How do bees make honey?
Hi this is Kirk with Barrier Pest Control. Today I’m going to do something a little different, something that I know I should have been doing a long time ago but haven’t yet: Video blogging. I hope this will give you an opportunity to see a little bit more of what we do, how we do things and some of my interests, etc.
Today the topic is ‘How do bees make honey?’ My fascination with bees started a few years ago. Being the owner of a pest control company, it seems we’ve always had the opportunity to be around bees, but mostly in removing them. People will call us and say “could you come get the hive in our shed, etc.,” and because we weren’t beekeepers we never retrieved hives ourselves, we would refer it out to an acquaintance of ours to go and pick it up for us. About three years ago my brother who lives in north Utah started becoming a beekeeper. I think he had a friend that started getting him interested, and that same year I captured a swarm. Unfortunately that swarm turned out to be a queenless swarm, so I ordered off the internet a queen from Minnesota, who ended up dying after only about a week. Then I ordered another one from southern California and had the same problem. I got another one that finally took….for a while anyway. It was a long process, a learning process for me. I bought a few books, looked at countless online articles and did a lot of research. Like I said, that hive thankfully lived through the winter, even though that hive requeened (supercedure) that spring! Anyway that was the beginning of my fascination with bees! Without further ado, let’s talk about how bees make honey!
Bees make honey because they store it as a food source. They store it against times of nectar dearth, bad weather, or to sustain them through the winter. Honey is also a key part of their regular diet.
Female worker bees that are tasked with foraging leave the hive in search of flowers that produce nectar. They suck the nectar out of the flower with a staw-like tongue called a proboscis.
The nectar is then transferred to a holding tank in the bee’s body called the honey stomach.
Inside the honey stomach the nectar mixes with an enzyme called invertase, which starts to transform the nectar into basic sugars more suitable for long term storage.
The worker then comes back to the hive, then begins a wonderfully disgusting process of regurgitating the nectar into other bee’s mouths. This goes on for a time until they place the nectar into the bottom of a cell.
When first placed into the cell, nectar’s water content is anywhere from 50% to 90%, which is nothing like the consistency of the thicker honey, whose water content is only about 18%.
The nectar begins to evaporate, which process is sometimes spurred on by worker bees fanning their wings to circulate air within the hive.
Somehow the bees know when the water content gets to about 18%, then the worker bees seal up the cell with wax, produced from wax glands on their bodies.
Sealed this way, honey can be stored indefinitely. This is what beekeepers take to extract the honey.
So there you have it! This is something that we are going to do more often. It’s going to be a little bit more informal. We’ll attempt to do some discussions, stuff on pest control, some interviews, and some more bee related videos. We hope you will subscribe to our Youtube channel so you can come back for more and hopefully enjoying these video blogs, thanks!