Recipe to nature’s sweetest dessert – honeyKhawla
How is Honey Made?
For millennial and beyond honey has always been nature’s sweetest dessert, and at Amalsons, honey is what we are most passionate about. It’s not only loved and sought out by many just for its sweetness, but it carries a countless amount of benefits. It is a cure for many illnesses and chronic diseases. It is also a greater and much healthier substitute for processed sugar.
It is common knowledge that bees make honey. But have you ever wondered how they make it? In this article, we’d like to share some of the interesting facts about how bees produce honey.
Our little honey makers, bees, have been around for thousands of years, and humans have been foraging honey and reaping its benefits dated to at least 8 thousand years ago. It has been said that with the exception of mankind, nowhere in the world is there anything to compare with the incredible efficiency of the industry of the honeybee. They’re incredible workers, have excellent teamwork and will honourably sacrifice themselves anytime to protect their home and queen.
Types of bees in a colony:
Bees live as a colony, in wild beehives or manmade hives. There are three types of bees in a colony:
- A queen bee
- Female worker bees
- Seasonally variable of male bees who are also known as ‘drone’
In the bee industry, all bees have special roles and all roles are equally significant. Among others, there are guard bees who guard the hive, the drones whose only job is to fertilise the queen, the nursing bees who care and nurture the young, and forager bees whose job is to leave the hive in search for food and materials.
So, how do bees make honey?
Bees have two main menus: honey and bee pollen. It is the forager bees who leave the hive in search of nectar, sugary water, a key ingredient for producing honey. Once a foraging bee finds a flower or plant that contains nectar, she proceeds to suck the sugary liquid from the plant with her proboscis.
It is then stored in her crop or honey sac which is located just dorsal to her stomach. Along this process, the bee adds her own special and crucial ingredients to the nectar: bee enzymes and proteins. Chemical reactions take place as the sugar in the nectar starts breaking down. The bee also takes from the nectar what is needed to supply her with enough energy for her diligent work.
She visits around 50-100 flowers in a single collecting trip. When the bee concludes her expedition, she goes back to the hive and regurgitates (vomits) the nectar and transfers it to a hive-bee.
The receiving bee will add more bee enzymes to the nectar. That bee will then do the same to another hive-bee, regurgitating and transferring the nectar over (also absorbing some of the water). This process is repeated (from one bee to another) until the honey reaches storage quality to the honeycomb.
However, the process is not over yet. At this point, the honey is in the cells of the honeycomb, unsealed, still has high water content (about 50% to 70%). To make it into the sticky form we know, the bees flap their wings over it as a group to circulate the air and evaporate the water from the honey. This is a vital step for long term storage and preservation. Because honey at this stage contains natural yeast and if left unchecked will cause it to ferment. Therefore, excess moisture should be removed to prevent living organisms (such as yeast) to grow. After the water content in the honey reaches around 17% the bees seal the cells with wax-made-caps.
There you have it, in simplicity how bees produce honey.
In a lifetime a working bee will produce only about 0.8 grams of honey. That’s equivalent to 1/10 of a teaspoon! Stop there and ponder the teaspoons of honey you have had in your tea this morning or for your toast spread. Let it sink in for a few seconds. Incredible, don’t you think? Depending on your sweet tooth, that is probably equivalent to twenty to forty bees’ entire lifetimes!