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Landon Diaz
Landon Diaz

Bees Make Honey

How do bees make honey? Unlike many other bees, honeybee species don't hibernate in winter. Instead, they stay active in their hives. During the coldest months, honeybees cluster together to keep warm and survive on the sweet substance that they have been hoarding for weeks in advance. That substance is honey.

Bees Make Honey

All of the bees in a hive benefit from the honey haul, but the job of honey production lies with the female worker bees, according to biologists at Arizona State University (opens in new tab). These forager bees fill their stomachs with nectar from flowers before returning to the hive to convert it into honey. Male honeybees, which make up about ten per cent of the hive population, spend their lives eating this honey, before leaving the hive to mate.

There are many factors that determine how much honey a single bee colony will need to produce for a winter period. It depends on the climate where the bees live, how much ventilation the hive has, the number and kind of bees in the hive, according to the Italian Journal of Animal Science (opens in new tab). Honeybees will continue to make honey until every cell in their hive is full.

When the nectar's moisture content is reduced from 70 percent to about 20 percent, it becomes honey, according to the Journal of Global Biosciences (opens in new tab). The honey is stored in cells within the hive until it is needed.

To produce the honey found in supermarkets, beekeepers harvest the honey made from bees in artificial hives. This process is a widely debated topic. How does keeping bees impact honey production, the environment and the bees themselves?

Bees can produce more honey than they need to sustain their colony over the winter period, according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Information (opens in new tab). So, many beekeepers believe that using the excess for human benefit causes little harm to the bees' welfare. Others claim that the bees are overworked as they have to make up extra volumes of honey to replace what's taken, according to the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation (opens in new tab). In addition, when bees' honey is taken and replaced with a sugar alternative, bees aren't getting the same nutrition as wild honeybees.

As bees search for nectar, hairs on their bodies brush flowers and pick up pollen. When flying between plants, the bees transfer the pollen and help flower species to reproduce. This is why it is beneficial to protect bee populations.

You can read more about the different roles of honeybees and the history of honeybee production at the University of Arkansas System (Division of Agriculture) website (opens in new tab). Additionally, for nutritional values of honey, go to the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) website (opens in new tab).

Although there are about 20,000 different species of bees in the world, only the honeybee makes the kind of honey we are used to eating. These bees produce honey to feed themselves, which makes them different from creatures that eat things like fruits, nuts and other insects. Honeybees make honey as a way of storing and saving food for colder months when they are not able to leave their hive as often and there are not as many flowers to gather food from.

You might be wondering, if honeybees make honey to feed themselves, is it ok for humans to take it and eat it, too? The answer is yes, since these bees actually make about two to three times more honey each year than they need to survive the winter.

Honeybees live together in colonies which can consist of around 60,000 bees. In fact, a single honeybee will only create about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey it its entire life! That is not even enough to sweeten a cup of tea!

Honey bees make honey to store up as food to last them through the winter months. During the coldest time of year, there are fewer flowers from which to collect nectar and honey bees are unable to forage. Thanks to their supply of honey, members of these colonies survive through the winter, unlike in most bumblebee colonies where only the queen bee survives by hibernating underground.

Once the worker returns to the hive, forager bees pass the nectar to each other from mouth to mouth. Workers that are younger than the foragers then pack the nectar into hexagon-shaped cells in the honeycomb that are made of beeswax. Next, they fan the nectar with their wings to encourage evaporation.

Pollen is a kind of powder which flowering plants, trees and grasses make (and must spread) to help more of the same plants grow around them. Pollen can spread in ways such as being blown around by the air, or being carried between two of the same plant by an insect.

So by transferring pollen between flowers, bees also help pollinate flowers. These often turn into the seeds of the fruit and nuts we eat. In fact, about one-third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees.

This sugary liquid is produced by flowers to encourage insect pollinators to visit. Nectar is 70-80 per cent water with a mixture of three different sugars: sucrose, glucose and fructose, plus some scent chemicals to help draw bees to the flowers.

Honeybees suck nectar through their hollow proboscis (a straw-like tongue) and store it in the first chamber of their stomach, called the proventriculus. An enzyme called invertase breaks the sucrose down into a simpler glucose and fructose molecules. Other enzymes raise the acidity of the nectar, which helps kill bacteria.

In spring and early summer, the bee colony uses all its honey to feed the larvae, building its workforce to a summer peak of 50,000 bees. These workers then spend two to three weeks madly gathering nectar to last the winter. It takes 12 bees their entire life to make a teaspoon of honey.

Question: Why do bees make honey?The short answer is:Honey bees make honeyas a way of storing food to eat over the cooler winter period, when theyare unable to forage and there are fewer flowers from which to gatherfood.

When you consider that whilstflying, a honey bee's wings beat about 11,400 times per minute, it's clear they need a great deal of energy! However, flying outdoors is not the only time they beat their wings, they also do it toregulate the temperature in the hive. Even when they are not flying out to forage for food, there is tremendous activity in the hive, and all this work requires energy.

It's a good idea to include plants and shrubs in your garden that flower early, so that honey bees will be able to feed in cold, dry weather. Below is a photograph of a honey bee worker foraging on a winter flowering shrub called Daphne 'Jacqueline Postill'. The photograph was taken on a very cold day, and this shrub flowers from the end of January, so there were many hungry honey bees feeding on it.

Assumingthere is plenty of food available for the bees from plant and tree blossoms,and assuming the weather is okay for the honey bees to venture out,then hopefully there is plenty of honey so that it's alright for humansto take some of it.

Remember that in the wild, predation is natural. Mammals (such as the honey badger), other insects (such as wasps, hornets, and even other bees), and sometimes birds (often with the help of anotherpredator) will steal some of the honey from honey bee nests!

There's more to honey than meets theeye! Honey is a sugary substance made by bees using the nectar they have collected from flowers. The bees mix this with a special substance called the 'bee enzyme'.A basic scientific formula is as follows:

There are different presentations (set, comb honey and so on - For further information, take a look at my page: Types Of Honey) and there are also subtle differences between honeys from different bee hives, depending on where the bees have been foraging. This enables the production of different honey varieties.

The honey you are familiar with, is made by honey bees. Bumble beesdon't make honey, instead, they have little pots of nectar. You can read more about this 'do bumble bees make honey' here.For bumble bees, it's more a case of storing nectar for a short timeperiod, because bumble bee colonies do not last as long as honey beecolonies do.

However, there is another type of bee, referred to as the Melipona, which is a genus of stingless bees, and which makes a type of honey in small quantities, but this type of honey is not widely available.It's always worth remembering.....Whenever honey bees visit flowers to gather nectar with which to make honey, they pollinate flowers. Read about plant pollination.Did you know?Not all honey is made from nectar gathered from flowers. For example, honeydew honey is sort of made from aphid (and other bug) poop!

Honey bees collect nectar to create honey and store as food because it provides the energy for bees' flight muscles and provides heating for the hive in the winter. Fortunately, honey bees will make more honey than the colony needs, so it is necessary for beekeepers to harvest the excess, which they bottle.

Honey starts as flower nectar collected by bees, which gets broken down into simple sugars stored inside the honeycomb. The design of the honeycomb and constant fanning of the bees' wings causes evaporation, creating sweet liquid honey. Honey's color and flavor vary based on the nectar collected by the bees. For example, honey made from orange blossom nectar might be light in color, whereas honey from avocado or wildflowers might have a dark amber color.

On average, a hive will produce about 55 pounds of surplus honey each year. Beekeepers harvest it by collecting the honeycomb frames and scraping off the wax cap that bees make to seal off honey in each cell. Once the caps are removed, the frames are placed in an extractor, a centrifuge that spins the frames, forcing honey out of the comb.

In addition to these top four common misconceptions about all bees, many bees are actually confused with wasps and hornets. Wasps and hornets are relatives of bees, but are more aggressive and may pose greater threats to humans. 041b061a72


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