June 20, 2008

How Bees Make Honey

Young forager on 'Reiter' thyme
Honeybees use their proboscis to extract nectar. They hold the nectar in their honey stomach, where enzymes begin to convert the sugars. When they return to the hive, the nectar is passed on to a sister, and she contributes her own enzymes. They store the nectar in a nearby comb to ripen.

It's mostly water at this point, but the bees evaporate the moisture by fanning their wings. When it's down to about 18%, they cover the cell with wax to stop the drying. The picture in the last post shows both capped and uncapped honey. Theoretically, had the whole comb been capped, we could have robbed the bees and harvested it.

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