Japan is a nation of unabashed foodies, and so when Japanese Twitter user @yusai00 came across some locally made honey from a small batch producer in Oita Prefecture, he decided to buy some to take home. However, it wasn’t just the rich golden color that caught his attention, but the fact that each and every bottle contained a giant bug in it.
When you think of honey and insects, your mind mike instantly jumps to bees, but the special ingredient is a different species altogether. Those are actually hornets suspended in the sweet, syrupy liquid.
“What?!? Why?!?!? How?!?!?!?” you might be screaming, and so we’ll answer those in turn. Starting with “What?”, again, these are bottles of honey with hornets in them. As for “Why?” that answer has two parts.
Hornets and bees are natural enemies, and just a few hornets are capable of ruining a hive that houses thousands of times as many bees. As such, beekeepers see hornets as a scourge, and disposing of them is something they have to do while producing honey. Secondly, the makers claim that by placing the hornets in the jars, the insect’s essences and extracts soak into the honey, making it healthier and more delicious.
▼ The jars ship in opaque containers, which deliverymen no doubt appreciate.
And finally, for the most disturbing part of the story, let’s get to “How?” While the complete details aren’t provided, the manufacturers do say that the hornets used for the special honey are captured, “at the risk of our beekeepers’ lives,” while trying to encroach on the bees’ territory. They’re then placed, while still alive, into the jars, which are then closed up, and spend the last moments of their lives essentially suffocating/drowning in honey.
If there’s a bronze lining to all this, it’s that you’re not actually supposed to eat the hornet. Instead, you’re supposed to use just the honey, leaving the hornet as “a decoration,” according to the manufacturers. They even recommend pouring in some sort of alcohol to preserve the creature once you’ve consumed all the honey (although if you just polished off a whole jar of hornet honey, you might need to drink that liquor itself to ease your psychological anguish).
Honey with Hornets, as the product is fittingly called, can be ordered online here through Rakuten at a price of 1,260 yen for a 150-gram jar. That’s not exactly cheap, but we imagine the demand for bug-enhanced sweeteners isn’t particularly price elastic. The product is also not recommended for children under 1, though it’s not specified if that guideline is based on nutritional/digestive concerns or the simple human decency of sparing babies from emotional trauma.
Source: Twitter/@yusai00 via Jin, Rakuten/Whole Square Sweet Kitchen
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