Honey: What is it?
Sure, you know what honey is. But do you really?
The honey that is commercially produced is made by the honeybee. These bees store the honey that they make in their hive as a food reserve for the colony. The honey provides nutrients during times of scarcity, such as during bad weather conditions, and when the winter season hits.
One bee may visit up to 1500 flowers to collect a sufficient amount of nectar, a sugary liquid derived from the flowers. Bees siphon the nectar from flowers using their proboscis, and store the nectar in their extra stomach (crop), which contains enzymes that can break down the nectar and alter the substance’s pH.
The honeybee goes back home to the hive after visiting many flowers, where it regurgitates the contents of their crop into another bee’s mouth. The partially digested nectar is sequestered into a honeycomb inside the colony’s hive. The bees beat their wings to help evaporate water in the digested nectar so that it becomes viscous-it then becomes honey. The bees seal up the honeycomb using a secretion emitted from their abdominal region, and this seal becomes beeswax. Beeswax protects the honey from exposure to air and humidity so that the bees’ stash can be effectively stored for an indefinite period of time.
Each member in the beehive colony collectively works so that everyone gets enough honey. Each bee produces about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
When You Take Their Honey, You Are Hurting Bees
When I lived on a farm, there was a beekeeping section which I would often visit. I have always been fascinated by bees, and I really love them. I will always remember the crushed, dead bees whom were the casualties during the bee harvest. In fact, every time the farmer goes to “check” on the bees, they have to open up the frame, and each time the frame is closed, some bees get crushed. Some bees get stepped on. It is not a gentle, loving process that you would like to imagine. Far from it.
The bees want their honey-they have all worked very hard for it.
Humans don’t need honey like bees do. In fact, there are so many alternatives to honey which you can use that you don’t even need honey at all. There is maple syrup, date syrup, coconut nectar, agave nectar, and this apple honey made from apples. My personal favourite is stevia, which I shall write about in my next article.