Why and How Do Honey Bees Make Honey?

by Gloria Philips Expert Blogger
A honey bee colony's key objective is to make as much honey as possible to survive through winter into spring. Unlike nearly all bees, including bumble bees, it's not merely the queen bee who over-winters, but also some of those female employees.

How honey is made.

Worker bees (always females) live on average in spring/summer for 6 months and spend those last 3 months of their lives foraging for nectar and pollen. A honey bee goes from flower to flower, often around 1500 in 1 trip and flying around 3 kilometers from her hive to collect nectar, to make honey.

Bring a blossom blossom from its stem and the clear liquid that falls from the end of it's nectar. In the UK and North America bees get nectar from flowers such as clovers, heathers and fruit and berry tree blossoms.

With their long, tube such as tongues as straws they draw the nectar from the flowers and then keep it in their'honey '. Honey bees have two stomachs; their honey stomach that they use to take nectar and their routine stomach. The honey stomach is totally different from the digestive gut although there's a valve connecting the two that can be opened whenever they have to top up their energy levels.

The honey stomach holds nearly 2.5 oz's of nectar and when complete, it weighs almost as much as the bee herself. After her honey stomach is complete she returns to the hive and moves the nectar onto another worker bee or'house bee'. These bees collect the nectar from the forager honeybee's stomach through their mouths. The forager worker bee then flies off again, weather and time of day allowing, to accumulate more.

The house bees'chew' the nectar for about 30 minutes during which time enzymes break the complex sugars (sucrose) in the nectar into simple sugars (fructose and glucose), which makes it both more digestible for the bees and less likely to be attacked by germs while it's stored inside the hive. The bees then disperse the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water evaporates from it, turning it into thicker syrup. The bees hasten the drying process by fanning the nectar with their wings. When the nectar is gooey enough, the moisture level was reduced to between 14 and 18%, to prevent fermentation, it's now honey and the bees seal off (cap) the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax. The honey is stored until it's required. In 1 year, a colony of bees can eat between 120 and 200 lbs of honey. On average a solid colony will need 35-40lbs of honey to see them through winter, so greedy beekeepers will need to make sure that they leave them enough.

Provided that the moisture content remains under 18%, virtually no organism can successfully multiply to significant levels in honey because the high sugar content will kill them. This is the reason why honey found in archaeological digs from thousands of years back remains theoretically fit to eat.

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About Gloria Philips Senior   Expert Blogger

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Joined APSense since, October 12th, 2013, From Newry, United Kingdom.

Created on Oct 22nd 2020 02:17. Viewed 211 times.


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