Honey is bees’ way of preserving their food so they have something to eat when there aren’t many flowers in bloom. Honey can be stored in the hive and consumed when needed. If bees stored nectar without turning it into honey first, it would ferment.
What is honey made of?
Bees eat two types of food, both of which come from flowers. Pollen is their protein source, and nectar is their carbohydrate. Nectar is a sugary liquid produced by plants, with sucrose being the main sugar. Enzymes in the bees' honey stomachs break this down into the simpler sugars glucose and fructose. Honey also contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and compounds from the flowers. The unique flavours, fragrances and colours of different kinds of honey depend on the type of plants the nectar comes from.
How honey is made
Sweet honey facts
A single bee will create about one 12th of a teaspoon (0.8g) of honey during her lifetime.
It takes 2 million flower visits for a honeybee colony to produce 500g (1lb) of honey.
Honey is not a uniform substance - it ranges in colour from almost transparent to very dark.
There are as many different flavours of honey as there are flowering plants for bees to forage on.
Honey is bee food - when there’s plenty of nectar to be had, a colony will produce enough to store. During periods when there are not a lot of flowers in bloom or the bees can’t get out to forage due to bad weather, they’ll use up the stored honey. Coming up to winter, bees need to have plenty of honey stored to feed on and keep warm through the winter months. Bees will gorge on honey before swarming. This gives them the energy needed to build a new nest.
So next time you’re enjoying some tasty honey, save a thought for these industrious insects and the incredible teamwork it takes to make honey.
Want to learn more and help save bees?
Check out our online course at TheBeekeeper.org. The course is full of fascinating videos about bees and is available with a 30-day free trial. And what’s more, the profits go towards protecting all pollinators, including honeybees.
If you want to start harvesting your own honey, then Flow Hive have you covered. Our revolutionary harvesting system allows you to collect honey from the hive without disturbing the bees. We stock a range of beehives, equipment and have special bundle offers that include everything you need to get started. We also offer lots of support and helpful resources for beginner beekeepers.