How Bees collect nectar to make honey

bee straw

How Bees collect nectar to make honey

Honeybees use nectar to make honey. Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by plants and flowers and is almost 80% water with some complex sugars.Bees use their long, straw like tube tongues called a proboscis so they can suck the nectar out of the flowers and store it in their “honey stomachs”.This is separate from and in front of its digestive stomach and is used only for storing nectar. 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 bees return to the hive and pass the nectar stored in their honey stomachs onto other worker bees. The young worker bee is responsible for receiving the nectar from a foraging bee returning to the hive, and putting it into a cell. She also adds an enzyme to it, which helps ripen the honey. If there are not enough worker bees available to take in the nectar from foraging bees, they will perform a special dance, called the “tremble dance,” to encourage other worker bees to help out with this job. These bees suck the nectar from the honeybee’s stomach through their mouths. These Worker bees or “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 dehumidify or “dry” the nectar even faster by fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is gooey enough and the perfect humidity, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a cap of wax. The honey is stored until it is needed and eaten. In one year, a colony of bees eats between 120 and 200 pounds of honey.

How Amazing!

* It takes approximately 50,000 bee loads of nectar to make one pound of honey.

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