What shop does a Honey Bee get its food from???
We ask our children these days a similar question….” Where does your food come from?” I bet most children would say from Tesco or Asda or Aldi or even Morrison’s, not giving it a second thought about where and how it all begins. So let us give the humble Honey Bee some thought and find out some interesting facts about the shop that they visit and the food that they produce.
As we know our gardens in the warm Summer months have lots of important pollinators visiting which includes bumble bees, solitary bees, butterflies and many more, but most importantly we have Honey Bees. Honey Bees visit the flowers in our gardens in order to collect pollen and nectar to make the lovely syrup that we know as Honey.
Pollen is a honey bees’ protein food whereas Nectar is their carbohydrate food. Pollen is put into the comb cells and mixed with nectar and digestive fluids then sealed with a drop of honey, this is known as Bee Bread. Bee Bread is also known as Ambrosia (food of the gods).
Bee bread is fed to the honey bee larvae and young worker bees who will continue to eat this for a while as it enables development of glands that produce food for the larvae and the queen bee.
Honey is made from the nectar. The bees, extract the nectar with their long tube like tongues, this is then stored within their second stomach known as its ‘Crop’. Whilst in the Crop the pollen mixes with enzymes thus transforming its chemical composition which in turn makes it more suitable for long term storage. On returning to the hive it then passes the nectar to another bee by regurgitation, this process is repeated then the nectar is ready to be put into the honeycombs. Once the nectar is in the honeycombs the bees reduce the amount of water it contains by fanning it with their wings, it then becomes a thick syrup which we know as Honey. The bees then seal off the cell with a plug of wax.
Honey is a great source of all things good, it is packed full of vitamins. Vitamin B6. Vitamin B3 from raw honey (not pasteurised) which is beneficial to increase good cholesterol. Vitamin B2 also from raw honey helps with the breakdown of fats and amino acids. Vitamin B1 breaks down carbohydrates to fuel the body. Vitamin B5 this maintains the balance of hormones and keeps the nervous system in top condition. And last but by no means least fabulous Vitamin C which is by far one of the most effective vitamins available to humans. It boosts the immune system helping to protect the body from infections and disease.
Nurse bees will process honey into Royal Jelly. The Royal Jelly will then be fed to all the larvae for the first three days after they are laid. After that only the larvae that are chosen to become queens will be fed the Royal Jelly. Royal Jelly contains lots of different vitamins including biotin which helps the body convert food into energy.
Bees make honey as a way of storing food to eat over the colder winter months as they are unable to forage as there are fewer flowers for them to gather food.
So there we have it, Honey Bees only like to shop in the flower shop and it is here that they can pick up two types of store cupboard staple, Pollen and Nectar, with this they are able to produce Bee Bread, Honey and Royal Jelly. So tell your kids the wonders of the humble Honey Bee!!