Farm Fact Friday: Honey

It’s Farm Fact Friday, everyone! This week we’re talking about honey, a delicious, shelf-stable and antioxidant-rich food and sweetener made by the honeybee. Typically beekeepers keep bees in multi sectional boxes where bees make their home, made for easy and safe extraction of honey and bee tending.

Honey is made from the nectar bees collect as they pollinate flowers. Inside their honeycomb, it breaks down into sugars. The flapping of bees’ wings dries out the nectar, creating a thicker substance without much water content in it. This is why the wax caps the bees make are important, to keep the honey dry, since the lack of water is also why honey is antimicrobial. The antimicrobial properties of honey is why it was used in dressing wounds at one point, to protect the wound from infection.

Bees make more honey than they need once they have time to acclimate to their nest and area. So long as the beekeeper is using gentle methods (like using smoke to relax them, and using calm, slow motions) the bees are not hurt, and the honey extraction doesn’t harm them. Bees can make around 50 lbs of extra honey a year!

The beekeeper takes off the wax cap that protects the honey in each cell (beeswax) and places the honeycomb frame in an extractor, which uses centrifugal force (spinning away from the center) to extract the honey. The frames are reusable and able to be placed back in the bee home for bees to repeat the process.

Thanks to honey’s high sugar and low water make up, it can last for 1,000s of years with proper storage. Archaeologists have even tasted honey 1,000s of years old – still delicious and sweet! 

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