Nectar and honeydew
Nectar and honeydew, what is it?
Flowers, in order to reproduce, need to be “pollinated”, to receive on their pistil (female element) the pollen, a powder produced by the stamens (male elements) of other flowers. This pollination is done mainly by bees, which, while foraging from flower to flower, carry the pollen in their legs and deposit it on the pistils.
To attract these indispensable foragers, flowers produce a substance called nectar, a subtle mixture of water and sugars secreted by the nectaries (glandular excrescences generally located inside the flowers). The forager bee sucks it up with its proboscis, stores it in its crop, where the natural enzymes in its saliva come into play, and transports it to the hive.
Like nectar, bees collect honeydew, which they transform into honey in the same way. More complex than nectar, this substance is obtained by an intermediary, generally an aphid: the aphid bites the plant, feeds on its sap and rejects the surplus in the form of sugary droplets that attach themselves to the leaves. Plants and trees that host aphids, such as firs, spruces, oaks, maples, lime trees, but also wheat trees, are thus real sources of honey.
The natural alchemy
Nectars or honeydew, the bee transforms these substances by mixing them with its salivary secretions. Within the hive, they undergo numerous transfers from crop to crop and from cell to cell, by successive restitutions. Little by little, they are enriched with biological constituents, transformed and concentrated thanks to a natural alchemy, unique to the bee world. It is difficult to evaluate the annual production of a bee, but it is estimated that a hive produces 20 to 30 kg of honey per year for an average population of 30 000 bees.
Thus, a one kg pot of honey represents for the forager bee about 200 days of work and 40,000 km travelled to gather about 800,000 flowers!
By definition, honey is an entirely natural product which is sufficient by itself and contains no additives or preservatives. The date indicated on the jars is an indication of freshness, the honey can be preserved for several years while keeping its original aroma and taste characteristics. According to the European legislation, the simple word “honey” on a packaging is sufficient to ensure the consumer a 100% natural origin. The conformity of the products is moreover regularly controlled by approved laboratories.