Honey bees harvest nectar from flowers to make honey for food. The honey they make feeds the entire colony of bees and gets them through the winter months. Here are the steps honey bees take to create nectar:
- Collect nectar from flowers
Worker bees seek out nectar-rich flowers and drink the nectar with their long, tubular mouthpieces called proboscises. After a bee sucks up the nectar, it is stored in a special stomach called the honey stomach. Once there, an enzyme breaks down the complex sugars of the nectar into simple sugars.
- Take the nectar to the hive
After their honey stomachs are full, the worker bees return to the hive. They regurgitate the broken down nectar and give it to hive bees that ingest the nectar and break it down further.
- Store the honey
The hive bees then regurgitate the nectar into honeycomb cells in the hive. Once the nectar has been deposited into a honeycomb cell, the hive bees hover above the cells and vigorously beat their wings. This work evaporates any water in the nectar, thickens the sugar and turns it into honey. Once the honey is made, the hive bees seal the honeycomb cells with wax, so the honey can be used later.