Most of the time, sweet things are not considered healthy, but honey is an exception. This is because it occurs naturally and it has numerous health benefits. Better yet, the process through which honey is made makes it intriguing and unique.
Normally, every bee has a duty to fulfil for the colony to grow. Some bees play the role of making and storing honey which serves as their food during cold seasons. Worker bees and house bees are the 2 main categories of honey bees and they devote their lives to sustaining a colony.
Before we get into the fascinating process of making honey, here are 4 interesting facts about bees:
1. Not Every Bee can Produce Honey
Approximately honey bees are only found in seven different species. These bees collect nectar and pollen in order to manufacture honey to preserve for the chilly wintertime.
2. Honey Bees have Very Short Lives
Most bees live for around six weeks on average. In their short lives, worker bees produce just about a quarter of a teaspoon of honey.
3. Bees are Surprisingly Fast
During one forage excursion, a honey bee will visit 100 flowers on average. In addition, they forage for nectar and pollen throughout a 4- to 5-mile radius. Therefore, honey bees must fly nearly 55,000 kilometres to produce just a single pound of Honey!
4. Bees Consume A lot of Honey
A large colony of honey bees can consume from 100 to 200 pounds of honey in a year!
Why Do Bees Make Honey?
During the chilly winter months, food sources for bees diminish. Besides this, they wouldn’t survive the cold if they left their hives. However, bees are surprisingly intelligent and creative. This is because they take advantage of the summer months to find pollen and nectar to make honey. That way, they can survive by eating it until the winter season is over.
Normally, honey is used to feed the young bees. On the other hand, worker bees feed on nectar and pollen instead of honey. That way, they will be strong enough to make honey in spring. Just as a side point it may interest you to see air operated double diaphragm pumps.
The Honey Making Process
Honey is made through a multi-step process, as you might expect. Here are the steps followed by a honey bee to make honey:
Step 1: Collection of Nectar and Pollen By Worker Bees
When a worker bee discovers a nice source of nectar, she goes to work. Normally, she takes nectar from the insides of flowers with her proboscis. Remember, on a single foraging expedition, a worker bee visits more than 100 flowers.
The nectar is kept in a special sac called a honey stomach, along with a small number of honey bee secretions. The worker bee will go back to the hive after the honey stomach is full of dropping off the cargo.
Step 2: House Bees Receive The Nectar From Worker Bees.
Usually, house bees spend their time in the hive waiting for worker bees to return. The nectar is passed from the worker bees to the waiting bees, who then begin the honey-making process. As the bees chew the nectar, its chemical properties change until it becomes Honey. However, the honey has too much water and needs dehydration for it to be stored.
Step 3: Dehydration of the Honey
Excess water from the honey is lost as it is moved from bee to bee. In addition, the bees spread the honey over a honeycomb. This is meant to increase the surface area it occupies to encourage evaporation of the excess water. As a result, dry and delicious honey is made, ready for storage.
As we have seen, bees make honey as a food security strategy. It is quite interesting that such small insects can be so creative and hardworking!