Do Bees Drink Nectar From Flowers? (+explainer Video)

In the beehive, each bee has a different and very crucial task to fulfill. The Worker bees’ job is to collect pollen and nectar from flowers, blooming bushes, and tree buds, but how exactly does it gather the nectar?

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Do bees drink nectar?

Nectar is a sweet whitish fluid that bees can suck out from the bud of a plant. Yes, bees drink nectar- its sweet smell attracts not only the bees but also other insects, birds, and animals. To collect the nectar, bees must drink it with their long trunk and store it inside the crop. The collected goods then get transported back to the beehive, where they can be used for a variety of things.

In the following parts, you can find out more about how the bees choose which plant to go to and how they prioritize the plants. You will also learn what pollen is how bees gather it from the plant. And if you want to be able to tell how honey is done and much more, you should definitely read the following parts!

What do bees eat?

Bees are insects with a very developed vision and smell. That’s why their food choices are very color-based and very sugar-smelly. Loaded with pollen and nectar, working bees fly at an average speed of 27.5km/h and without a load, they can reach up to 33km/h. During the flight, bees expend a lot of energy. The concentration of sugar in their hemolymph is 2%, but at 1% they cannot fly, and at 0.5% they stop moving. During the flight, they consume 10 mg of sugar/h – the need for food increases by 50 times. With a full honey hug, the bees can fly for 15 minutes, traveling a distance of 6 to 8 km (3.8 – 5 miles). Their 4 main food sources are: Nectar, Pollen, Propolis, and Honey!

How do bees know which plant to go to?

As mentioned earlier, bees have a very well-developed seeing. So they rely on their sense of vision to locate pollen and nectar-rich plants. But bees don’t see all colors, their spectrum ranges from ultraviolet to orange, which means that they can’t see pure red flowers. Every flower attracts the bee with its specific ultraviolet signs (not traceable with the normal human eye). Those signs are also called “bee guides”. But not only the color attracts bees to flowers, but its shape is also very important. Some of the plant`s blossoms have elaborate modifications to ensure easier pollen gathering and others are just flat and the landing on them can be done more easily. Here I have listed 10 Honey Plants, Trees and Bushes for the Apiary, which provide the bees with pollen and nectar the whole year.

A study done by the Natural Environment Research Council showed that bees tend to visit conical-celled flowers more often than just flat-celled flowers. You can compare it to a climber who is trying to get a hold of an ice-covered grip. However, on the conical cells, they were able to find an easy-grip, stop beating their wings for balance and collect their nectar and pollen in peace. The study also showed that bees recognize those conical-celled flowers and more than 80% of the time they prefer to land on those, rather than on flat ones.

What is pollen?

Pollen is in most cases a yellow powder that can be found at the blossom of a flower. More precisely, pollen are the cells of a tree, a bush, or a flower, you can compare it to the human sperm. When a plant is ready to reproduce itself (mostly 1 time per year) its blossom blooms and creates this little powder, which can be spread to other plants by either the wind or an insect. So if bees go extinct our fauna won’t be able to reproduce itself!

Pollen can be very sticky and bees use that to their advantage. Every bee has a large number of little hairs all around her body, the highest density of which is around her legs. So when the bee gets to a flower it just has to rub itself inside the blossom and there we go, all the pollen is already stuck on to her body. After collecting all the pollen, bees tend to keep it in a special area located at their back feet, called the pollen baskets.

How do bees make honey out of nectar and pollen?

When the bee is fully loaded she comes back to the hive, to give all the gathered goods to the indoor bees. Which store the nectar in special wax cells inside the honeycomb at a temperature of around 32-33°C, so that the nectar can loosen up on moisture. After the nectar has reached a moisture level of 50%, bees pass it from mouth to mouth till the nectar is only 20% moist. Then they mix it with enzymes and honey is made. Finally, the honey is placed in big storage cells which are then waxed in readiness for the arrival of the newly hatched bee larvae!

Feeding larvae with nectar

It takes around 400 bees to gather 1kg of honey for six weeks. On average, a hive contains 40,000 bees. If a queen should be hatched, bees mix royal jelly which is nothing more than honey with some pollen, but if working bees should be born, then the provided food is called beebread, a mixture of pollen with nectar.

Do bees drink water?

Every one of you has been at an open dinner or a picnic in the park and you have surely seen how bees gather around food and drinks. That’s because they can smell the sweet aroma of the liquids and it attracts them. Bees aren’t aggressive insects, but if bothered while eating and drinking, they can get really annoying and maybe even sting you.

Even though water has no sugar in it, it plays a huge part in the bee’s live. Bees are very clever creatures and they build their hives in specific forms and shapes so that the air can cool it down and the temperature can stay constant. But in extreme heath conditions, they collect water to cool the nest inside. They also collect gum of threes and in combination with water they mix it to propolis. The propolis is used to plug in holes inside the nest, it’s even used by the bees to stop diseases, by putting a firm layer inside the cells. If bees see a hole, they tend to plug it.

A couple of years ago a rat made it inside the nest, but the bees stung it many times till it died. But the threat wasn’t eliminated at all, because dead bodies dissolve and may also bring diseases with them. So what the bees did, they covered the whole dead body with propolis, so it couldn’t dissolve and harm the bees anymore till the beekeeper comes for his regular inspection and removes the dead body.     


Hey there, I'm Jan! Bees are my passion since I was a little kiddo. My grandpa always said that passing knowledge to new people is the most honorable and meaningful thing to do. So here I am, passing my knowledge to you. Protect the bee, respect the bee!

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