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So how is our favourite honey made ?
Most of us already know that honey is not made by humans but by honey bees using nectar. This may sound preety simple but in contrast the whole prodecure is very complicated and it is one of the many studies of the amazing science called apiculture.
First of all , a honey bee known as Apis mellifera (latin term) is a social insect that belongs to the family Apidae which is part of the class Hymenoptera. They live in a community called a colony inside a natural or human-made beehive. Their population is characterised by social differentiation and that's why we have three types of bees (castes) the Queen bee , the Worker bees and the Drones.
Honey is just one of the final products that a well-balanced and healthy colony can compose and the main purpose of an apiarist's work. A worker bee during the age of 22-42 days is responsible for tracking flowers ,plants and water resources in order to gather nectar ,pollen ,propolis and water.
Bees use 3 enzymes that cause the chemical changes during the conversion of nectar to honey.
Those enzymes are :
i)Diastase that digests starch to simpler compounds.However ,its function in honey is not clear until now.
ii)Invertase that hydrolyzes sucrose to fructose and glucose. Those monosaccharides give honey its sweetness.
iii)Glucose Oxidase that metabolises glucose to gluconic acid ,which is the main acid of honey, and hydrogen peroxide which contributes to the antibacterial properties of honey.
You can clearly understand why honey is so healthy.
After the chemical reactions the mature honey is transferred to a house bee. Inside a cell she with her mouthparts , processes honey reducing its water content until 17-18%. Last but not least , mature honey is sealed tightly in the cell with wax to prevent absorption of moisture.
Now honey can be collected ,wrapped and be put on your bread giving you all the benefits that mother nature provides us.All this happens thanks to the bees and their marvellous society.
It's quite amazing that such small organisms are able to contruct such a balanced and advanced society and it's more amazing to find out that they are just one small portion of the millions insect species. So there is so much more to find out!
This is my first article so please be gentle with me :)