Honey: it rolls off the tongue and is capable of going into just about anything that needs a touch of sweetness. You enjoy it with your tea, baked goods, and several tasty treats. Despite its wonderful qualities, the creation of honey is a complicated and natural process that relies on the work of bees to complete the finished product. Read on to learn more about the honey journey from the hive to your home and clarify that process in just a few simple steps.
Selecting the Right Source
Flowers are the primary target for worker bees looking for fresh nectar to collect. Believe it or not, honeybees do have their preferences for specific types of flowers, and these preferences change based on the environment and species. Naturally, native flowers are the likely favorite, but if there is available nectar, the bees will collect it eventually.
Nectar collection is the most competitive stage, as honeybees sometimes find themselves battling for resources depending on the number of locations available. However, it is not uncommon to see different bee species sharing flowers when gathering nectar.
Putting the House To Work
When their stomachs are full of nectar, honeybees return to the hive for the next stage of honey production. The workers pass on their nectar to hive-exclusive bees that chew it up and pass it on to the next bee. This process is repeated several times and slowly changes the pH of the nectar. This process, in tandem with methods of decreasing the water within the honey from around 70 percent to 20 percent, eventually forms the honey that you are familiar with today.
Storage and Collection
As the honey reaches its final production stage, bees store it within cells before capping each cell off with wax. This honey is originally meant for the new bee larvae to eat when mixed with pollen, but farmers collect it before a new wave of bees is born.
At this stage, beekeepers begin collecting the honeycomb, uncapping the cells, and feeding the material to an extractor. From there, they heat the honey to further remove taste-affecting factors like yeast cells and then strain unwanted particles and remaining wax. Raw honey is not heated or pasteurized and instead only filtered and strained before bottling and shipping off to businesses that take part in putting up bulk and wholesale honey for sale.
The honey journey from the hive to your home is exciting, especially considering how important it is to many other connected aspects of life. Honey is a complicated product of nature that is well worth the effort to produce. Though the process is largely unseen to many consumers, understanding the various roles that come into play helps you form respect for each cog in the machine. When enjoying your next spoonful of honey, consider sparing a thought to the countless bees and dedicated keepers involved in its creation.