Honey is a natural sweetener. It is made by bees from the flowers of plants.
Foraging bees visit flower blossoms to suck the nectar into their long tongues and store it in their honey stomachs. When their honey stomachs are full (100 flowers yields a teaspoon of nectar), they return to the hive.
How it’s made
Honey starts as flower nectar, which contains sugars and scent chemicals produced by flowers to attract insect pollinators. Each droplet of nectar is sucked up by a bee through its long, straw-like tongue called a proboscis and stored in the first chamber of its stomach, where an enzyme named invertase breaks down the complex sugars into simple ones like glucose and fructose.
After the nectar has been reprocessed by the bee and stored, each cell of honey is capped with a layer of beeswax to keep it from spoiling or absorbing water from outside. This process is critical, because without it, bees would lose their ability to store and use honey.
When it’s time to harvest, beekeepers brush the bees off the frames of honeycomb and remove the wax caps (also known as cappings) using an uncapping knife – an electric machine used for large batches or a cold serrated knife dipped in water for small batches. They then place the frames into an extractor to spin them, separating honey from the honeycomb cells.
Once the honey comb is fully capped and the nectar flow season has ended, the time has come to harvest your honey. This can be done in a variety of ways; one popular method is to use a capping scratcher, electric uncapping knife or cold knife to remove the wax cap from each frame so the honey can drip out.
Another option is to spin the honey in a centrifuge honey spinner/extractor. These machines range from hand-cranked, room-sized models to large, industrial sized machines that are capable of spinning thousands of frames at once.
Before you start extracting, make sure all your equipment is sterilised and you have a good supply of clean honey bottles ready to fill. Also keep in mind that harvesting can be messy, so you may want to choose a clean room to work in. Make sure to label your jars and keep track of how much you are harvesting so you know when it’s time to put the rest away for next year.
A honey factory might not look like much from the outside, but it’s a bustling hive on the inside. There are many ways to process honey, but the main goal is to remove the bee pollen and other contaminates. This can be done using pressure-driven membrane processes (UF and MF), or conventional thermal processing.
Before the honey is extracted, it’s usually smoked to pacify the bees and keep them from returning to their hives with empty frames. This is also used to help prevent yeast activity.
Honey has a high viscosity, but it’s often heated and evaporated to reduce this. Heating can cause the honey to crystallize and reduce its quality.
Microwave and ultrasound heating of honey have been proposed as alternative methods to conventional thermal processing for the production of higher-quality honey. Bath and Singh  found that microwave heating of two types of honey increased the formation of HMF and browning, but only at higher power levels.
Honey lasts a long time due to its low water content, acidity, and a special enzyme that suppresses bacteria growth. If stored correctly, it can last decades. However, over time, honey can experience natural changes like crystallization or color darkening. This doesn’t mean it’s spoiling, but it’s no longer as tasty or clear as it was when first bottled.
To prevent these natural changes, store your honey in a cool, dry place. The ideal storage temperature is between 50degF and 70degF. Avoid storing honey in areas that are hot or have windows as exposure to light can impact its quality over time.
It’s also important to store your honey in glass or food-grade plastic containers. Metal containers should be avoided as they introduce unwanted moisture that could lead to fermentation or spoilage. When transferring your honey to new containers, be sure they are clean and free of any moisture by running them through a warm cycle in the dishwasher or by scrubbing them with a damp rag.