When we talk of “bees,” we usually talk about honey bees, specifically the European honeybee (its scientific designation is the Apis Mellifera). Humans have been admiring honey from it and taking advantage of its pollination capabilities for thousands of years.
How do they create honey, you are asking? The task requires teamwork and organization.
Honey starts as nectar.
The flowers produce the liquid’s sugar content to attract pollinators of insects to come to. Nectar is 70 to 80 percent water that mixes three sugars: sucrose and fructose. It also contains fragrance chemicals that help attract bees to the flowers.
Nectar is stored and consumed.
Honeybees drink nectar into their proboscis (a straw-like mouth), which is stored in the primary part of their stomach, known as the proventriculus. An enzyme called invertase breaks down the sucrose into glucose, a more basic sugar, and fructose molecules. Other enzymes increase the acidity of nectar, which assists in killing bacteria.
Bees buzzing and busy
You’ve probably heard about the most crucial ingredient for making honey flowers.
A bee colony can visit 50 million flowers daily and as many as 60,000 bees within each colony. They’re not called busy bees to be used for nothing!
Honey bees work in a group to decide on the most beautiful flowers. They communicate through noises, bumps, and even dance movements known as the waggle dance.
HOW HONEY IS MADE
Why do bees produce honey?
Honey bees gather nectar to make honey and store it as food as it provides the energy required by the bees’ muscles for flight and helps to heat the hive during the winter. Honey bees can produce more honey than the colony demands, so beekeepers must collect the surplus and bottle it.
Honey: a portion of healthy food for everyone, bees, humans, and bee
Since nectar is derived in the form of flowers, it is possible to find various kinds of honey with different shades, scents, flavors, and colors. Specific jars of honey can be used to treat ailments.
Bees also don’t only collect nectar for honey. When they visit flowers, they also collect pollen, a good protein source that keeps them strong and healthy.
Pollen is a powder that flowering plants, grasses, and trees produce (and need to spread) to let other plants grow around them. Pollen spreads in different ways, like being blown about by air or transported between two of the same plants by insects.
By transferring pollen among flowers, bees can also pollinate flowers. They often transform into seeds of the fruits and nuts that we eat. Bees pollinate about one-third of the food we consume.
There is more information on honeybees’ various roles and the background of honeybee production on the University of Arkansas System (Division of Agriculture) website(opens in a new tab). In addition, to find out the nutritional benefits of honey, visit the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) website(opens in a new tab).
The honeycomb cell is sealed.
After the honey is dried enough to be sealed, bees seal the honeycomb cells with wax, making it airtight, keeping in all the goodness.
The bees utilize the stored honey to nourish themselves in the winter months. They combine it with pollen to create “bee-bread,” that they feed their children.
While honeybees can produce more than they require, beekeepers should be aware not to take too much, or the bees may become starving. It’s always recommended to determine the source of your honey—ethical beekeepers love their honey and adhere to ethical practices.