From Plant, To Bee, To Hive

Honeybees collect nectar, pollen and water to make honey which is used by the colony as their carbohydrate food source. Worker bees suck up the nectar through their proboscis and carry it in their honey stomach to return to the hive.

The nectar is mixed with an enzyme in the honey stomach that begins to turn the complex sugars in nectar into the simple sugars found in honey. This is then regurgitated and passed onto another bee who will continue the process until the sugars have turned. It is then stored in a honeycomb cell. Other worker bees will then fan their wings in front of the open cells to evaporate any excess water. This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation. The ripe honey is then ‘capped’ with wax to prevent contamination and stored for future use by the bees.

In a day, one worker bee can produce enough honey to cover the tip of a pin – or in a lifetime, one teaspoon!! 1kg of honey requires foraging visits to about 1 million blossoms.

Average Nutritional Values of honey.

Water 17%
Fructose 40.6%
Glucose 34.3%
Sucrose 1.9%
Maltrose, melezitose 4.35%
Dextrines and gums 1.6%
Mineral traces 0.25%

And also contains: Vitamins B2, B6, C, H, K and varying trace elements depending of the nectar and soil composition of the source plant.

Single Origin and Multi-floral Honeys

The colour and flavour of different honeys comes from the original nectar the bees were collecting. Some honeys are very dark (such as Avocado or Rainforest honey).  Others are very light (Grey Box, Ironbark). Single Origin honeys (where the bees have foraged on one species of blossom only) generally produce a distinctive flavour that can be easily recognised.  Ironbark honey has a nice woody tone, whereas Avocado honey is much richer with tannins on the endnote.

Multi-floral honeys are generally more complex in flavour. For example, honey from the wildflowers can have floral tones, zesty tones and woody tones all in the one spoonful.

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