How Do Bees Make Honey?
If you think you have a lot of mouths to feed at home, try being a honeybee! There are approximately 10,000 to 50,000 bees in one hive, each of them as hungry as the next. An industrious worker bee will collect nectar from over 1,000 plants, traveling sometimes more than 2 miles to feed their hive.
In fact, an entire colony of bees will travel a distance roughly equal to taking 3 trips around the world. It takes thousands of bees working almost endlessly to produce the 50kg of honey that the hive will consume in a year, but how do these little workers transform the nectar from our plants into the delicious golden honey that we all enjoy? Let's take a look at how honey is made.
How is Honey Made?
There are three types of honeybees categorized as queens, drones, and workers. Worker bees are all female and are the only bees that forage for nectar that they store in a separate stomach. This stomach can hold a bee’s body weight in nectar!
After these busy bees fly around to various plants and collect a tummy full of nectar they return to the hive where they begin passing the nectar from stomach to stomach, bee to bee. Yes, you read that correctly. Bees regurgitate the nectar from their special stomachs to other bees, each adding more of their own unique stomach enzymes to the batch and reducing its moisture content.
This happens over and over until the last bee deposits the nectar into a honeycomb cell. The bees will then create an air current within the hive by beating their wings to help with evaporating the nectar. After being thickened enough, the bees will then cap the honeycomb with a layer of beeswax.
The enzymes will continue to break down slowly, transforming the nectar into the honey that people (and bears!) love and enjoy.
Bee Bread For Baby Bees
This newly stored honey will then be combined with pollen and made into what is called “bee bread”. This bread will then become the main source of nourishment for the newest swarm of baby bees, as it is high in the protein that they need to prosper.
Bees Are Essential To Our Ecosystem
The amount of time and energy that worker bees put into making honey is incredible. Without bees to pollenate, the world would look extremely different and our agriculture would be in a lot of trouble. Bees are an essential part of our fragile ecosystem and the impact that they make on this planet is un-bee-lievable.
Because bees are such an important part of our ecosystem, Hiveology strives to be a sustainable Apiculture company. Located in the Okanagan Valley, our beekeepers use organic treatments and practice cruelty-free beekeeping methods.