Honey is a sweet, amber colored liquid produced by honey bees. It is one of the most common sweeteners used by humans and has been used for many centuries. Honey has also used for medicinal purposes due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It has long been used as an energy food especially for wilderness survival. Bees make honey to feed the hive and the bee larva during the winter months when food is scarce. The following article will outline how bees make honey.
The honey making process
The field bee leaves the hive and locates flowers nearby that will provide them with nectar. Nectar is a liquid found in a flower that is made up of complex sugars, called sucrose, and about 80% of water. Nectar is made by the plant to make it more attractive to pollinating insects so that it ensures that it is pollinated. This happens when the visiting bee collects some of the pollen grains, which are then transferred to the next flower whilst collecting nectar.
Once a flower is located the bee lands on the flower and inserts a long flexible tube called a proboscis into the center of the flower. The bee uses the proboscis to suck up the nectar into a special stomach (the honey stomach) that is used to store the nectar. The bees honey stomach contains special enzymes that break down the nectar into fructose and glucose.
The bee returns to the hive and makes contact with a worker bee which sucks the nectar from the field bees honey stomach. The nectar is worked in the bee’s mouth to combine it with special enzymes to turn it into raw honey. This is then regurgitated into a cell in the honeycomb. The honeycomb is a wax storage wall constructed by the bees to store food for the winter months. Each cell is hexagonal in shape. The bees continue to fill the cell in the same way until it is full.
The next step in honey production is ripening. When the honey is first placed in the cell it has a high water content. The bees work to evaporate the water out of the honey which makes it last longer. Ripened honey is also more nutritious for bees, which means that less is needed to sustain them. The bees leave the cells open and fan the full cells with their wings creating a draft through the hive that causes evaporation. This, along with the heat in the hive, evaporates the excess water out of the honey.
Once the honey is ripened and the water evaporated the cell is capped with a wax covering and the process is started over again with the next cell.
The following video simply explains the process of making honey: