Honey

Honey

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - Nectar sitting and waiting for bee to come retrieve itBees make honey from nectar and most nectar is about 80% water and it creates complex sugar that are more easily digested and help blood sugar to stay more stable. There is great variety of nectar as it is different for each species of flora. The bees are attracted to the nectar of the flowers so it attracts Honeybees so the pollination process can be accomplished and this allows the pollen to be transported from flower to flower or plant.

The process of creating honey from the collected nectar is fascinating. Bees have long tongues that are like a tube or straws. These tube or straw like tongues allow the Bees to suck out the nectar out of the flowers or plants. The Bees then store the honey in one of their two stomachs this is called “Honeysac.” These honeysac act as carry container. The honey stomach holds approximately 70 mg. and the weight of this honeysac could even exceed the weight of the bee. Honeybees stay quite busy when they are on their hunt for nectar, they might have to visit as many as 1,500 flowers or plants to fill their honeysac.

Once the bees have a full honey sac they return to the hive and the nectar then gets transferred to a Worker Bees.

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - Bee jar with honey spoon, comb and beebreadThese bees use their straw like tongues to suck the nectar from the honeybee’s stomach through their mouths. The Worker Bees work to chew nectar for about half an hour until it is broken down. The Honeybees possess enzymes designed to change the nectar from complex sugars to more refined simple sugars thus making it more digestible to the bees. This also builds into the honey the anti-bacterial attributes while in the hive.

The consistency of 80% water slowly evaporates and provides the thick consistency of honey. When the water content in the honey drops below about 18% it’s ready to be eaten. The bee use the beeswax to cap the hone and keep it in place. It is necessary to keep the water consistency at this level to remove the possibility of fermentation so the honey will not spoil. There have been jars of honey found in the Pharaoh’s tombs that is over 3,000 years old it is was still good and no spoilage found and was considered editable.

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - New method of honey extraction

Bees are quite amazing, actually dry out the nectar by with flapping their wings. This is the method the bees use to regulate the temperature in the hive. Keeping the temperature in the hive consistent no matter the season. In fact bees are the only insect breed with the ability to survive the cold winter months. The bee colony clusters together flapping their wing muscles and this generates heat to help keep the bees warm in the winter. If you would put a thermometer into the cluster of bees in the cold winter months, it would probably average 80 degrees.

We cannot miss important honey nutrition facts when trying to understand what honey is made of and its benefits. 

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - Leaf with nectar on itNectar itself is composed mainly of sucrose and water. Bees add enzymes to create additional chemical compounds, inverting the sucrose into fructose and glucose, and then evaporate the water so that the resulting product will resist spoiling. Honey is a source of carbohydrates, containing 80% natural sugar — mostly fructose and glucose. Due to the high level of fructose, honey is sweeter than table sugar, usually, you can use 1/2 the same amount of sugar. Contains 18% water. The less water content the honey has, the better the quality of honey.  It also contains 2% minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein.

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - Capped honeyThe vitamins present in honey are B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. You can use conductivity to determine quality of honey and Manuka honey has a higher than normal conductivity. It has four times that of normal flower honeys. The higher the conductivity, the better the value of the honey.

Honey versa Sugar. What are their differences? Both sweeteners contain glucose and fructose. However, for sugar, in the process of manufacturing, the organic acids, protein, nitrogen elements, enzymes and vitamins in the sugar cane are destroyed, whereas honey, a natural sweetener, subjects only to minimal heating. Also, honey has certain beneficial antioxidant and antimicrobial properties which are not present in table sugar.

Berks and Schuylkill Beekeepers Association - Honeycomb in a pool of honeyA tablespoon of table sugar or sucrose contains 46 calories, while one tablespoon of natural sweetener honey has 64 calories.  Though honey may have more calories, we actually need to use less of it since it is sweeter than table sugar.  As a result, you may in fact consume even less amount of calories that you would with sugar. In the long run even though honey is more expensive, it may be more economical than table sugar. Especially, when you consider 1 can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of table sugar.

Table sugar is sucrose, which is made up of two molecules bonded together. When we eat table sugar, our stomach has to use its own enzymes to separate the molecules apart before we can use the sugar’s energy. Honey is quite different. The bees have added a special enzymes to the nectar and this divides the sucrose into glucose and fructose and the body can absorb these two simple sugars directly into the body.

We are not the only ones that enjoy the treasure of honey from our friends the bees but they produce their honey for their enjoyment and year round survival. A large colony of bees be could eat up to 200 pounds of honey. If you ever wondered how bees make honey, you now know. It might not as appealing as you might have thought but who can disagree with the end result as they provide us their amazing gift.

Honey Regulations

If you are interested in selling your honey, The National Honey Board Provides the good information necessary in order to comply with legal standards. Click below to obtain information from National Honey Board.

National Honey Board

Click Below to view the PDF’s with the United States Standards For Honey & Honey Comb:

United States Standards for Extracted Honey
United States Standards for Honey Comb

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