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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2008

Helpful Honey

Honey—the sweet, golden liquid that has delighted young and old alike since the beginning of time (Genesis 43:11; Mark 1:6). Honey is much sweeter than table sugar, so most microorganisms cannot grow in it because of its low water content. But where does this amazing food come from and how is it made?

It all begins when bees buzz forth from their hive, traveling as much as 55,000 miles and visiting more than two million flowers, to gather nectar from blossoms. Then they return to one of the world’s most efficient factories—the beehive. There they use their specially designed stomachs to ingest, modify, and process (regurgitate) the nectar several times. After the final regurgitation, the honey is stored in honeycomb—a type of wax that certain worker bees secrete. Nectar is high in both water content and natural yeasts, which would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment. To stop this from happening, bees fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb to cause much of the water from the nectar to evaporate. Then the honeycomb is sealed.

Now the honey may be used by the bees for energy, or it may be harvested by people to eat. The color and flavor of honey differs depending on what types of flower blossoms provided the nectar. In fact, there are more than 300 unique kinds of honey in the United States. Honey can be made from many different flowers, including Clover, Eucalyptus, Orange Blossoms, Avocado, Alfalfa, and even Blueberry flowers.

There’s no question that God designed the honeybee and the honey that bees produce (Genesis 1:30). God told the Israelites that He would bring them out of Egypt and take them to “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17), meaning that the land would be bountiful and blessed. The Philistines asked Samson, “What is sweeter than honey?” (Judges 14:18). As sweet as honey is, always remember that the psalmist said God’s words are sweeter and more desirable than honey and the honeycomb (Psalm 19:10). He exclaimed: “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

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