How Bees Make Honey

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How Bees Make Honey

Bees need different kinds of foods. One is honey made from nectar, the sugary juice that collects in the heart of the flowers; this provides the bees with honey for energy. The other comes from the anthers of flowers, which contain numerous small grains called pollen. Pollen differs from flower to flower and is the source of protein for bees. Most bees can either collect only pollen or nectar from the flower; it is stored in the bees special honey stomach ready to be transferred to the honey-making bees in the hive. If hungry, the bee has a valve in the honey stomach and a portion of the payload passes through to its own stomach to be converted to energy for its own needs.

When their honey stomachs are full, the honeybees return to the hive, where they are checked in by guard bees. The guard bees are workers who fight off enemies or predators and bees from other colonies by threatening them with their stings. Nectar is delivered to the house bees and is then passed mouth-to-mouth from bee to bee until its moisture content is reduced to approximately 16.5%. This changes the nectar into honey, a process is called ripening.

During ripening, the nectar sugars called sucrose change into honey sugars called glucose, fructose and maltose. Once this process is finished the workers cap the honey-filled cells with beeswax ready for the arrival of newborn baby bees. Pollen is mixed with nectar to make “bee bread’ and is fed to the larvae.

A baby bee needs food rich in protein if the bee colony is to survive and flourish. Sometimes the nectar is stored at once in cells in the honeycomb before the mouth-to-mouth working, because some evaporation is caused by the 34 degrees Celsius temperature inside the hive. This honey stays capped until food is needed by the hive and newborn baby bees or is collected by the beekeeper.

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