How Honey Is Made

Honeybees use nectar to make honey. Nectar is about 80% water with some complex sugars. If you have ever pulled ahoneysuckle blossom out of its stem, the clear liquid that comes out of the stem is nectar. In Ghana, bees get nectar from flowers such as dandelions, sunflower, berry and fruit tree blossoms. They use their long, tubelike tongues like straws to suck the nectar out of the flowers. This is then stored in their “honey stomachs”. Bees have two stomachs, their honey stomach which they use like a nectar storage and their normal stomach. When full, the honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar and weighs almost as much as the bee. Honeybees visit up to 1500 flowers collecting nectar to fill their honey stomachs.

The honeybees return to the hive and pass the nectar onto other worker bees. The worker bees use special enzymes to break the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars. This ensures it is both more digestible for the bees and less likely to be attacked by bacteria while it is stored within the hive. The bees then spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water evaporates from it, making it a syrup. The bees fan the honey with their wings to dry it faster. Once the honey is thick enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with wax. The honey is stored and never goes bad until it is eaten.