How does the honey bee make honey?

How does the honey bee make honey?

Only the honey bee (or honeybee) makes honey. 

Honeybees are in the Apis genus. The best-known honey bee is the Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera).

The honey bee lives in a colony of about 60,000 individual bees. They live in a bee hive. 

Each honey bee makes only about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its life time, but all together, they make a lot of honey.

Pollen is collected in baskets on the worker bees’ legs or on hairy branches on their legs. But honey is not made from pollen. It is made from nectar, which is the juice from flowers. 

A bee finds a flower and uses its long tongue to suck nectar (a sweet liquid) from the flower. It is like using a straw to suck the juice from the flower.

The nectar is stored in a second stomach, referred to as the honey stomach.

When the honey stomach is full, the bee returns to the hive and passes the nectar through its mouth to other bees. As the nectar is passed from bee to bee, it becomes honey. 

The honey bees store the honey in honeycombs, which are hexagonal cells, like litte six-sided boxes. The honey bees flap their wings over the honeycombs to make the honey thicker. When it is thick, the honey bees seal the cell with a wax lid. It is like making honey in jars (cells) to eat later. 

Human bee-keepers take some of the honeycombs from the hive to make honey for people to eat.

Question from: Amitra H., 16 years old, in America, who wanted to know how honey is made, and if it is made from bee pollen.

Location of photographs: Paris, France

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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