how do bees make honey exactly?


how do bees make honey exactly?

In: 2287

Honey starts its life as nectar, which is sugar water with some other stuff in it that flowers make to tempt pollinators into visiting. A bee will fill its tiny bee tummy full of nectar – but it’s not the normal eating stomach, it’s a different organ called a “homey stomach”.

The honey stomach contains enzymes that break down certain of the sugars in the nectar; this helps prevent the sugar from crystallizing in the honey.

The nectar is passed from the foraging bee to a bee that stays at home, which regurgitates and re-swallows the honey repeated over the course of about 30-60 minutes, which helps mix it up and make sure the enzymes hit all of it, and also removes water – if the honey has a low enough amount of water, it won’t go bad. The bee may transfer the honey to another bee at some point in this process as well. The bee then transfers the honey to a cell in the comb, and it or other bees wave their wings over the honey to further dry it out through evaporation. When a cell is full and the honey concentrated enough, the cell is sealed with wax, further helping prevent spoilage.


Basically a bee passes flower vomit to another bee then another for 30-60 minute until honey actually cooked the way it is.

Edit: In just summarized the long answer in thread. For more info look for other answers to.



Honey is bee vomit. The most awesome sweet substance, next to agave, is bee vomit. That’s how honey is made. There: ELI5.

Bees are natures bulemics. They go out and eat all this nectar, and then go back to the hive and see the other ‘skinny’ bees and throw up. The vomit is kinda sticky, so they fan it until most of the water evaporates. Then they go out and do it again. And again. Like an entire bees lifetime of vomit is about 1/3 of a teaspoon. We call it honey and, fun fact, it never goes bad.

Basically bees don’t make honey so much as they remove water. If you feed bees sugar water the “honey” is terrible .


And where do bees get the wax from?

Bees eat a ‘syrup’ that comes from flowers. They all it up and than throw it up into the hive. Then they flap their wings to dry it up a bit to make honey.

Honey is bee vomit essentially.

While there’s a common belief that bees have a special stomach for nectar, tbat’s incorrect: it’s their stomach, not some other less offensive thing, although it’s usually referred to as the “crop”. The production of honey involves a chemical and a physical process.

The chemical process starts when the worker bee collects nectar and adds some enzymes before swallowing it, mainly invertase that splits sucrose into glucose and fructose. When the bee arrives back at the hive, she regurgitates the partially processed nectar to a waiting house bee who swallows the nectar adding more enzymes. This passing on of the nectar happens a few times, with some water being removed at each step.

Eventually the physical process takes over when the focus is on concentrating the nectar which started as around 80% water. It is now a bit more concentrated, and it’s hung out to dry across a few cells. The evaporation of water continues until eventually the water content is less than 20%, at which point it’s packed into cells as ripe honey.

It’s eventually capped with wax. Some bees cap honey with a little air pocket under the capping, making the honey comb appear white, while others don’t, making the capping appear wet.

Ultimately honey is bee vomit – in fact, it’s been eaten & regurgitated a number of times by multiple bees. However the bee’s crop connects to the proventriculous which is an active valve and filter, removing pollen from the nectar and passing it on to the bee’s digestive system.

There is another kind of honey called honeydew honey – it’s extremely dark, sometimes completely black. This is made when the bees collect honeydew, essentially the poop of aphids. The result is this striking honey, effectively vomited up aphid poop.

Honey itself is around 80% sugars, mainly glucose and fructose with some other sugars mixed in. The ratio of glucose to fructose determines how fast the honey crystallises, with high glucose causing an early crystallisation. So Canola/rapeseed crystallises quickly and ivy crystallises almost immediately, indicating that these have a high concentration of glucose.

Has there ever been another species besides bees known to make honey?

Bees have two stomachs, one for digestion, and one to store nectar. They eat the nectar from a flower and it goes into their “honey stomach” where there are special enzymes that change the nectar into honey. An enzyme is a special protein interacts with molecules and changes them. In this case breaking down the sugars in the nectar into honey.

When worker bees who harvest the nectar then take it to the hive and vomit the nectar/honey into a honeycomb hex, and then other bees in the hive will drink it up and regurgitate it over and over to churn it. Then they will use their wings to cool it down in the final stage.

Kind of a weird process to think about, but many biological processes transform the food we eat. Honey just do happens to be made inside a bee’s stomach.