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Why do bees make honey?

Honey is the bees' way of preserving food so they have something to eat when there aren't many flowers. Honey can be stored in the hive and consumed when needed. If bees store nectar without first converting it into honey, it will ferment.

What is honey made of?

Bees eat two types of food, both of which come from flowers. Pollen is their source of protein and nectar is their carbohydrate. Nectar is a sugary liquid produced by plants in which sucrose is the primary sugar. Enzymes in the bee's honey stomach break it down into the simple sugars glucose and fructose. Honey also contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and compounds found in flowers. The unique flavor, aroma, and color of different types of honey depend on the type of plant from which the nectar comes.

how honey is made

When the weather warms and flowers begin to bloom, bees will leave the hive in search of flowers. The actual process of making honey is this:

  1. Once they find a flower, they use their long, straw-like tongues to suck nectar, a sugary sap, from the plant.
  2. Nectar is stored in the second stomach, also called the "honey stomach."
  3. After they have filled their second stomach, the bees will return to the hive and begin passing nectar to other bees through their mouths.
  4. These bees will chew the nectar for about 30 minutes.
  5. They then pass it on to another bee .
  6. When nectar is passed from one bee to another, it becomes honey.
  7. After the nectar turns into honey, the bees store it in the hive, which acts like little jars made of wax.
  8. The bees beat the honey with their wings, making it thicker and more like syrup than sweet juice.
  9. When the honey is ready, the bees seal the hive with a wax cap for later storage.
  10. At this point, a skilled beekeeper can remove some of the finished honey from the hive, taking care not to harm or damage the colony.

Sweet Honey Facts

  • A bee produces approximately one-twelfth of a teaspoon (0.8 grams) of honey during its lifetime.
  • A bee colony requires 2 million visits to flowers to produce 500 grams (1 pound) of honey.
  • Honey is not a uniform substance - its color ranges from almost transparent to very dark.
  • There are as many different flavors of honey as there are flowering plants for bees to feed on.
  • Honey has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and probiotic properties. If stored correctly, honey will never go bad.

What do bees use honey for?

Honey is food for bees - when enough nectar is available, the bee colony will produce enough nectar to store. When there aren't many flowers, or the weather is bad and the bees can't go out and forage, they use up their stored honey. Winter is coming, and bees need to store large amounts of honey to feed and keep them warm through the winter. Bees gorge themselves on honey before swarming. This provides them with the energy they need to build new nests.

So next time you enjoy delicious honey, think about these hard-working insects and the incredible teamwork required to make it.

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