Production of Honey



On average each hive hosts about 30,000 - 40,000 bees. The production of honey is the exclusive task of honeybees. The latter comprise the absolute majority of the population in a colony. The worker bees travel long distances to "visit" more than 3,000 flowers and trees. They suck the nectar and pollen from flowers or the melitoma. The latter is a substance secreted from the body of plant parasites that absorb the juice of plants to convert it into melitoma in their digestive system. A quantity of this melitoma is used by the plant parasites while the rest is secreted. Bees collect it either from the body of parasites or from the top of leaves and store it in their lower abdomen (honey stomachs). There the nectar (80% water) is transformed into sugars (fructose and glucose). Loaded with nectar, the bees fly back to the hive by taking the shortest path. Immediately upon their return, bees store their invaluable load into the cells of the honeycomb. Then other worker bees flap their wings fast to create a current of air to evaporate water contained in the nectar. The honeybees return to the hive and pass the nectar onto other worker bees.

These bees suck the nectar from the honeybee's stomach through their mouths. These "house bees" "chew" the nectar for about half an hour. During this time, enzymes are breaking the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars so that it becomes more digestible for the bees and less likely to be infected by bacteria when stored in the hive. The bees then spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water evaporates from it, making it a thicker syrup. The bees make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax. The honey is stored until it is eaten. In one year, a colony of bees consumes between 120 and 200 pounds of honey. The bees store honey four times their annual needs.