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How do Bees Make Honey?

How do Bees Make HoneyHave you ever thought about how do bees make honey? It’s a fascinating process! Bees will fly from flower to flower, collecting nectar from the blossoms. The nectar is then stored in the bee’s “honey stomach.” After the bee has collected enough nectar to make it worthwhile, it returns to its hive where it regurgitates the nectar into a cell made of beeswax. Then, enzymes are added that break down the complex sugars found in the nectar. When water is added to this mixture, it creates honey! Once purged of impurities, it is transferred to a different part of the hive for storage.

Bees make honey all the time, but humans only get to harvest it during a small window of the year. It’s a shame, because it’s delicious. Bees make honey for themselves as an energy source over the winter, but we harvest it for our own purposes.

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HOW HONEY IS MADE – National Honey board

Video – How Do Bees Make Honey?

If you saw my last beekeeping article, then you know how beekeepers take honey from a hive, but a big question is how do bees make honey? Now, by the end of this article, i’m going to tell you, but i’m warning you it’s a little bit gross and you might never think of honey the same way ever again, not all bees make honey, but these are honeybees and they make honey because it’s their Main source of energy, it’s their food and as beekeepers, we encourage the bees to make a little bit more honey than they actually need.

So we can take the extra stuff and enjoy it for ourselves whilst giving them a safe place to live, but to make the honey the bees need one main ingredient and that’s something called nectar which you can find in flowers. When you see a busy bee out and about flying from flower to flower, they are very likely collecting, nectar and nectar. Is a sugary water, that’s produced by the flowers to help them attract pollinators, but that’s another article, and these bees are the worker bees, the female bees who do all of the hard work to get to the nectar.

A worker bee will slurp it out of a flower using its really long tongue, and then it will store it in its second stomach, called a crop or a honey stomach. Yes, that’s right. Bees have two stomachs and what’s amazing, is that to fill that honey stomach? One bee might have to visit up to a thousand flowers feeling pretty heavy. The bee makes its way back to the high, but they’ve already started work.

Turning the nectar into honey inside that honey stomach is a special mixture called digestive enzymes, and these help to break down the nectar to make it thicker into what we know as honey. But one bee can’t do this all by themselves. They need a bit of help. Okay, guys we’ve reached the really gross bit when that bee full of nectar returns to the hive. It’s going to vomit up the content of its honey stomach into the mouth of another bee and then that bee will vomit the contents of its honey stomach into the mouth of another bee and so on and so on and so on.

So honey is basically be sick, be vomit, be bath, be throw up whatever it is. You want to call it. This vomit chain might sound kind of icky, but actually it’s really clever, because every time the nectar goes into the honey stomach of another bee. It mixes with those digestive enzymes which help to break down the nectar, get rid of some of the water and thicken it up. So it becomes honey. The last bee in the chain chucks up.

What’s now a sticky sweet liquid into one of these little holes. This is a frame and inside you have wax honeycomb and that’s made up of lots and lots of cells. But when you look closely, you can see that each cell is a hexagon shape, but you can think of these as storage cupboards for bees, because this is where they keep their honey, but the honey isn’t quite ready. Yet it’s still pretty watery at this stage.

So when it’s inside one of these cells, a couple of bees will stand over it and they found their wings really hard to create a draft and that extra little bit of air that wind helps to dry out. What’s left of the water, leaving only the thick sticky, sweet stuff that we know as honey and the very last thing the bees do is just cap off the cell. They use a little bit more wax to create a lid which keeps the honey safe inside until they’re ready to use it.

So there you go. That is how bees make honey.

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