What Do Bees Do with Honey? is a common question that most Beekeepers have been asked by inquisitive customers. Honey is the delicious sugary liquid made exclusively by Honeybees over summer and is best enjoyed over toast, in cakes or in tea as a lovely natural sweetner.
Honey is a delicious liquid produced by Honeybees and starts off as nectar in flowers. Honeybees will forage up to 3 miles in any direction from their hive (going up to 6-7 miles if they’re struggling to find a suitable food source), gathering liquid nectar from flowers. The nectar is then placed into the Honeycombs within the hive, where the moisture content of the nectar is reduced by the bees, to bring it to the thick runny mixture we’re then able to put in jars! By reducing the moisture content, the bees are preventing bacteria from living in the mixture and raising the sugar content – clever little bees!
By storing Honey, Honeybees are simply stocking up the larder! To really understand why Honeybees store Honey, we must first understand how bees work throughout the seasons. In brief, during Springtime, as the weather warms up and flowers start to grow and produce both nectar and pollen, bees are also warming up, waking up and beginning to forage for food.
As we enter Summer, the hive is in full swing. The new influx of food at the beginning of Spring has ensured that numbers of Honeybees within the hive have been boosted, meaning there’s an entire army of foragers for each hive. This army of foragers go out each day to find lucrative food sources, signalling to the rest of the hive when a good nectar source has been found. As the nectar comes back, it is stored and it’s moisture content reduced, leaving them with Honey!
Towards the end of Summer, heading into Autumn, Honeybees are now starting to look towards Winter. The Autumn still has plenty of flowers to offer in terms of forage, but with the rapidly changing weather and colder days, foraging opportunities are few and far between. It’s at this point where, if a hive hasn’t worked hard to stock up during the Summer, they have little chance of surviving the Winter.
Finally, as Winter arrives, the Hive enters a state of Torpor. Torpor is very similar to a Hibernation, however, whereas a hibernation involves a constant state of being dormant, being in Torpor is dependent on external conditions – in the case of the Honeybee, these external conditions are the rapid change in temperatures amongst others. At this point, the bees have reduced numbers in their colony by roughly half, by kicking out the old bees, the dying and the Male Drones. They then group together in a ball to keep the temperature of the bees at a constant in order to prevent succumbing to the cold weather outside the hive and remain there, only leaving on warmer days to go to the toilet outside the colony.
Yes! During that Winter period while in Torpor, the Honeybees are eating the Honey stores they’ve collected throughout the summer. During the Summer period, they ensure that they completely pack the hive full of honey, much more than they’ll ever need to see them through the Winter to Spring. Tree Bee’s rescued Bees are left with their honey stores throughout the Winter, with us beekeepers removing the leftovers for ourselves and our customers in the Spring, when the flowers come back out and foraging can once again begin.
What Do Bees Do with Honey? In short, they eat it! Honey contains all the necessary nutrients and sugars for Honeybees to continue to thrive. Whilst flying, a Honeybee beats its wings at around 11,500 times a minute, which is why they require such a high calorie food source, especially for them!
Has this article made you hungry for some Honey? Why not head over to our shop, where you can browse all our available Honey?