The Truth About Honey

Honey is not bee poop. Nor is it bee vomit. I want to settle this issue once and for all.

A bee’s body contains a honey sac which is separate and apart from her stomach and intestines. A foraging bee collects nectar in her honey sac and brings it back to the hive for processing into honey. Her stomach and intestines are not involved in this procedure.

When foraging bees bring nectar into the hive, it contains about 80% water. The house bees must then reduce the moisture content to approximately 18% to make honey.

But that’s not all the bees do. They supply enzymes which give honey its unique properties.

These enzymes begin working on the nectar as soon as the foraging bee takes it into her honey sac. Upon returning to to hive, she transfers the nectar to a house bee and takes off for another load.

The house bee, in turn, takes the nectar into her body, adding more enzymes and continuing the curing process. She and other house bees deposit the honey into open comb cells for evaporation. Then, often at night, the colony gathers at the hive entrance to evaporate the water by fanning their wings.

Bees will not cap honey until it reaches the proper amount of moisture. Uncapped honey is said to be “green” and tends to ferment. Beekeepers generally harvest no more than 10% “green” honey in order to avoid spoiling the whole lot.

Honey keeps almost indefinitely if stored properly, and needs no pasteurization or other processing. It is said to be the only food that requires no digestion and passes directly into the bloodstream.

Honey comes in many colors, ranging from nearly colorless to almost black. Dark honeys are considered more nutritious, having a higher protein and mineral content. Most honey is sweeter than sugar, and less is required in cooking. Its flavor and aroma varies depending upon the flowers from which it was produced.

Honey is widely acclaimed as a health food, and has many medicinal applications. It is antiseptic and is used on wounds and burns to promote healing.   It has also been alleged that a teaspoon at bedtime prevents bed wetting. Presumably, this is not a problem for bees.

Brother Adam who developed the Buckfast bee was said to have consumed a teaspoon of honey every day.  He lived to be 98.

Honey is unquestionably the bees’ little miracle, and we should give it the respect it deserves!

24 thoughts on “The Truth About Honey

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Great post. From what I’ve read nectar can vary widely in its sugar content depending on the species of plant, or even the same plant can vary in how sugary its nectar is depending on how sunny the day is. 20% sugar would be quite a low reward nectar for the bees, they will prefer to go for a 40-50% nectar if it’s available, the more sugar the better, they have no teeth to worry about!

  2. Emily Heath says:

    It’s a funny image isn’t it! Especially if they were grinning at you.

  3. *Sigh* I wish I had a honey stomach, imagine how much honey you could eat! I do have teeth.

  4. Great post. I had some friends who were quite worried that ‘bee honey’ had ‘bee babies’ in it, so explained about the queen excluders and supers and so on. Some funny misconceptions people have about honey, but there is still so much to learn about this wonderful yummy golden stuff!

  5. Lazy T Ranch says:

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  8. Charles Terrebonne says:

    Hello Deborah! Love your bee blog. Do you still have the bulk seeds for the five plants bees love at $10.00 for 100 each? Please advise via e-mail. Thx in advance.

  9. honeypi says:

    I am not bothered, but by definition, since it is stored in the “honey stomach” & later disgorged, isn’t that still technically vomit?

    • its not a stomach and its not attached to the digestion tract. what you are suggesting is about as logical as saying that mothers poop out their babies. babies dont come from the rectum, different system entirely.

  10. Handy Andy says:

    We should all give some honey back to the bees. They need our help now.

  11. Leilani Mahone says:

    that was soooo helpful

  12. I call my baby hunni a lot an
    some one told me it was bee sh@t and I had to look it up.Because I m going to put the nick name i gav him on a shirt and he can’t rep that if it was to be true.No I know the treu meaning t shirt here it comes

  13. SdW says:

    The tastiest honey that I ever had was from the Smoky Mountains. Delicious, dark, and made of clover flowers. The small store was located on a car trail called “Cades Cove Loop Road”, or near it.

  14. Tish says:

    Oh so it’s ok to steal the honey after all the work they go to? Or was that not the point of this very long and quite boring article? Just trying to prove a point that “the honey does In fact belong to us humans” …. Jesus

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