Bees are social insects that live in large groups of up to thousands. For most of their lives, they work to ensure the survival of the hive. Each of the bees has a specific role within the honeycomb or hive, one of them is the queen and is in charge of procreating the following generations. The others are divided between worker bees and drones. The workers are those that are in charge of feeding the lava, building or repairing the honeycomb, and collecting the nectar and pollen from the flowers to create honey, royal jelly, wax, and propolis.
Do you know how bees make honey? Do you know what bees eat? Do you know which are the best-known types of natural honey in the world? we give you answers to these and other questions about the world of bees and the products they produce.
How bees make honey
Honey is one of the most demanded natural foods on the planet. Humans and other living things, such as bears and badgers, feed on the honey produced by bees.
Honey also contains properties that allow it to remain stored for years. Thus, their creators can stay safe, thanks to their reserves, while winter forces them to remain inside the hive or summer dries the flowers from which they extract nectar and pollen. We will show you how bees make honey :
- The whole process begins with the search, by the worker bees, for candidate flowers that provide quality pollen and nectar.
- Once the bees find flowers with nectar, they proceed to extract it using their long tongue and store it in the honey crop.
- Then, the bees already loaded with nectar, return to the hive.
- Once there, they proceed to regurgitate the substance, already processed by special digestive enzymes. They pass it on to other worker bees for further processing, through enzymatic digestion until it is ready for final storage.
- Subsequently, when the nectar has gone through several chewing and regurgitation cycles, the last bee deposits the substance in the cells of the wax combs.
- To ensure the final finish, another group of worker bees dehydrates the honey. They do this by fanning their wings over the honeycombs to remove up to 80% of the moisture in the substance.
- Finally, the bees taste the final product and if it has achieved the right texture and flavor, they seal the cell with wax generated from a gland in their abdomen.
What do bees produce?
Did you know that honey is bee vomit? And it is that these adorable insects take the nectar from the flowers and process it in their bodies until it becomes that sweet product that is so popular all over the world. Did you know that bees are also capable of creating other products such as wax, propolis, royal jelly, and pollen? We talk about exactly what bees produce :
Basically, honey is the main food of bees, and as mentioned before, it is a substance pre-digested by bees and a derivative of flower nectar. This sweet-tasting food is used by bees in difficult times for them, such as winter and extreme summer, however, it is also consumed in less quantity at other times and throughout their lives, from when they are larvae to their maturity. maturity.
Honey is rich in free amino acids and proteins, as well as lipids and carbohydrates. It also has a 25% sugar content and 4% fiber per 100 g of honey. This food is also a complete source of vitamins such as Thiamine, Nicotinamide, Pyridoxine, Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and Caroline.
Honey is used by humans for food, medicine, and to create cosmetics and toiletries. In addition, it also has a significant load of amino acids such as aspartic, glutamic, cysteine, leucine, and valine. In turn, it has mineral salts such as calcium, chlorine, magnesium, and potassium.
Secreted by the wax glands that the bees have in their abdomen, the wax, once solidified in the bags located under the glands, is processed in the mouths of the bees to later convert it into those hexagonal cells that, when united, form the honeycomb. Beeswax is used by people for cosmetics, making candles, and polishes.
Bee pollen serves as a food source for the bees and is carried by the bees on their legs to the hive for storage. Pollen is generally high in healthy properties and is used by humans for allergy remedies.
This compound, in high demand in Europe and Asia, which the flowers expel contains up to 30% protein, 30% carbohydrates, and fats, in addition to other special properties of each variety of pollen, which make it ideal for supplying deficiencies in nutrition.
Propolis is a resinous substance that bees extract from trees. These substances are used by bees to reinforce the honeycomb and make repairs in areas that have been damaged by weather or animals. In turn, propolis is used by bees as natural antibiotic and also to prevent the proliferation of fungi in the honeycomb and on their bodies.
The 2 specific uses that bees give to propolis are:
As a construction material for the creation of honeycombs, along with wax, and the modification of hive entrances. On the other hand, it also serves to waterproof the hexagonal cells, also called alveoli, where the queen bee will lay the eggs for the next generation of workers.
In turn, the propolis resin is essential to prevent the spread of diseases within the hive, as indicated above. This is due to its antibiotic properties. It is also used by bees to literally embalm small animals that may sneak into the hive and die there from bee stings.
Royal jelly is the only food that the queen bee consumes from her stage as a larva to maturity. This fluid is also the one that is given to bee larvae in general, once they become adults and if they are not queens, they become workers in the hive and will feed on honey and pollen for the rest of their lives.
Royal jelly is a sticky mixture of two types of secretions produced by worker bees. This combination is loaded with growth hormones, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and sugars, enough for the larvae and queen bees to develop healthily.
The diet of bees is not very varied, however, the few foods they consume are as necessary for them as they are for the rest of life on the planet. In fact, they are considered the most important animal in the world, although sadly today bees are in danger of extinction. A bee hive in its natural habitat will feed on 4 unique elements:
- Honey is made inside the honeycomb.
- Pollen and nectar are extracted from flowers.
Honey is one of the main foods for bees, but they consume it only at times when leaving the honeycomb is very dangerous, such as in winter or extreme summer. On the other hand, the nectar and pollen from the flowers are their usual diet, at least for the worker bees that must go out looking for them. The bees that remain inside the hive performing other functions eat the stored honey and pollen that their sisters bring.
For its part, there is a special food exclusively for bee larvae and the queen bee of the hive, royal jelly. This food is a sticky substance that the worker bees secrete with which they feed the larvae to accelerate their growth. It is also the only thing the queen bee will eat for the rest of her life.