Everyone knows how sweet honey is, and that is why lovers use this word to call one another. Nevertheless, honey is produced by honeybees, and it looks like a syrupy substance. Bees produce honey from the nectar of flowers. We love honey so much because of its wide usages, like how it is used as a spread and sweetener.
Honey contains mineral salts, wax, pollen, water (17-80%) and glucose and fructose (76-80%). The colour and composition highly depend on the type of flowers that supply the nectar. For example, when a honeybee uses clover and alfalfa nectars, it will produce white honey. Sainfoin and acacia provide straw colour, lavender produces amber hue, and heather produces reddish-brown.
A normal bee colony will produce honey of about 27.2 to 45.4 Kg (60 to 100 lb.) per year. Honeybee colonies are divided into three factions, the queen (one), drones (2,000), and workers (50,000 to 70,000). The worker bees only live about 3 to 6 weeks, each collecting about a teaspoon of nectar. 0.454 kg (1 lb.) of honey needs about 1.8 Kg (4 lb.) of nectar; for this to be collected, it needs about 2 million flowers.
The Manufacturing Process
1. Collecting honeycombs – the first step of honey manufacturing is collecting honeycombs. The beekeeper will wear protective honey collecting gear, before starting extracting honeycombs. It is important to note that the moment bees discover that they have been separated from their queen, they enter the brood chamber and do not re-enter the honey camber. The separator board is inserted approximately 2 to 3 hours before honeycomb is collected.
2. Testing the honeycomb – the second step is testing the comb through shaking. The beekeeper will shake the comb to see if honey spurts out. If it does, it is reinstalled into the chamber for a few more days. Also, 1/3 of the honey must be left in the hive for the colony to feed.
3. Removing bees and scraping caps – after extracting honeycombs, they are placed into a transport box and taken to a bee-free room. Using long uncapping forks, the beekeeper will scrape the caps on each side of the honeycomb.
4. Extracting honey – after uncapping the combs, they are then placed into the extractor. An extractor is a huge drum that uses centrifugal force to draw out honey. The honey is directed into drums that are ready for commercial distributors.
Processing and Bottling
1. Heating Process – while at the commercial distributor, the honey will be poured into tanks and then heated to 48.9°C (120°F) to clear crystals. This temperature will be maintained for 24 hours.
Some manufacturers prefer flash-heating the honey to 73.8°C (165°F) and then running it through a filter paper and then flash cooling it back to 48.9°C (120°F). This process is often done quickly, and it only takes a few seconds.
Although heating processes eliminate some of the honey’s healthful properties, consumers prefer lighter, brighter-coloured honey. About 5% of the honey is left unfiltered. This creates darker and cloudier results. There is a market for the unprocessed honey as well.
2. Bottling process – at the end of each processing method, the honey is bottled (either cans or jars). After this process, the finished package is then transported to retail shops, stores, and industrial customers.
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