Gathering Nectar

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The bee gathers nectar from a flower by inserting its long proboscis down into the nectary. In the process, its hairy body picks up pollen from the flower’s anthers. The nectar passes through the bee’s esophagus into the honey sac, a storage tank that holds the nectar until the bee returns to the hive. Certain glands secrete enzymes into the sac, and these work to break down starch into smaller chains of sugars and sucrose into its constituent glucose and fructose molecules.