Narrabri Public School’s Camilla Kennedy asked a ‘bee-aut’ of a science question during Australian Pollinator Week last November, and Dr Bec thought it was so brilliant she decided to answer it for everyone.

Q: Why is honey sweet?

Honey’s sweetness is a delightful result of a remarkable collaboration between bees and flowers.

Bees, those incredible little architects of nature, embark on a journey to collect nectar from flowers.

Nectar, resembling a sweet juice, serves as a tempting reward for bees and other pollinators, enticing them to visit and help the flowers in their reproductive process.

Once the bees return to their hive with their nectar-filled bounty, the bees mix the nectar with enzymes from their bodies, initiating a chemical dance that breaks down the complex sugars within the nectar into simpler sugars, with sucrose being one of them.

Sucrose is the very same sugar found in our sugar bowls at home, and it plays a key role in giving honey its sweet taste.

As the bees diligently collaborate, fanning their wings and evaporating water from the nectar, the once liquid substance thickens and metamorphoses into the golden goodness we know as honey.

The bees store this liquid gold in hexagonal honeycomb cells, carefully constructed within the hive.

Over time, the water content decreases even further, contributing to the thick and rich consistency that makes honey so delectably sweet.

When we savour honey, our taste buds perceive the sweetness derived from the sucrose and other sugars present in this natural nectar.

However, the fascination of honey extends beyond its sweetness. What makes honey truly special is its unique flavour, influenced by the specific types of flowers the bees visited.

Depending on the floral landscape in the area, honey can boast diverse tastes, ranging from fruity and floral to subtly tangy.

Honey’s sweetness is a testament to the ingenious alchemy performed by bees, transforming the sugary nectar from flowers into a concentrated, flavourful syrup.

It not only tantalises our taste buds but also serves as a captivating reminder of the extraordinary processes that unfold in the heart of nature.

Narrabri-based scientist Dr Bec Thistlethwaite will contribute a fortnightly column to The Gunnedah Times on the science in our daily lives. Readers are invited to send their science questions in to Dr Bec via [email protected]

To order photos from this page click here