How BEES MAKE HONEY - Process and curiosities with VIDEO

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

The world of beekeeping is really fascinating; curiosities of bees There are many and each more interesting, although this time we will focus on that sweet and dense food that bees make: honey. Have you ever wondered how bees make honey and what they use it for? Is it true that honey is bee vomit? Does honey expire? What are the different types of honeys?

In Green Ecologist we give you answers to these and other questions with this entertaining article about how bees make honey. We will tell you about the process of the formation of honey from when the bees go to the flowers until the beekeeper extracts it from the combs. Stay to find out!

How Bees Produce Honey

We start counting, step by step, how bees make honey and how they store it in their combs.

  1. The honey formation process It begins the moment the worker bees leave the hive to go in search of flowers with abundant nectar. Here you can see a list of Plants and flowers that attract bees.
  2. The nectar is taken or sipped by the bees with their long tongue. It is important to note here that nectar is a liquid with sugars that plants secrete in order to attract insects such as bees to pollinate them. In this post you will learn about What is pollination and its types.
  3. Once they take the nectar, they temporarily store it in the "honey stomach" or honey crop, which is different from the stomach they use to feed themselves.
  4. With their honey crop full, they return to the hive, where, with a curious dance, they indicate to the rest of the bees where exactly the flowers they have found are so that they can collect as much nectar as possible.
  5. The bees then empty their nectar crops and give it to other bees, which carry out the so-called aeration maneuver. This consists of swallowing and regurgitating the nectar several times for about 20 minutes so that it loses moisture, in addition, some enzymes present in the honey maw are added.
  6. Then, when it has the right consistency, they proceed to store the resulting liquid in the honeycomb, which cannot yet be called honey, as it still needs to lose some more moisture.
  7. To do this, they move their wings over the combs until they see a suitable consistency, which is less than 20% humidity. This will prevent fermentation.
  8. Finally, when they have the honey made, they cover it or seal it with the same wax with which they make the honeycomb in the form of a thin layer called an operculum (this action is called "opercular" in beekeeping jargon) .

What do bees use honey for?

Now that you know how honey is made, you want to know why do bees make honey? Of course, bees don't make honey for humans, although luckily for us, they make more than they need for themselves.

Bees use honey for food, since flowering only occurs mainly during spring. In this way, they make sure they have food reserves throughout the year (similar to what happens to ants, only they gather food during the summer).

In addition, they also use honey to mix it, together with salivary enzymes, with the pollen that they also collect from flowers; mix that they also store in the honeycomb for a while. They do this because pollen is the food of the larvae or baby bees, but it is not digestible for them if it is not provided in the form of the aforementioned mixture.

If you like this type of curiosity, we recommend you read this other post with +20 curiosities of invertebrate animals.

Is honey bee vomit?

We mentioned earlier that bees swallowed and regurgitated nectar for a time to transform it into honey, so we can consider that honey is bee vomit? No, it definitely isn't.

Why honey is not bee vomit? Well, first of all, because the stomach where the nectar is stored is not a stomach as such, but is prepared to make honey and that is why it is called melario crop. Second, the transformation from nectar to honey also consists of other steps external to the animal, such as flapping to remove all possible moisture to avoid fermentation.

Thus, vomiting is not the same as regurgitation, which is what bees do and, furthermore, it does not come from their stomach, but rather from their honey crop.

Do all bees make honey?

Another very curious fact about the world of bees is that there are many species, it is estimated that they 20,000 species of bees. The most curious thing is that, of all of them, they are only 5 species of bees that have the ability to produce honey.

Of those 5, the most abundant is Apis mellifera, which in turn has several subspecies. For example, the honey bee typical of the Iberian Peninsula is Apis mellifera iberica. Apis mellifera It is found almost all over the world, except the poles (since there is no flowering there) and some parts of Asia.

Types of honey

Honey can have a monofloral or multifloral origin. We say it is monofloral honey when it comes in more than 45% of a single type of flower; instead, it will be multifloral honey or "thousand flower honey"when the origin of the nectar is more heterogeneous or diverse, that is, it has come from several species of flowers.

Between the best known monofloral honeys we have honey from:

  • Heather honey.
  • Rosemary honey.
  • Thyme honey
  • Orange blossom honey.
  • Eucalyptus honey.
  • Lavender honey.
  • Chestnut honey.
  • Beetroot honey.

Each monofloral honey has a particular flavor, smell and color. Thus, we have, for example, that orange blossom honey has a pale yellow color with an intense flavor that is reminiscent of the orange blossom. Other honeys, such as heather, are very dark and have a bitter taste.

How to remove honey from the comb

As bees make more honey than they need for them, a certain amount can be extracted ensuring that they always leave enough food, as we remember that it is always vital to take care of them. In fact, here you can see a project of Beehives in the city to save bees and in this other link you can learn more about The importance of bees.

Let's see, next, how to remove honey from the honeycomb step by step:

  1. When the beekeeper collects some honeycombs, the first thing he does is uncap them, that is, remove the thin layer of wax that protects the honey. This can be done with special knives or with machines with blades called uncapping machines.
  2. The uncapped combs are then introduced into the extractor. The extractor is a machine that makes the combs spin quickly, in such a way that the centrifugal force is in charge of extracting the honey from the comb.
  3. Finally, the honey extracted and stored in small deposits, is left to rest for a few days. In this way, if any impurity remains, it can be eliminated by decantation (honey being denser, remains at the bottom and the impurities rise to the surface).

Does honey expire?

If you are wondering about the honey expiration here we answer your question: honey retains all its beneficial properties for many years, so we can say that honey does not expire.

The honeys that we find in supermarkets have an expiration date on their labels, although it is something that is indicated only because it is mandatory. In fact, honey up to 3,000 years old has been found in some pharaonic tombs (as they used it for embalming) and it was in perfect condition.

Here below you can see the video that we have prepared on this interesting topic and, also, if you liked discovering all this about honey and bees, we encourage you to learn more about them with this other article by Green Ecologist about the Difference between bees. , wasp and bumblebee.

If you want to read more articles similar to How Bees Make Honey, we recommend that you enter our category of Animal Curiosities.

You will help the development of the site, sharing the page with your friends
This page in other languages: