eli5: Why do bees make so much extra honey?


Beekeepers take all the extra honey leaving just a bit for the hive itself. Do bees predict someone is going to take their honey? Do they make only a certain amount and then stop or so they just go ham and make as much as possible? Mmmm honey ham..

In: 1

They don’t make extra honey. They collect enough to expand their colony. Every animal is opportunistic. If there is plentiful food they consume it and raise a larger brood/next generation and thrive. So with domesticated bees they are collecting honey with the intention of raising more queens and workers and more hives.

Just thinking out loud here, but if I had to fathom a guess, I would imagine that eons of evolution in a world where your hive gets robbed every season by something, you’d learn to make extra for the taxes.

Captive bees are also fed sugar, which is cheaper and plentiful, so we take much of their honey, and give them back sugar(water).

That’s why you need a bee keeper; he cares for bees: adding tarragon leaves against parasites, providing easier-already-half-made wax base for storing honey so bees need less effort (and in turn, honey) to create those from scratch, and as someone else mentioned feeding them syrup, – accounting for things that would normally hit the bee population much harder, thus requiring extra honey stockpiled to pull through.
And bee keepers take that into account; they monitor the hive and as autumn draws near, they take less and less honey, so bees have enough of stockpile for themselves (and if harvest wasn’t as full, they take less). They also insulate hives before winter with pillows for warmth, ect.

In support of Romperover, bees just make as much as they do in preparation for winter, worker bees have very short life expectancy in summer. They gather it all for storage to make new bees and for food in the winter. They don’t have a plan, just that behavior, if a beekeeper robs too much the hive will fail, bears and others don’t care. The tax idea has some merit, Africanized bees are dangerous here since that level of response is necessary to protect the hive there.