Honey is a syrupy and sweet substance that is made by honeybees out of flower nectar. Humans use it as a spread and sweetener. Honey is made up of 76-80% glucose, 17-20% water, as well as mineral salts, pollen wax, and fructose. Its color and composition depend on the kind of flower supplying the nectar. For example, white honey is produced by clover and alfalfa, sainfoin and acacia produce a straw-coloured honey, lavender makes an amber hue, and a reddish-brown is made by heather.
An average of 27.2-45.4 kg of honey is produced by the typical bee colony per year. Labour inside a colony is divided up into three tiers: 50,000 to 70,000 workers, 2,000 drones, and one queen. Worker bees live for just three to six weeks, with each bee collecting approximately one teaspoon of nectar. To produce 0.454 kg (one pound) of honey requires 1.8 kg (4 pounds of nectar. Two million flowers are needed to collect this amount of nectar.
The following is the manufacturing process for honey:
1. The beekeeper puts on protective gloves and a veiled helmet to take out the honeycombs. Once the bees inside of the honey chamber realise they are separated from the queen, they go through a hatch into the brood chamber but they don’t go back into the honey chamber. This separator board gets inserted about two or three hours prior to removing the honeycomb.
The beekeeper shakes the comb to test it. If any honey spurts out, then the comb gets reinserted inside the honey chamber for a few more days. Around one-third of the honey gets left inside of the hive for the colony to feed on.
2. Honeycombs that are two-thirds capped at least get put into the transport box and moved into a room that has no bees in it. A long-handled uncapping fork is used by the beekeeper to scrape the caps off of both sides of the honeycomb over to a capping tray.
Honeycombs are then inserted inside of an extractor, which is a large drum that draws the honey out using centrifugal force. Equipment used at this stage is key to the process. Companies like FluxPumps provide this specialist gear.
As the extractor is spinning, the honey gets pulled up and out against the walls. Next, the honey gets poured inside drums and transported to a commercial distributing facility.
Processing and bottling honey
4. At the commercial distributing facility, honey is poured inside tanks and then heated to 48.9°C (120°F) in order to melt the crystals out. It is held at this temperature for one day (24 hours).
5. Next, most of the honey gets flashed heated to a temperature of 73.8°C (165°F), filtered through paper, and then gets flash cooled down to a temperature of 48.9°C (120°F). The procedure is performed quickly, in about seven seconds. Although some of honey’s healthful characteristics are removed by these heating procedures. consumers prefer the bright-coloured, lighter honey that is produced by the process.
A small percentage of around 5% of the honey is left unfiltered and is simply strained. This honey is cloudier and darker, but there is a small market for unprocessed honey.