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Honey is a sweet, gold colored viscous substance. It is produced by honey bees. The bees collect nectar from flowers and produce honey out of this nectar. The composition of honey is 76-80% glucose, 17-20% water, small amounts fructose, pollen, wax and mineral salts. Composition and appearance depend on the flower the nectar is coming from.
|Production process of honey|
|Emptying of honeycombs|
|Liberation of honey|
|Transport to the factory|
Bees live in colonies. Each year a bee population produces 27-45 kg honey. For 1 kg honey 4 kg nectar is needed. The bees produce ready-eatable honey in a beehive. The honey is usually dark and turbid. Only 5% of the honey market contains untreated honey. The production process of untreated honey is described below.
Production process of honey
Collecting nectarThe bees suck nectar from the flowers and collect this nectar in special bags in their belly. The nectar is transported through their body. During this transport, water is removed from the nectar. Moreover, enzymes are supplied to the nectar. When the bee collected sufficient nectar she returns to the beehive. There she empties here honey bags in a empty cell of the honeycomb. Several bees fill the cell and finally close it with bee wax.
Emptying of honeycombsThe bee keeper can empty the honeycomb if it is filled satisfactory, meaning two thirds of the cells are closed with bee wax. The bee keeper can control this by shaking the honeycombs. If too much honey leaves the cells, they are not completely closed.
To remove the honey out of the cells, the bee keeper must remove the honeycombs from the beehive. He can do this in three ways: Firstly he can chase away the bees out of the beehive. In this case some bees will get angry. Secondly, the bees can be stupefied with fume. Disadvantage: the bees try to recover as much honey as possible by opening the cells. As third method a separating wall can be brought between honey room and incubation room. When the bee queen is located in the incubation room all other bees will follow her.
Liberation of honeyAfter applying one of the described methods, the honey combs can be removed. The wax is removed with a scrap. The cells must remain intact. The honeycombs are placed in a centrifuge and the honey is removed out of the cells. This liberation process is started at low speed.
Transport to the factoryThe steps described above are done at the bee keepers home. After collecting the crude honey it is transported to the factory for further treatment.
HeatingIn the factory the honey is subjected to a double heat treatment. Both must purify the honey.
First the honey is heated to 50ºC. The crystals formed in the honey will melt. The honey is held at this temperature for 24 hours. Undesired substances like parts of bees and pollen will float and they are removed.
Then the honey is heated quickly to 75ºC, filtrated and cooled immediately to 50ºC. This second proces takes only 7 seconds. In the filter undesired substances are removed. The honey is heated to 75°C as it is more liquefied, favouring filtration.
During these purifying heating steps the honey looses some healthy substances. They are performed nevertheless because a clear, lightly yellow honey is wanted.