How Bees Make Honey


Honeybees use nectar to make honey. Nectar is almost 80% water with some complex sugars. In fact, if you have ever pulled a honeysuckle blossom out of its stem, nectar is the clear liquid that drops from the end of the blossom. In North America, bees get nectar from flowers like clovers, dandelions, berry bushes and fruit tree blossoms. They use their long, tubelike tongues like straws to suck the nectar out of the flowers and they store it in their “honey stomachs”. Bees actually have two stomachs, their honey stomach which they use like a nectar backpack and their regular stomach. The honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar and when full, it weighs almost as much as the bee does. Honeybees must visit between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to fill their honey stomachs.

The honeybees return to the hive and pass the nectar onto other worker bees. These bees suck the nectar from the honeybee’s stomach through their mouths. These “house bees” “chew” the nectar for about half an hour. During this time, enzymes are breaking the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars so that it is both more digestible for the bees and less likely to be attacked by bacteria while it is stored within the hive. The bees then spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water evaporates from it, making it a thicker syrup. The bees make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax. The honey is stored until it is eaten. In one year, a colony of bees eats between 120 and 200 pounds of honey.

Bee facts

*Bees from the same hive visit about 225,000 flowers per day. One single bee usually visits between 50-1000 flowers a day, but can visit up to several thousand.

*Queens will lay almost 2000 eggs a day at a rate of 5 or 6 a minute. Between 175,000-200,000 eggs are laid per year.

*The average hive temperature is 93.5 degrees.

*Beeswax production in most hives is about 1 1/2% to 2% of the total honey yield.

*About 8 pounds of honey is eaten by bees to produce 1 pound of beeswax.

*Honeybees are the only insects that produce food for humans.

*Just a single hive contains approximately 40-45,000 bees!

*During honey production periods, a bee’s life span is about 6 weeks.

*Honeybees visit about 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey.

*A bee travels an average of 1600 round trips in order to produce one ounce of honey; up to 6 miles per trip. To produce 2 pounds of honey, bees travel a distance equal to 4 times around the earth.

*Bees fly an average of 13-15 mph.

Source : http://www.indianchild.com/bees.htm

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