How Do Honeybees Make Honey?
Imagine doing the grocery shopping for a whole hive of bees! The older female workers do just that! They are the field bees we see gathering pollen and nectar from flowers in the spring and summer. Nectar is the liquid that will be turned into honey back at the hive. Each day, these bees might fly several miles from the hive just to get nectar! They really are ‘busy bees’!
They are perfect for the job, using long tongues like drinking straws to suck up the sweet flower nectar. They also have two stomachs, storing the nectar in one called a honey stomach, which acts like the grocery bags we bring home from the store. It can take over a thousand flowers to fill the honey stomach.
When the honey stomach is full, the field bees return to the hive and spit up the nectar into the mouth of the younger female house bees.
The house bees munch on the nectar for about half an hour, chewing it like gum and breaking it down with special chemicals, making it easier for the bees to eat. Then, they deposit the chewed nectar in the wax tubes called cells that make up the honeycomb. The honeycomb forms the inside of the hive, like a food pantry.