How Do Bees Turn Pollen Into Honey?

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Bees use the parts of their mouths to make nectar a little bit at a time, layering it on the walls of their hive. Discover how water needs to evaporate to turn nectar into honey with information from a biology teacher in this free video on insects.

Part of the Video Series: Wasp, Hornets, & Bees
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Video Transcript

One of my favorite books growing up as a child was anything about Winnie The Pooh. Now, if you're a Winnie The Pooh fan like I am you'll know that one of Pooh's favorite treats was honey, but Pooh tended to always get himself into a little bit of trouble, because wherever there was honey there was also bees. In fact, that's where honey comes from. I'm Janice Creneti, and I've been teaching environmental science for about twenty years, and I'm here to talk to you today about how bees actually make honey. It's a pretty simple process, but a really important one. The first thing that you may not know is that honey exis actually exists for, not for us to eat, but for the larva of bees to feed on. In fact, it's a really great food source because it's resistant to to bacteria and to mold. That's one of the reasons that you can keep it in your cupboard, and you don't have to put it in your refrigerator. So, this food can stick around for months at a time for the larva to feed off of. Well, how do the bees actually go through this process of making honey? You may have seen a picture of a honeycomb before, and this is how this gets constructed. Well first of all, the bees fly from flower to flower, drinking nectar. That's actually their food source. It's very high in sugar, and the bees sure do love that. Well, while they're feeding on the nectar they get some pollen on their body as well, and they also use that to pollinate other flowers. That's why bees and flowers have such a strong connection. Well, the bees fly back to their hive with this nectar in their mouth, and they actually begin to take the nectar and one little drop at a time; manipulating it into their mouthparts, they begin to layer it on the walls. There are some bees that are called worker bees whose sole job is to make sure that there's always honey available for the eggs that are going to be hatching soon. Once the droplets are on there the nectar is still pretty wet, and most of that water has to actually be evaporated to make the nectar turn into honey, and to make that honey resistant to that mold and bacteria I was talking about. So, the bees will actually use their wings to fan that honey and evaporate about eighty percent of the water out of the nectar; turning it into that more solid material that you're probably used to seeing. I'm Janice Creneti, and this is how bees make honey.


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