What is honey? How bees make honey
Honey is what bees eat. A honey bee doesn’t eat from a flower – she’s there to collect watery nectar, which she drinks with her long tongue (pollination is the flower’s reward). She flies the nectar back to the beehive where it’s made into honey and stored.
How to make honey
In the beehive, she passes the nectar (mouth to mouth) to other bees who transform it. First the nectar is mixed with enzymes in the mouth, then they spit it into honeycomb cells. Next, the bees thicken the honey as a chef thickens a sauce: fanning it with their wings to evaporate the water (nectar is 70% water). Lastly, the thick honey (<20% water) is sealed with wax.
Honey is high in sugar and from it bees get most of their energy. But bees also need to eat pollen: a food rich in protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
Honey is a miracle — a treat eaten straight from nature, needing no preparation, cooking or preserving. It’s the only food made for us by insects. Bees visit over 2 million flowers to produce a 500 ml jar of honey. My favourite honey is Ngahere honey (mostly Tawari with a touch of Rewarewa) from the Hawkes Bay.
Scientists have proved that honey kills bacteria. New Zealand manuka and Australian jelly bush honey have the strongest anti-bacterial power.
Honey medical research: Waikato University
The honey bees that fetch the nectar
From the flowers to the comb
Never tire of ever buzzing to and fro
Because they take a little nip
From ev’ry flower that they sip
And hence (And hence),
They find (They find)
Their task is not a grind.
– A Spoonful of Sugar from Mary Poppins by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman