For some reason, there is an assumption that honey is actually ‘bee vomit’ or ‘bee poo’. It is a very common misconception, but not entirely incorrect. It is a little more complex than you may first assume. The difference is what we believe ‘vomit’ to be.
We see vomit, sick, or barf as digested food that comes back up from our stomachs. So, you could say that a bird feeds its young ‘vomit’ as it regurgitates it’s food which has been partially digested and softened to make it easier for the baby to consume.
So, why is there confusion about whether honey is bee vomit? Let’s get into it.
How Do Bees Make Honey?
Well, it all comes from the way that bees produce honey.
Bees are super remarkable creatures, and they are responsible for pollinating a significant portion of the world’s plant life and crops (that we eat). As a byproduct, bees produce honey. Honey is only produced by honeybees, which are members of the Apidae family.
The process of making honey begins with the bees collecting nectar from flowers. Nectar is a sugary liquid that is produced by flowers which is harvested by the bee’s long tongues to suck up the nectar from the flowers and they store it in a purpose-built sac called ‘the crop’, which is located in their throats. This may be where the confusion comes from.
Once the bee’s crop is full of delicious nectar, it heads on back to the hive where it regurgitates the nectar into the mouth of another bee (lovely). The process is repeated several times which means that each bee ends up adding its own enzymes to the mix (enzymes help to break down the complex sugars in the nectar into simpler sugars, which makes it easier for the bees to digest).
The bees deposit the honey into small cells which are made from beeswax (which the bees make themselves) and use their winds to evaporate the water in the nectar which starts to turn the honey into the form we all know and love; a thick and golden loveliness. This process doesn’t happen right away and actually can take several days to get it to the perfect consistency. Once the honey is perfect, the bees cap off the cell with more wax to create a pocket of honey.
This is where humans come in.
Final Thoughts – Is it Vomit or Poo?
So, after we know a little bit about the way in which money is made, we can say for certain that honey is certainly not ‘bee poo’, but you can see why many may say that it is bee ‘vomit’.
Well, there is a difference between the way in which bees produce honey which means that it is not ‘bee vomit’. While the bees harvest and store the nectar in their throats, and enzymes are used to break down the honey, the process of honey production does not enter the bee’s digestive system; therefore, it is not vomit. The bees have a completely separate biological structure to enable them to create honey.
It is also true that the bees do regurgitate the honey, and share it between themselves. If this freaks you out, then fine. But the purpose-built honey production ensures that honey is not vomit, but a beautiful byproduct of these remarkable beings.