I’ve been asked many times by young and old, “How do bees make honey?” To sum up the process in a word – incredible.
The first step begins when “field” bees fly from flower to flower collecting the sweet juices or nectar. They use their long tongues like straws to suck the nectar out of the flowers, and they store it in their “stomachs”.
Did you know that honey bees have two stomachs, their regular stomach, and their honey stomach? A bee’s honey stomach can hold so much nectar, that when full, it weighs almost as much as the bee does! Honeybees must visit hundreds of flowers in order to fill their honey stomachs.
The second step in the honey production is for the honey bees to return to the hive and give the nectar to “house” bees. These busy little critters suck the nectar from the honeybee’s stomach through their mouths, and they “chew” the nectar for about 30 minutes, allowing enzymes to break up the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars so that it is more digestible.
The bees then spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water is allowed to evaporate, making it a delicious, thicker syrup. The bees also make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is thick enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax until they decide to eat it. In one year, a colony of bees can devour about 200 pounds of honey.
So, the next time someone asks you, “How do honeybees make honey?”, you’ll give the answer and realize that these busy little buggers put humans to shame. They work tirelessly until the work is accomplished.
They work together perfectly, and they accomplish more in their short lifespans than many of us do. Hummmm…. we can learn a lot, can’t we!
When I first learned about the honey-making process, I began to really appreciate the phrase “busy as a bee”. What do you find amazing about this honey-making process? Leave a comment below.