Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
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Fermentation of Honey
9 - 12
This lesson explains the processes of cellular respiration and fermentation and how it applies to the production and processing of honey.
- Fermentation of Honey student handout, 1 per student
- Fermentation of Honey Teacher KEY
- Teacher Lab Supplies:
- Warm water
- Four 100 ml beakers labeled 1%, 5%, 30%, and 50% sugar solution
- ‘Rapid rise’ activated dry yeast
- Bowl and spoon to prepare yeast mixture
- Weighing scale and weighing boats or portion cups
- Materials to make 4 respirometers per group
- 5cc syringes (non-luerlock)
- 1mL pipets (glass disposable with 0.01 gradations)
- Plastic tubing (I.D. = 1/8”; O.D. =1/4”; wall = 1/16”) cut into 1 inch sections
- Student Lab Supplies, per group:
- Access to 10mL of each sugar solution (1, 5, 30, and 50% sugar. Prepare ahead of time following instructions in Teacher Key)
- Access to 40 mL of yeast suspension (Prepare ahead of time following instructions in Teacher Key)
- Four 100mL beakers
- Four 50 mL beakers
- Timer or clock
- Respirometers, 4 per group (Prepare ahead of time following instructions in Teacher Key)
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
cellular respiration (aerobic respiration): process that releases energy from food in the presence of oxygen
fermentation (anaerobic respiration): process that releases energy from food in the absence of oxygen
carbohydrate: compound made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms; type of nutrient that is the major source of energy for the body
adenosine triphosphate (ATP): compound used by cells to store and release energy
invertase: an enzyme produced by yeast that catalyzes the hydrolysis of sucrose, forming invert sugar
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- A bee flies to thousands of flowers just to make a spoonful of honey.1
- While transforming nectar into honey, bees flap their wings so hard that they draw excess moisture out of the initially water-filled substance.2
- Honey is one of the few foods known to have an eternal shelf life. This longevity can be explained by honey's chemical makeup which is naturally acidic and low in moisture.3
- The term honeymoon originated from an old French practice of drinking a honey beverage for 30 days after the wedding. This period was referred to as the "honeymonth," which later evolved to honeymoon.4
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Display the following pictures for your students to see. Instruct students to compare the pictures and ask the following questions:
- What are these? (honeycomb from a beehive)
- What do you notice that is different in these two pictures? (The picture on the right has bubbles in it)
- What are some reasons that could cause the honey in this comb to bubble? (allow students to offer ideas)
- Think about the scientific processes you are aware of. What creates bubbles? (fermentation)
- What do you think could cause this honey to ferment?
- Left: Honey in Comb. Source: National Agriculture in the Classroom
- Right: Fermented Honey in Comb: Randy Burlew: http://honeybeesuite.com
Activity 1: How does the concentration of sugar affect yeast's ability to consume sugar and produce CO2 as a waste product?
Preparation: Depending on time availability, you may want to have sugar solutions and yeast suspension ready prior to the lab. Mixing instructions are included on page 3 of the attached Teacher KEY. Prepare respirometers ahead of time, or show students how to assemble their own respirometers. Designate where used sugar and yeast solutions are to be disposed in your classroom.
- Give each student 1 copy of the Fermentation of Honey student handout. and review the processes of cellular respiration and fermentation with students from pages 1-2.
- Divide students up into groups of 3-4. Give each student 1 copy of the Fermentation of Honey student handout.
- Go through the lab activity procedures found below as well as on their Fermentation of Honey student worksheet (page 3):
- Gather the materials needed for this lab.
- Measure out 10 ml of the 1% sugar solution and place the solution into a 50 ml beaker.
- Measure out 10 ml of the yeast solution and add it to the 50 ml beaker with the sugar solution.
- Allow the yeast and sugar mixture to incubate for 5 minutes occasionally swirling the beaker.
- Repeat the procedure with the other concentrations of sugar.
- Draw 3 ml of the yeast and sugar mixture into the syringe.
- Continue drawing the syringe until it has 1 ml of air on top of the sugar-yeast mixture.
- Add a drop of water into the bottom of the pipette and attach the pipette to the top of the syringe with plastic tubing. Stand the respirometer upright.
- Begin timing when the drop of water reaches 0 on the graduated pipette.
- Record the amount of CO2 produced every 2 minutes in the data table.
- Repeat with the other concentrations of sugar.
- After students record their observations on the data collection table on page 3 of the handout, take some time to share results and discuss any differences in results between lab groups.
- Allow time for students to answer the three questions in "Part 1" of their handout.
- Facilitate discussion of answers to the "Part 1" questions and what students observed during the lab activity. Possible questions include:
- What made the water droplet move up the pipet? (Creation of C02 was created as a byproduct of fermentation of glucose by the yeast. This increased the pressure in the pipette and pushed the water up.)
- What gas was formed during fermentation? (Carbon dioxide)
- Does a higher sugar concentration necessarily mean more energy can be produced by yeast? (Student answers may vary, but their data should indicate that more sugar isn’t necessarily better for fermentation.)
- How is measuring the production of CO2 a measure of fermentation and glucose metabolism? (We know this is a byproduct of respiration and should be observable by the presence of bubbles or moving the water droplet up the pipette.)
Activity 2: Predicting Fermentation in Honey
- Discuss as a class the process bees go through to ripen nectar into honey using the diagram provided in the Fermentation of Honey student handout.
- Divide students into their lab groups once again. Using their data from "Part 1," have them graph their data and answer the three questions in "Part 2" where they will predict if fermentation will occur in fully ripened honey.
- Bring class back together to discuss the answers to "Part 2" of the handout. Share the graphed data as a class and have a discussion about replication.
- Did all groups collect and record similar data?
- What are some potential sources of variation or error?
- For "Part 3" of the handout, have students work on their own to problem-solve the four questions on the worksheet about a beekeeper protecting honey from unwanted fermentation. This section can be used as an assessment of individual understanding or simply by conducting a class discussion of answers to "Part 3."
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Uncontrolled fermentation in honey by wild yeast can result in an unpalatable food product for people, loss of market value for the beekeeper, and an unusable food source for bees.
- If bees eat too much fermented honey the alcohol can be poisonous to them resulting in bee loss and as well as their pollination abilities for our food crops.
- Beekeepers can prevent fermentation from occurring by lowering the water content to below 18.6% with a dehydrator or storing honey in a heated room to promote evaporation of excess moisture.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Show your students the video clip How It's Made: Honey. This video clip outlines honey making beginning with the bees and ending with honey processing.
Students may benefit from graphing CO2 production across time for each sugar concentration in Part 1. Have lab groups share their graphs with each other and discuss similarities and differences. Did everyone have similar results? Why or why not?
Suggested Companion Resources
- Anatomy of a Worker Bee (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Honey Bee Study Prints (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- How It's Made: Honey (Multimedia)
- TedTalk- The First 21 Days of a Bees Life (Multimedia)
- Wings of Life (Multimedia)
- Pollen Gallery (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Provide examples of foodborne contaminants, points of contamination, and the policies/agencies responsible for protecting the consumer (T3.9-12.h)
Education Content Standards
Food Products and Processing Systems Career Pathway
FPP.02.02Apply principles of microbiology and chemistry to develop food products to provide a safe, wholesome and nutritious food supply for local and global food systems.
FPP.03.01Implement selection, evaluation and inspection techniques to ensure safe and quality food products.
HS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
HS-LS1-7Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed, resulting in a net transfer of energy.
Common Core Connections
Mathematics: Practice Standards
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4Model with mathematics. Students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. Students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.