How do bees make honey? Bees collect nectar from flowers, store it in their honey stomach and pass it to other bees. Then it is stored in a honeycomb where it gets dehydrated and gets ripened and finally comes out as honey.
Let’s see this process in more detail. Here is a step by step explanation for the process of honey making. Also, there are some interesting facts about bees and honey. So let’s dive into it.
The first step of making honey is collecting the raw material, which is nectar. The worker honey bees fly to different flowers and collect nectar. They have special tongues for that called proboscis. This nectar is then stored in one of their two stomachs called honey stomach.
On the way back to the hive, digestive enzymes start to breakdown the complex polysaccharide (large molecules of carbohydrate) called sucrose into simple sugars called glucose and fructose. This enzyme is named as invertase.
But 1 bee isn’t enough for this conversion so they start a chain of process. The worker bee transfers the nectar through its mouth into a house bee’s mouth. And that house bee passes it to another bee and chain goes on. Each bee plays a role in converting nectar into honey.
So in short bees regurgitate or vomit the nectar into another bees’ mouth. This completely converts sucrose present in nectar into glucose and fructose.
After this, the processed nectar is transferred into honeycomb. At this moment it contains a lot of water so to remove that bees perform the next step.
Honey contains less than 18.6% of water, on the other side nectar consist of 70% of water. So something should be done to remove this water.
Bees know what they have to do. They start flapping their wings continuously over the honeycomb. This increases the wind flow and helps in evaporation of water.
Bees now cover the honeycomb with a fresh piece of wax. Honey gets ripened there and comes out ready to be eaten.
How do bees make honey video:
For understanding the process better, here is a video on how do bees make honey.
Here is an animated video on how do bees make honey for kids.
Now you know how do bees make honey, but why do bees make honey? Bees don’t work so hard just for us. Honey is actually their food. They spend the whole summer and spring in storing and making honey. They eat it in winters when there are not many flowers to collect nectar from.
Let’s see some interesting facts about these little creatures.
1 lb (pound) of honey requires 10,000 plus bees to travel almost 75,000 miles and suck from approximately 8,000,000 flowers.
1 honey bee has to suck nectar from more than thousands of flowers to fill its honey stomach.
The yellow honey bee is just one of many species of bees which can make honey.
Only the queen bee is fertile. All the other female bees are sterile.
If the egg of the queen bee is fertilized the new bee will be female. However, if the egg doesn’t get fertilized it give rise to a male bee.
Diet determines which bee will be the queen. Initially all the larvae are fed upon royal jelly. Later only one gets royal jelly while others get bee bread. A compound in bee bread keeps bees sterile.
A worker/forager bee visits almost 100 flowers in 1 trip.
Why do bees make honey in hexagonal cells? Well they require 8 oz of honey to make 1 oz of wax and they make small wax jars to store honey. They can’t waste it. So, they need a shape that provides large area to store honey without any wastage of wax and that shape is hexagon.
Bees communicate through their body language and through some special moves.
Yes, Honey can be of different taste, color and smell. It’s because bees collect nectar from many different types of flowers. Different flowers have slight differences in their nectar.
No, beekeepers left some honey for bees as well. They don’t take all of it. Moreover, there is a proper method for taking honey from hives.
No, bees will never sting any creature without any reason. They only sting when they feel danger from someone.
Bees can recognize features and faces. So they trust their caretakers and they don’t harm them. Interesting, right?
Bees use honey in winters. The whole colony feed upon it in cold season. The left over honey remains in the honeycomb and bees start to collect more in spring.
Other insects and animals also eat honey so they steal some as well.
Vegans avoid any food that harms or exploits animals. Many vegans don’t eat honey as it is made by bees. They also do this to stand against beekeeping as many beekeepers don’t take good care of bees.
Almost 2 to 3 times in a year. It depends a lot on climate and local environment. Diseases, less plants or poor weather can affect harvesting time.
Honey that you get from the market is not raw. Raw honey contains many impurities like wax, pollen grains and some parts of dead bees as well that can cause damage to your body. Manufacturers remove as many impurities as they can then pack it for you.
Turkey is known to be the best honey producing country in the world.
You would now agree that bees are interesting, smart and hardworking creatures. They are not called busy bees for no reason. You have seen step by step explanation on how do bees make honey.
It takes time and effort. Bees have to travel a lot to collect nectar. So next time when you eat honey, remember these little creatures who work so hard to give you delicious honey.