How Is Honey Made? Exploring the Fascinating Honey-Making Process

How Is Honey Made? Exploring the Fascinating Honey-Making Process
Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

5 minutes

Executive Summary:

 

How Honey Is Made: Unveiling the Bee's Secret Process 

For centuries, honey has been a staple as a natural sweetener. It goes far beyond adding a sweet, enticing flavor profile to various foods and beverages; it's also packed with various beneficial nutrients. 

Yet, before we can consume this delectable golden treat, the bees must make it. The process behind honey production is fascinating and complex, involving intricate steps and in-depth scientific processes that the bees seemingly complete with ease. So, in this article, we explore the journey of honey from its start inside blooming flowers to the final delicious golden liquid. 

 

The Start of the Journey: Nectar Collection

The process of creating honey begins outside the hive with forager bees, who are responsible for traveling back and forth between the hive and their food and water sources. They carry these resources back to the hive, ensuring the health and well-being of the hive through consistent sustenance. 

The forager bees venture out to nearby flowers in full bloom, which contain nectar—a sugary liquid plants secrete to attract animals and encourage pollination. This sugary liquid consists of approximately 70% to 80% water and a combination of various sugars, including sucrose, glucose, and fructose. 

Once the bees find flowering plants, they extract the nectar out of the flower using their proboscis, a straw-like tongue. They store the nectar in the first chamber of their stomach, known as the proventriculus. 

While they buzz around searching for more nectar, an enzyme called invertase breaks down the nectar’s sucrose into simpler glucose and fructose molecules. Additional enzymes raise the acidity of the nectar, effectively killing bacteria. 

Surprisingly, these bees can carry up to half their body weight in nectar, allowing them to forage further from the hive and create plenty of delicious honey.

 

Inside the Hive: From Nectar to Honey

Collecting the nectar is only half the battle. Once the forager bees return to the hive with a stomach full of nectar, they regurgitate it. The house bees pass it along through the hive, using a mouth-to-mouth transfer process to reduce water levels. 

The bees continue passing it along until the water content drops considerably lower. They deposit the honey in the honeycomb and further reduce the water content of the nectar by fanning their wings. 

At this point, the water content has dropped below 20%, so bacteria cannot grow, and the nectar has become honey. The texture thickens as the original water content has dropped significantly, leaving behind primarily sugar. 

Once it reaches the desired consistency, the bees seal each honeycomb cell with a wax capping. Just like that, the honey is ready to be used or stored indefinitely.

 

The Science Behind the Sweetness: Honey Formation

Creating honey from flower nectar is no small feat. The bees work carefully to produce this golden treat, but how does it happen? It comes down to an intricate scientific process that converts the liquid nectar into thick, viscous golden honey. 

The science behind honey formation relies on enzymes and supersaturation. Nectar has a high water content, but honey consists primarily of glucose and fructose. Scientists call it a supersaturated solution, as a significant amount of sugar is dissolved in a small amount of liquid. 

To create a supersaturated liquid, the bees employ heat, enzymes, and acids. 

The bees also use a process called hydrolysis to convert the complex sugars found in nectar into simple sugars. This eliminates much of the water through evaporation and creates a thick, sugary result. While creating a similar effect in a chemistry lab would be tricky, the bees do it with ease. 

When the bees gather the nectar, they produce an enzyme called invertase from their salivary glands, which helps speed up the biochemical reaction. As they pass the nectar along, each bee adds more invertase, helping to change the sucrose into glucose and fructose. 

As the process continues, they add other enzymes, including amylase, glucose oxidase, and catalase, to further accelerate the process. Between the regurgitation process and passage between house bees, the water content in the nectar significantly drops, eventually creating the thick, yummy substance we call honey. 

 

Manukora’s Touch: Premium Honey

Bees do an excellent job creating honey, but not all honey is created equally. Environmental factors, processing strategies, and similar factors can detract from the quality of the final product, potentially resulting in sub-par honey. 

At Manukora, we let the bees’ efforts shine through. We employ what we call The Art of Ethical Beekeeping, allowing the bees to flourish in their natural environment by using old-school beekeeping practices.

These practices hinge on key tenets, including:

  • Careful placement of the hives to minimize transportation that could disrupt the hive.
  • Remote location to ensure access to abundant Manuka tea trees.
  • Strong relationships with our beekeepers to promote the health and well-being of the hives and bees.
  • Specific harvest amounts to ensure the hives have at least 30 pounds of honey remaining to sustain them through the cooler months.
  • Delicate harvest and extraction process to keep the honey and bees in peak condition.

When we harvest the honey, we leave it as we find it, ensuring it arrives on your doorstep like it's fresh from the hive. We skip excessive pasteurization, heat treatment, and fine filtration, giving you premium raw honey, just as nature intended. 

 

Closing Thoughts

The process of making honey is fascinating, showcasing the remarkable, awe-inspiring capabilities of the bees. Each step, from collecting nectar to the careful passing process, contributes to the final product: a golden, delicious treat that offers the perfect touch of sweetness to all sorts of foods and beverages. 

At Manukora, we strive to preserve the quality of honey by employing ethical beekeeping practices, allowing us to deliver premium honey that is both healthy and delicious.

Delve into the world of Manukora, where the magic of Manuka honey comes to life, like in our Manuka Honey UMF 24+ MGO 1123, a testament to the meticulous care and science behind every jar. Conveniently enjoy the sweetness of our honey with the MGO 850 10-pack Stick Packets, perfect for on-the-go indulgence.

Our Manuka Honey MGO 200 offers a gentler taste for those new to Manuka honey. Explore our Honey Guide to learn astonishing 7 Facts about Manuka Honey, understand the pivotal role of the Queen Bee in the hive, and discover the rich Manuka Honey Traditions that have shaped our practices.

Lastly, appreciate the crucial flora in our environment that sustains these magnificent creatures in our guide on Plants for Honey Bees.

So, next time you indulge in a spoonful of mouthwatering honey, remember the bees’ hard work, science, and commitment that goes into each jar.



Sources

How Do Bees Make Honey?

The Chemistry of Honey

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