Any beekeeper can tell you of the work it takes to get a jar of honey into the hands of the consumer. There are the stings, the lifting, the extraction, the bottling, boxing, transport and advertising. But the real work takes place in the lives of our bees! Let's take a moment to look into what it takes for bees to produce this golden honey we love so much. They are, after all, the only insect that produces a food that is consumed by humans. And, we need to appreciate every drop!
Did you know that just one teaspoon of honey is the life's work of twelve bees? Or that to make one pound of that liquid gold, bees must visit over two million flowers! And, that forager bees from one hive will collectively fly 90,000 miles (Three times the circumference of the earth) to collect the nectar for that one pound of honey!
The bees collect nectar from plants. The nectar is extracted straight from the flower and put into the honey bee’s honey sac. Once
this is filled, she returns to the hive to pass it off.
There are all kinds of specific jobs to be done inside the hive, all dictated by the stage of development the bees are in and also the specific need of the hive. The foragers deliver the nectar to the hive. Transport bees take the nectar from the foragers once they arrive back at the hive. There are "fanning" bees which fan their wings to create a draft which will reduce the moisture content of the developing honey to around 18%. Once the fanning bees have done their work, there are wax producing bees which form the wax necessary to seal the honey in the cells also referred to as "honey comb". Once sealed, the honey is preserved and can last not only for years but for centuries!
The more I learn about bees, the more fascinated with them I become. Hopefully you learned something now too. And, perhaps you have gained a little more admiration and appreciation for that jar of honey!