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Matt:

It is my understanding that bees make honey by evaporating the liquid component of nectar that they have collected. This sounds so simple. I have been wondering if anyone has ever attempted to duplicate the process artificially rather than messing around with dangerous, ill-tempered bees.

-- Larry Benjamin, San Diego

We's got bees for the same reason myself's got elfs. Dangerous? maybe; ill-tempered? definitely; willing to do tedious scut work for no pay? enuf said. Plant nectar is hidden, drop by drop, in tiny spaces in plants (nectarines, they're called). Do you volunteer to squeeze it out, flower by flower, just so the beekeeper doesn't have to mess with the bees? Ya can't dry out a whole clover plant and hope to be able to extract just the clover honey. Artificial honey is everywhere; it's basically fructose made from corn ("corn sweetener"), and it can be produced easily and quickly in big, even-tempered vats. It's safe to say that virtually no product on a supermarket shelf that has "honey" in its name contains any more than a glob of real honey in a carload, unless it says so on the label. It's even added to jars of bee honey as an extender. There's much less pure bee honey in the world than you would guess from looking at advertising.

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