Honey begins its life in much the same way as maple syrup, as slightly sweet vegetable sap. But unlike maple syrup, whose sap is collected from trees, the sap of honey—called nectar—is collected from flowers. As the bee carries nectar from flowers to the hive, its body breaks down the nectar’s complex sugars into simpler parts. At the hive, the nectar is stored in a very thin layer on the honeycomb to speed up evaporation of water, concentrating, or “ripening,” the honey. By the time beekeepers remove the comb from the hive, honey can be over 80% sugar.