The raw material for honey is produced by bees. After removal from the combs, the raw honey is taken to the factory. After heating, the honey is bottled and has a long shelf life.
Honey is a sweet, golden syrup-like substance. Honey is produced by honey bees. The bees collect nectar from flowers, from which they produce honey. The composition of honey is 76-80% glucose, 17-20% water, it also contains fructose, pollen, wax and mineral salts. The composition and appearance depend on the type of flower used.
The bees live in colonies. A bee colony of 27-45 kg of honey per year. For every kilo of honing, 4 kg of nectar is required. The bees make ready-to-eat honey in the beehives. However, this honey is darker and cloudy. Only 5% of the total honey market consists of untreated honey. The production process of treated honey is shown below.
Production process of honey
The bees suck nectar from the flowers and collect this nectar is special pockets 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. As the bee collected sufficient nectar, she returns to the beehive. There she empties here honey pockets in a empty cell of the honeycomb. Several bees fill the cell and finally close it with bee wax.
Emptying of honeycombs
The bee keeper can empty the honeycomb if she 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 to 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 angry bees are guaranteed. Secondly, the bees can be stupefied with fume. Disadvantage: the honey bees try to recover as much honey as possible. They open the cells and recover honey. 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 honey
After 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 factory
The several steps described above are done at the bee keepers place. After collecting the crude honey, it is transported to the factory for further treatment.
In the factory, the honey is subjected to a double heat treatment. Both must purify the honey. First, the honey is heated to 50°C. 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. They are removed. Then the honey is heated quickly to 75°C. It is filtrated and cooled immediately to 50°C. This second step takes only 7 seconds. In the filter, undesired substances are removed. The honey is heated to 75°C as it is more liquefied, favoring filtration.
During these purifying heating steps, the honey looses some healthy substances. But, a clear, lightly yellow honey is wanted.
The honey has 50°C during filling, as the product is less viscous. Filling occurs in glass jars. Thanks to the high sugar content and the low aw, the shelf life is several months till 1 year. Microbiologically there are no problems. In the long run, shelf life is determined through taste problems due to oxidation, enzymatic reactions or crystallization of sugars.