Information about honey plus honey recipe
Photo © Leonid Nyshko - Fotolia.com
Honey is one of
natures wonders and has been a treasured commodity for centuries. It is produced
naturally by bees as a food source for themselves. They do all the work (and
there's a lot of it as you'll read further on) then we come along and reap the
benefits of their hard labour. In fairness, it should be mentioned that European
honeybees, genus Apis Mellifera, produce far more than the hive can
eat which is why they are found in beekeepers' hives worldwide.
History of Honey
is acknowledged that bees have been producing honey for 150 million years, but
some of the earliest written references about honey have been found dating
back to the 40th Century B.C. in ancient Egypt and it is also referred to the
the Old Testament Bible - in particular the well known saying "the land of
milk and honey".
when the Spaniards conquered Mexico and central America in the
16th Century, they found that the natives had already developed beekeeping where
a distinct family of honey bees were native to the Americas.
settlers introduced European honeybees to New England in about 1638. North
American natives called these "white man's flies." Until the
middle of the 17th Century, honey was the most important sweetening agent in the
western world, at which time West Indian cane sugar became more affordable to
What is Honey and
how is it produced?
is nectar with added enzymes. Nectar is the clear liquid that drops from
the end of a flower blossom, which is 80% water with some complex
Honeybees suck the
nectar out of the flowers then store it in their "honey
stomachs" (they actually have two stomachs). Once their
honey stomach is full, they return to the hive or nest. But consider this:
Honeybees must visit between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to fill their honey
stomachs and when full, it holds almost 70 mg of nectar .....which is almost as
much as the bee weighs itself!
back at the hive, worker bees suck the nectar from the honeybees' stomachs,
then "chew" the nectar for about half an hour.
During this time, enzymes are passed into the nectar breaking them
simple sugars to make them more digestible for the bees. The nectar is
then spread throughout the honeycombs where it evaporates into a thick syrup,
aided by the bees fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is thick enough, the bees seal off the cell of the
honeycomb with wax and there it is stored ready to be eaten.
bee nests obviously occur naturally, commercially "farmed" honey is
usually obtained from man-made beehives. Once the honeycombs are removed from
the hives, extractor tanks, or centrifuge machines, whirl the honey-combs around
so the honey is separated from the wax comb. This produces a liquid honey.
What gives honey
flavour and colour of honey varies quite dramatically depending on the type of flower from which the bee
collects the nectar.
Most honey comes from bees feeding on various flowers. These are
known as polyfloral. However some plants provide enough nectar during their
short flowering season to enable the bees in the area to feed solely on that
type of blossom. This honey, known as monofloral, is keenly sought by beekeepers
and consumers alike.