The Natural Sweetener
Honey is produced in East Tennessee from April through September. There is basicly two periods. The main flow from April through June and a smaller one at higher elevations (mainly Sourwood) July through September.
Honey is a super saturated solution, composed primarily of simple sugars dissolved in water. Water makes up approx. 17 % of honey. The main sugars in honey are Levulose (approx. 38%), and Dextrose (approx. 31%). Together these three make up approximately 86% of honey.
The field bees gather nectar, going from flower to flower. They bring this nectar back to the hive where it is "ripened". Ripening converts the complex sugars in nectar, into simple sugars. Ripening also reduces the water content to around 17%.
Once the honey is fully ripened it is sealed away in honeycomb for use when there is no nectar coming in. The bees actually prefer nectar to honey.
What beekeepers do is remove the honey from the hive and prepare it for marketing. In the case of liquid honey the covering is removed from the honeycombs and the honey removed from the combs. This is usually done by placing the frames, containing the honey, into a centrifuge that slings the honey out. The honey is then strained to remove large bits of wax and other debris. It is then allowed to sit for a day or so to let any fine particles settle out. It is then ready for bottling. Chunk honey is liquid honey into which is placed a piece of unopened comb. Comb honey is unopened comb that is cut into a square and boxed for sale. Ross Rounds are round circular plastic inserts into which the bees build comb and store honey. The beekeeper then removes the inserts and installs covers to protect the exposed surfaces. Creamed honey is honey that has crystallized. This happens naturally, or can be encouraged by adding some already crystallized honey. Much like sourdough is made by adding starter. Most of the world gets their honey in this form.