Honey Is A Sweet Deal

| 8/13/2014 9:45:00 AM

Tags: Honey, Bees, Natural Sweetener, Nectar, Lois Hoffman,

Country MoonIt seems like the more hype there is about any form of sugar not being good for you, the more my sweet tooth craves it. Honey just may be the right compromise. It has basically the same sweetness as granulated sugar, but is actually healthier for you.

Basically, honey can replace sugar in baking, canning and many other recipes with only a few adjustments. When baking, honey can replace sugar cup for cup but remember to reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup for every cup of honey, lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over browning, and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda because honey is naturally acidic and soda tempers it. When making a sugar syrup for canning, replace half the sugar with honey.

The particular flavor of honey will depend on what type of nectar the bees use. I have to admit that the process bees go through to make honey is a little on the disgusting side but not enough to make me swear off this sweet sensation.

Bees transfer nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. The worker bees work in groups and regurgitate the pollen that they have collected a number of times until it is partially digested and then they deposit it in honeycomb cells. At this point the solution is still high in water so they fan their wings over the honeycomb to enhance evaporation. The reduction in water raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation.

The honeycomb is actually masses of hexagonal cells built by the bees to store honey and larvae. Honey is the bees’ food source and the process to make it is quite an intricate cycle. Bees consume 8.4 pounds of honey to secrete 1 pound of wax, which is used to make the honeycomb to store more honey. Beekeepers often return the wax to the hive after pulling the honey or robbing the bees, as harvesting the honey is referred to.

So, just how do you get to that sweet delicacy without being stung up the wazoo? It is a pretty simple process called smoking the bees. The bees detect the smoke and think there is a forest fire threat, which would destroy their resources. They are far less aggressive when their prime objective is to save their food source. While they are busy, the honey is removed from the hive and extracted.

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