Learn About Bees
Why do bees make honey? How do bees make honey? It’s time for a lesson in one of the world’s most fascinating creatures.
Why do bees make honey?
Bees produce honey to sustain their hive, and of course their queen, over winter. When the temperature drops, it’s not only that the weather is too inhospitable for bees to fly, there are drastically less flowering plants, and therefore reduced food sources. So throughout the warmer months, they spend their days diligently collecting nectar and stockpiling honey for those chilly days ahead.
How do bees make honey?
Bees make honey from nectar produced in the nectaries of plants usually deep down inside the flowers. Bees collect nectar to transform into honey as their carbohydrate source. Nectar is a rich carbohydrate composed of fructose, glucose and sucrose plus many other nutrients from the plant.
During the gathering process, the nectar is mixed with the saliva of the bee. Once inside the hive, the forager passes the contents to other bees within the hive. This passing of the nectar between bees forms an integral part of the processing of the nectar into honey. It is where the bees add their own enzymes to the nectar from the flowers. The bees then store the unripened honey in the cells of the honeycomb. Over time, the honey will ripen and concentrate, and will eventually become the liquid gold that is shared by the bees and the beekeepers.
Bees make the equivalent of 3 trips around the earth to make a jar of honey.
These mysterious and beautiful little creatures are the keystone species on which our food security depends. Beekeepers keep bees for vital pollination services across Australia’s agricultural food sector. The value of pollination services provided by Australian honeybees is $14.2 billion*. Through buying Australian honey you are making an investment in pollination and fresh food; one that will keep the cost of our fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds affordable into the future. This will ultimately prevent the need for mass importation of the delicious foods that Australia currently grows and enjoys.
*The Economic Valuation of Australian Managed and Wild Honey Bee Pollinators in 2014 – 2015, John M Karasiński, September 2018.