WTF? (All About Honey Production)

Moisture Level

Simply put, honey is nectar from flowers, processed with the bee enzymes and concentrated to the perfect moisture level.

Nectar is the reward honeybees receive for helping flowers “conjugate the verb” with each others’ pollen. After numerous ménages à trois, the forager bee returns to the hive and transfers her bounty to house bees. While her nectar delivery is sugar-rich, it is very diluted, with an 80% water content. The house bees transform it into honey in stages.

The nectar must be stored in a more efficient state before capping. Ergo, its viscosity needs to be increased. First, the house bees add enzymes, which break down the complex sugars. Next, they deposit the nectar in hexagonal cells. Using their wings, hundreds of house bees team up and furiously fan out the moisture. Once the nectar thickens to approximately 17.6% or less, they cap the resulting honey.

Moisture content is mission-critical at Killer Bees Honey. Honey is hygroscopic, easily absorbing moisture from the surrounding atmosphere. Many impatient beekeepers will pull the frames of honey before they’re capped. Or, large beekeeping packers will store honey supers for weeks at a time before extraction. These foolish errors raise the honey’s moisture content.

Why is that a problem? Honey with a high moisture content has a thin texture and eventually tastes sour. Honey with a moisture level of 20% or higher will ferment into alcohol. No bueno. That’s not honey, it’s mead. We won’t tempt the FAA into grounding our bees for flying while inebriated.

At Killer Bees Honey, we pull the honey when the bees tell us it’s ready – when all the frames are capped. The honey is extracted within 24 hours of taking it off the hive. Using a digital refractometer, Killer Bees Honey proudly displays the precise percentage of moisture from each batch of honey. We guarantee that our honey will never exceed an 18% moisture level.

 Pollen Count & True Nectar Value

According to the International Bee Commission, to warrant a “unifloral” honey label, it should contain at least 45% of its pollen from a single, primary nectar source. The North Carolina Bee Keepers Association goes even further; “Based on pollen analysis, at least 51% of the honey must come from the labeled floral source and must accurately represent the labeled floral source in color, odor and flavor.”

The floral source on honey labels in stores or at farmers markets may have absolutely no relationship to the jars’ contents. Most beekeepers just guess what type of honey their bees produce. They may see an abundant field of clover teaming with bees and assume their predominant honey is clover, but this is likely wrong.

Pollen markers are the only quantifiable method of knowing honey’s True Nectar Value (TNV). A sample of each batch of Killer Bees Honey is analyzed by Dr. Vaughn M. Bryant, Professor of Melissopalynology (the study of pollen in honey) at Texas A&M, who has written extensively on pollen markers in honey.

Killer Bees Honey consistently has sourwood TNV in the mid-80% range. This kind of purity in a monofloral honey is nearly impossible to achieve, and even harder to buy.

When we say that honey as killer as ours is rare, it’s not a slogan. It’s science


Propolis, better known as “bee glue” by beekeepers, is a sticky, brown residue collected by bees to seal the cracks and coat the interior of a hive. Individual insects don’t possess strong immune systems. Because members of a beehive are confined and in close contact with one another, illness in one bee can swiftly infect the entire bee population. Biologists classify honeybee colonies as super organisms. Similar to the human bodies immune system, this super organism of honeybees produces their own antibiotic –propolis, to prevent microbial infection of honey stores, combs and larvae. You could say honeybees were all about their progeny before the phrase, “It’s for the children!” was ever uttered by the first prehistoric, liberal hominid.