Honey: Spit, Puke, or POOP?
We all know that bees make honey, but the question is, how? My mom and I were having a discussion about honey being pasteurized vs. non-pasteurized, and I mentioned that uncorrupted honey had been found in Egyptian tombs, perfectly preserved over thousands of years. But, I said, the bigger question is how do bees make honey? Because, I noted, it can only be one of three things: bee spit, bee puke, or bee poop, since the bees don’t fly around with crockery or other containers to collect all that nectar.
Turns out that it’s both bee puke AND bee spit. The collector bees store nectar in a separate stomach (bees have two) and upon returning to the hive, other worker bees suck the nectar out of the collector bee’s stomachs (puke) and then “chew” it for a half hour (spit). The “chewing” adds enzymes that break down the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars more easily digested by bees, and also help keep the honey from becoming contaminated with bacteria. The bees then spread the processed nectar in the honeycomb to allow water to evaporate, a process they speed up by fanning it with their wings.
Hey, at least we haven’t been eating POOP for all these years.