The Magic of Honey
There is special magic found in the wondrous process of honey. The dedication and unique skill of these extraordinary pollinators is a true wonder. This golden “ambrosia” of vitality and health is the result of a tireless collaboration of specialists capable of exceptional chemistry. So what is that mysterious process, and how do these honeybees produce this amazing life-sustaining liquid gold?
First, we must enter into the very heart of the flowers. As we learned in the Ancient History of Pollination, this is where the nectaries are created. The flowers offer up their sugary liquid to the bees with added mutual benefit for both. Mutualism is believed to be one of the most common ecological interactions in communities throughout the world. The forager bee drinks and fills their special honey stomach full of nectar and makes a beeline home.
Upon arrival to the hive, the nectar is transferred from one bee’s stomach to another in a process of regurgitation. With each transfer, a special bee enzyme (invertase) is added from each bee via the honey stomach. This is done repeatedly until the optimal viscosity is reached. Then the golden liquid is poured into a hexagon cell to be fanned on my rapidly beating wings. With 80% of the water content evaporated out, the hexagon is sealed with wax and set to cure into honey. This is now a supersaturated solution that contains over 180 components.
This “super” solution provides food and energy for foraging flights. To produce one pound of honey, it takes over 2 million flower visits, or roughly 55,000 miles flown. Nectar is gathered from a diverse array of sources helps maintain healthy immune systems.
The magic of honey is in the diversity of its unique processing and results in a multitude of benefits. From the extremely vast healing properties of honey, to the essential role the honey-making plays in the entire ecosystem of our food systems, honey is a sweet liquid reminder of the beauty of life itself.