Honey is one of those amazing organic foods that's not only natural and tasty, it's actually a product that's good for you, too. And while most of us know that raw honey comes from bee hives, we probably aren't familiar with the huge variety of honey and how farmers take raw honey comb and manufacture a product that's naturally sweet and full of flavor. That simple jar of organic honey sitting in your cupboard is the result of a lot of hard work by everyone from the bees in the hive, to the farmer harvesting the beeswax to the company that distributes the products to stores. Before you've consumed that delicious honey pot, here are some common honey terms you should be familiar with.
Beeswax - This waxy product is made by worker bees and is used to build honeycombs inside the hive. Beeswax isn't consumed as food, but is used to make a number of products including lip balm and candles.
Nectar - This syrup like substance is produced by flowers and used by bees in honey production. Nectar from different plants gives honey very distinct flavors that are prized by honey enthusiasts.
Royal Jelly - A substance secreted by nurse bees and fed to the queen bee. It is also harvested by humans and used in nutritional supplements.
Worker Bees - Female bees that leave the hive to gather nectar from flowers for the queen. When you see a bee hovering around your yard, there's a good chance that it's a worker bee.
Honey, produced by bees, is a thick, sweet, yellowish liquid that is commonly used to sweeten food. It is harvested from honeycombs within bee hives through a process called extraction, packaged in jars, and sold on grocery store shelves. Many bee keepers collect and jar their own honey and sell it locally.
Honey wholesalers operate on a larger scale, for distribution across a region or country, or even across the globe. Consumers can buy from their local grocer or restaurant, or they can head to their local farm to get honey made closer to home. Some honey is organic, desired by people who prefer all natural and organically certified products.
Honey comes in many different forms, such raw, which is essentially the concentrated nectar of flowers. This pure form is unheated, unpasteurized, and unprocessed. If you prefer your honey from a grocery store, you can purchase a small or large bottle of the sweet stuff to add to your tea.
Wholesalers, manufacturers, and suppliers deal with retailers and other consumers, offering a bulk discount for large orders. These wholesalers and distributors may sell anything from bottled and raw honey to decorative pots and beeswax. Many food products contain honey, from cereals to graham crackers.
Surprisingly, the average worker bee makes a mere 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey production during its entire life. For just one pound of honey production, bees have to hit a whopping two million flowers. One might think that honey would be very expensive because of how long it takes to make, but it's not. It's actually cheap and makes an essential addition to any kitchen cupboard, with uses ranging from food flavoring to coloring.
You can learn more about the extraction process, get listings of distributors, and find out about beekeeping, formally called apiculture, on the web.