This Week's Topic: Honey
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Honey // is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to, as it is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bees and insects has distinctly different properties.
Honey is produced by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when fresh food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy. By contriving for bee swarms to nest in artificial hives, people have been able to semidomesticate the insects, and harvest excess honey.
In the hive (or in a wild nest), there are three types of bees:
The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. Leaving the hive, they collect sugar-rich flower nectar and return.
In the hive, the bees use their "honey stomachs" to ingest and regurgitate the nectar a number of times until it is partially digested....The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation and digestion until the product reaches a desired quality. It is then stored in honeycomb cells. After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. However, the nectar is still high in both water content and natural yeasts, which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment. The process continues as bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb, which enhances evaporation of much of the water from the nectar. This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper, has a long shelf life, and will not ferment if properly sealed.
Honey produced from flowers of oleanders, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, sheep laurel, and azaleas may cause honey intoxication. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, nausea, and vomiting. Less commonly, low blood pressure, shock, heart rhythm irregularities, and convulsions may occur, with rare cases resulting in death. Honey intoxication is more likely when using "natural" unprocessed honey and honey from farmers who may have a small number of hives. Commercial processing, with pooling of honey from numerous sources, is thought to dilute any toxins.
* * * * *
Hmm, I guess I never knew exactly how bees made honey, but regurgitation doesn't sound very appetizing. But I guess when you think about where a lot of our food comes from... well, I'll leave it at that.
Meanwhile, toxic honey? Why was there never a Winnie The Pooh story about that? Or is that what caused the Heffalumps and Woozles to appear? Ya know....