining four, salts, wax, pollen, gluten, and aromatic and coloring matters.