Honey is made by a colony of honey bees living in a hive. But not all bees are in charge of making the honey. Bees have different types of jobs, just like us. The queen bee is in charge of laying eggs while the male drone bees are tasked with protecting her. There are even bees whose main jobs are storing honey. But it is the female workers who are the foragers of the colony. They are in charge of gathering nectar in order to convert it into honey.
The nectar that the forager bee gather contain about 80% water, along with complex sugars. In order to store it long-term, the bees must convert the nectar into honey. Honey contains only 14-18% water and provides a much greater energy source than pure nectar. Foragers bees start the process of making honey by flying to a flower. They collect nectar which is really just a sugary juice by sucking it out with their tiny tongues. They store it in what’s called their honey stomach, which is different from their food stomach. Yes, that’s right they have two stomachs! When they are completely full, they fly back to the hive. Now it’s time for the other bees to help out. Once they come back to the hive they pass it to other worker bees. The bees then chew it for about half an hour. After being passed from bee to bee, it gradually turns into honey.
The bees then store it in honeycomb cells, which are like tiny wax jars. The honey is still a bit wet, so the bees begin to fan it with their wings to dry it out and become more sticky. When it’s ready, they seal the cell with a wax lid to keep it clean. A single worker bee produces only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. Working cooperatively, thousands of worker bees can produce over 200 pounds of honey for the colony within a year.
So that’s how bees make honey. That took some thinking!