Is Kick’n Honey the best bee vomit on earth? Let’s explore this...
Honey bees do indeed store nectar inside an internal organ called a “honey stomach”, but I’m also told it’s neither vomited nor pooped out during the transfer process at the hive.
Some may argue that nectar is spat out during that transfer process, but no saliva is mixed with the nectar.
Let’s take a deeper look... Honeybees are pollinators, as they collect nectar from flowers using their tongue. The bee then stores this nectar in its expandable honey stomach, also known as the foregut, crop, or sac.
The honey stomach stores two enzymes that mix with the nectar, beginning the honey production process. Once the honey stomach is full, the bee heads for home.
Once arriving at the hive, the honeybee regurgitates the nectar, passing it mouth-to-mouth to multiple other worker bees. During this transfer process, the bees fan the nectar with their wings, reducing the moisture content. Once the water content is between 13 and 18 percent, it is considered honey.
The bees then preserve the honey by storing it in capped honeycomb.
Sounds like vomit to me.
While regurgitation occurs as the honey passes from bee to bee, entomologist don’t consider it vomit. But, what do they know.
Inside the bee’s honey stomach, unwanted particles are filtered out with the help of a pulsating valve called the proventriculus. The particles are then swallowed into the bee’s mid-gut.
These particles can no longer return to the honey stomach, where the nectar is stored. So, bees pass the spitted out honey from bee to bee to filter the ‘not yet’ honey liquid. This process also drys the liquid out a bit, thus making it honey.
So, because the nectar would not be able to be regurgitated if passed to the midgut where the bee’s digestive system begins, we cannot consider it to be vomit.
Some confusion may come from call the storage sack inside a bee a “honey stomach”. Although it’s labeled a “stomach,” it’s more of a “pouch” located in the esophagus of the bee. Therefore regurgitation, not vomiting, is the correct term for the nectar transfer process.
Ok, had to Google that - here’s the difference between “yak” vs “puke”.
Vomiting is the ejection of contents of the stomach and upper intestine; regurgitation is the ejection of contents of the esophagus.
Is honey spit?
The nectar is mixed with two enzymes when it enters the “honey stomach”. But, it’s important to distinguish between saliva and the enzymes within that saliva.
Human saliva is primarily made of water.
The salivary glands of honey bees produce an oily secretion, and although there may be trace elements of water inside, it is not passed along to the honey stomach. The two enzymes, diastase and glucose oxidase, are components within the saliva and are the only two elements that mix with the nectar.
Therefore, we cannot consider nectar to be honey bee spit or saliva - it’s just nectar, mixed with enzymes that turns into honey. Case closed... not so fast.
Honeydew is poop and bees mix honeydew with nectar to make honey.
Many insects consume the sap stored inside leaves. These insects are looking for pure protein within the sap. The insect then defecates the other elements in the form of a sticky substance called honeydew.
Nectar is the preferred substance honeybees search for, but when there isn’t enough nectar in that location, the honeydew droppings and overripe fruit are alternatives the bees will work with.
This means that the honey you eat may be produced, in part, by insect poop.
Side note on the “honeydew”. Honeydew honey is prized stuff. It’s also called “forest honey”. Beekeepers can use a special test to determine honeydew content. If it reaches a specific level, you can sell it as honeydew honey and cash it.
Our conclusion? Well... Honey is a lot regurgitated goodness mixed with a little bit of bug poop and ours is the best on earth!