It seems that winter doesn’t want to let go of southern Alberta but that’s okay with our bees! They are still in their cozy hives and every bit of moisture will help the spring nectar flow. We, on the other hand, were hoping for an early spring!
Inside the hive much of the bees honey supply has crystallized. This may sound strange to those people who dislike the gritty texture - why don’t the bees make an effort to keep their own honey runny? And how does it get that way in the first place?
The bees process nectar to ensure its longevity in hive conditions. They dehydrate it to about 17% moisture and divide the remaining sucrose into its original components of fructose and glucose. The ratio of the later two depends entirely on the nectar source. Glucose easily forms crystals from nuclei such as a grain of pollen or a speck of wax and thus the higher the glucose level, the quicker it will crystallize. Think Dandelion honey versus Fireweed honey. Either way, the bees are more than happy with it in solid form. Although many people may think that crystallized honey has been adulterated, the reverse is actually true. Mankind has com up with a few different ways to keep honey liquid- and most of them degrade the honey. Whether it’s heat treatment, ultrasound, microwave, filtration, ultrafiltration or the use of food additives it isn’t as natural as it started. So the next time you frown at crystallized honey remember if it’s good enough for the bees it’s good enough for you!