We have all seen honeybees on flowers and know they are getting that sweet nectar they love to eat and utilize. They will also get pollen on their bodies which will fertilize other flowers when it brushes off. However, not everyone knows the exact process that happens from the flower to the honeycomb, which leads to the creation of honey. What happens to the nectar that creates that delicious, golden substance? Read about the honeybees’ honey-making process to begin understanding how bees make honey.
Extracting Nectar from Flowers
Nectar is the sweet substance in flowers and plants that attracts pollinators like honeybees. Worker bees called foragers collect the nectar. They suck droplets of nectar with their straw-like tongue called a proboscis and store excess nectar in their stomach.
A Bee’s “Honey Stomach”
The “honey stomach” is a special organ in the forager’s body where they store nectar while it flies back to the hive. It has a spherical shape and is located in the abdomen. It is also the initial site for a bee’s food digestion. The enzymes in the sac break down the sugars so that the bee can eat the fructose and glucose.
How the Hive Is Made
The hive is made by worker bees that create it to store honey during the winter. They construct hives by chewing wax until it becomes soft. They bond the soft wax into the cells of a honeycomb. They make tubes hexagonal because it requires less wax yet holds more honey.
Inside the Hive
Nectar to honey conversion begins in the hive, so it’s an important part of understanding how bees make honey. Inside the hive, the forager bee passes its nectar to a processor bee who regurgitates it and passes it to the next processor bee. As the process continues from bee to bee, an enzyme called invertase is added to the nectar.
Nectar becomes honey from the invertase enzyme and also from reducing its moisture. When the nectar goes from each processor bee to the next, it significantly reduces the moisture content. Even once the honey is in the cell, bees ripen it by drying it out further. They use their fan wings to create a wind that reduces moisture.
Storing Honey in the Hive
Just like the cap of a honey jar, bees place a seal of wax over the cell of the honeycomb once it’s filled with honey. That keeps it clean and fresh through the winter.
Along with honey, raw honeycomb is a natural product from the honeybee. If you are looking for the best in unfiltered raw honey and honeycomb honey, visit Crystal’s Honey. Here, you’ll find comb honey that is as close to how the bees make it as you can get.