How Do Bees Make Honey?

How Do Bees Make Honey? Honey bees are among nature’s most outstanding creatures. These social insects live in bee colonies numbering forty to seventy thousand bees; the social structure of a bee colony is precisely outlined, with each bee acting completely in the interest of the colony. Bees are vital in the pollination of plants; because they pollinate food crops, bees are instrumental in the production of as much as 30 p.c of the food supply within the United States. And bees turn out honey, that is consumed by humans and other animals around the world. Bees are raised commercially for various reasons, however primarily for the honey that they produce. Honey is not an essential food for humans, however as a sweetener it’s healthier than sugar, and as a food additive it adds flavor to everything from pumpkin soup to barbecue sauce. We tend to even use honey for medicinal purposes.

How do Bees Make Honey?

How Do Bees Make HoneyBees themselves eat honey, thus they have to have a constant supply stored away, especially in winter when plants are dormant. Bees make honey from the nectar that worker bees collect from various plants as they do their daily rounds. Usually, it is the older worker bees that do the foraging; they can fly from flower to flower, using their proboscis as a sort of straw to suck up the liquid nectar and store it in a sac in their bodies, the “honey stomach.”

Nectar is about 80% water, with most of the rest sucrose (a disaccharide, or complex sugar). In a process known as inversion, the worker bees break down these complex sugars into glucose and fructose — monosaccharides, or plain sugars. This occurs while the nectar remains in the honey stomach, and while the bee is flying from flower to flower, sucking up more nectar. The process is in done by an enzyme, invertase, which converts most of the sucrose into glucose and fructose. A second enzyme, glucose oxidase, breaks the glucose further down into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Gluconic acid ensures a low pH, rendering honey an inhospitable atmosphere for bacteria, mold, and fungi; the hydrogen peroxide provides short-term protection against microbes. These properties create the converted nectar — and therefore the eventual honey — a safe food for bee larvae, and also enhance honey’s medicinal uses for humans.

Once the honey stomach is full, the worker bee returns to the hive and regurgitates the nectar, already converted by enzymes. However, the substance continues to be about 80 % water, most of which must be evaporated. The nectar is injected into honeycomb cells, and worker bees who stay in the hive beat their wings furiously to evaporate the water content. The nectar gradually thickens into honey, that is solely 14-18 % water. Once the thickening is complete, the honeycomb cells are capped with beeswax, to be eaten later by bees or fed to bee larvae, or to be harvested by a beekeeper.

Individual bees are only able to produce tiny amounts of honey during their lifetime — a fraction of a teaspoon. But, a hive with fifty thousand bees can produce as much as two hundred pounds of honey in a very year.

As a result of bees themselves using honey as a primary source of food for themselves and their young, aren’t beekeepers then “stealing” food from bees when they harvest this product? Essentially, bees are capable of making much more honey than they need. If a honeycomb that’s overflowing with honey is removed and emptied by a beekeeper and then replaced within the hive, the bees can see that it is empty, and can immediately venture out, collect a lot of nectar, and make more honey. Beekeepers typically install prefabricated wax honeycombs, sparing the bees the trouble to create their own honeycombs. The bees then have that rather more time to form honey. Beekeepers do want to make sure to not overharvest, and to make sure that their bees have enough honey to urge through the winter months, when nectar collecting isn’t possible. But, if the hive is correctly managed, a bee colony can provide enough honey for its own functions along with for a beekeeper’s profit.

Even within the wild, bees tend to overproduce honey; this is what they’re programmed to do. Such chronic overproduction may appear somehow inefficient or wasteful, contrary to the otherwise strictly economical laws of nature. However, joined former UK beekeeper points out in a blog, it may be just as pertinent to raise why some humans whose bank accounts are already full to bursting continue to figure long hours at their jobs, creating a lot of and additional cash that they’re going to never be ready to spend. The question may be worth some reflection.
About the Author

Robert Mccormack has been writing articles online for nearly 2 years now. Not only does this author specialize in Bee-Pollen-Health and How Bees Make Honey, you can also check out his latest website about: Bee-Pollen-Health or How to Collect Bee Pollen


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