Honey is an ancient natural sweetener. Owing to its healing and nutritional profile, it has been used for thousand of years. Today, the value of it is somewhat underappreciated because of efflux of artificial sweeteners, substitutes, and junks. It is truly a remarkable substance, made even more extraordinary by the process with which it is made.
Where does honey come from?
Just imagine how hard honeybees have to work…a whole hive of bees may fly tens of thousands of miles (up to 55,000 miles) and visit millions of flowers in order to collect enough nectar to make just a pound of honey.
If you watch the activity of a bee-hive, they are continuously moving in the nest and outside the nest. The reason they are doing this is that the food they need is outside somewhere. These bees send the worker bees/ female bees to the flowers.These bees use their long, tubelike tongues to suck the nectar out of the nectaries of the flowers, which is at the base of the flower. It is just like drinking straws! This nectar is nothing much but sweet sugar water. They store the nectar it in their honey stomach (crop), which is different than their regular stomach, which helps them digest their food. Their stomach is more of a pouch that they use to carry nectar back to the hive and transfer it to other worker bees.This female bee flies all the way from the flower to the hive with her stomach full of nectar. While entering the hive, the bee is checked by the sister bee, later she spits out (via regurgitation) the nectar in one of the bees. These bees that remain in the hive then “chew” the nectar for about 30 minutes or so during which time enzymes are breaking the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars. The Worker bees then save the nectar in the cell-like structure of the hive. Nectar can be 30 to 40% of water, so the bees dry off the nectar by fanning their wings, in order to concentrate it down to honey. After the nectar is properly ripe and honey is formed, they cover it with a liquid secretion from the bee’s abdomen, which hardens to beeswax.
But why do bees make honey?
Bees make honey because honey is bees food. Flowers are not available all year round. So these bees collect it to survive the cold winter.
The science of honey:
It is primarily composed of fructose, glucose, and water. It also contains other sugars as well as trace enzymes, minerals vitamins, and amino acids.
Different kinds of honey:
The colour and the flavour of the honey varies from the nectar source. Typically, the lighter colour is mild in flavour while the dark coloured ones have the robust flavour.
The difference between raw and processed honey:
Raw honey is natural form collected straight from the beehive. It contains be bee pollens and is packed with living enzymes, which gives it healing property. Commercial one is highly processed and contains more syrup than honey. It contains traces of honey dust and no living enzymes. All the healing properties are destroyed in processing. So if you are using a processed one for healing purpose, you are fooling yourself.
- How to spot fake honey?
If you place real one in a glass of water it will go to the bottom and form a lump. The false one will mix with the water.
- Real one will crystallize over time. Artificial honey will remain as a syrup, no matter how long it has been stored for.