What do Bees do With Honey? (+explainer Video)

I`ve known that honey bees collect nectar and pollen from the flowers and they make honey out of it, but what do they do with that honey? So I made a research and found those pretty amazing things about it.

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What do bees do with honey?

Bees use honey as an all-year-round food supply. The honey gets distributed, a portion of it goes for the production of beebread for the working bees, a portion of it goes to the production of royal jelly for the queen larvae and the rest is stored in special cells inside the honeycomb which are sealed with beeswax.

How much honey a hive needs to live through the winter depends on the bee’s variety, their location and winter temperatures which all affect the amount of energy the bees use in building, sustaining and defending their hives.

How is honey made?

It’s important to say, that honey is more to the bees than a sweet treat. The two main ingredients for Honey are: nectar and pollen.

Nectar and pollen can be found in many flowers, bushes, and tree blossoms. After gathering and being fully loaded, the bee comes back to the hive. While flying all the nectar is stored inside the crop and all the pollen they’ve gathered is spread all around her body, attached to the hairs but most of it is behind her back legs.  The gathered nectar is then given to the indoor bees, so they can store it in special wax cells on the inside of the honeycomb where the temperature is 32-33°C. The nectar can slowly evaporate till the moisture level is around 50%, after that bees start a new process. They pass the nectar from mouth-to-mouth till almost all of the remaining fluids are sucked out of it. Then they mix this gluey substance with enzymes from inside their stomach and honey is made.

What qualifies honey as being favorable for food?

Honey is made up of sugars that contain carbohydrates, which are essentially needed for the generation of energy. This energy is vital in ascertaining that the different categories of duties within the hive can take place while ensuring that the colony maintains its optimal state and temperature. This is especially vital during the winter season when they cannot forage yet the hive still needs to remain fed and sustained.

Do bees eat their own honey?

Yes, they do, but not every bee is a honey bee. Honey bees tend also to collect other liquids as well as juices from plants. Their nutrition requirement has a wide range, including vitamins, minerals, lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates. All those are needed for the bee to be healthy and to be able to take care of their young. In addition, Queens, workers, males and the larvae require a vitamin B complex and a lot of vitamin C for their growth.

How much honey do bees produce?

Amount of bees per beehive(summer)50,000 -100,000 bees
Amount of honey produced by 1 bee1/12 teaspoon per lifetime!
Amount of honey per year per colony60-100 pounds
Water needed per 1 gallon of honey8 gallons
Honey needed per year per 1 beehive40-80 pounds of honey, depending on beehive population
Honey needed for winter35 pounds
Amount of flowers visited by 1 bee per 1 flight50-100
1 pound of honey2million flowers must be visited
Distance traveled per 1 pound of honey55,000 miles
If a bee flies around the worldShe needs 1 ounce of honey

The process of making honey

The process begins with the bees collecting nectar from the flower fields, the nectar is slightly sweet yet watery. It is also considered a sucrose sugar. The nectar is found inside the blossom of a flower.

Once the bees enter a given flower, they extract the nectar using their proboscis, that is, a straw-like shape at the front of their head and this nectar is then stored in a special sac, described as a honey stomach/honey sack. With the honey stomach is full the bee returns to the hive to drops of the load.

Meanwhile, within the flower, there are pollen grains which bees come into contact with and rub their bodies and those grains stick to their body-hair. The bees deliver the gathered materials (namely pollen and nectar) to the hive from which starts the separation and conversion process. The nectar is chewed and passed from one bee to another as the enzymes change its` PH value.

At this stage, the nectar mixed together with the bee enzymes contains plenty of water thus cannot be stored. To remedy this, the bees spread the honey on the honeycomb , which increases its surface area, and then the honey is blown by bees using their wings in a fan-like manner to a point where all its moisture evaporates. A lot of energy is required for honey blowing, the blowing also maintains the hive at an optimal temperature. The final step involves storage and to do this the bees deposit the honey into cells within the honeycombs and cap it with beeswax, where it is kept until the bees start consuming it.

When do bees make honey?

Since nectar and pollen are needed for the honey production, early spring to late summer is the busiest period and most profitable for the bees. In autumn there arent so many blooming trees or flowers and the winter is too cold.

Do all bees make honey?

The short answer would be, no, not all bees produce honey. But let’s start with the fact, that there are more than 20,000 different types to this date known in the world. Around 4000 of them live in the USA. Those 20,000 bee species are divided into seven families and only one of them contains honey-making bees, the Apidae. But not all the bee species inside the family make honey, like the digger bees, carpenter bees or the oil collector bees.

One common thing between all honey bees is the social structure, also called eusocial species, which means “truly social”. Very typical for a eusocial nest is the division of labor- one queen and many worker bees with their different tasks. Want to find out if wild bees make their own honey?

Why do bees store their honey?

One of the main reasons for animals, insects, or any other living being to store food, is to prevent themselves from hungering to death in times where supplies are in a shortage. On the one hand, bees store their honey for the colder winter months, where there aren’t so many flowers or blooming trees. On the other hand, bees store their honey, so when the new larvae hatch, they can feed them.

A third and not so known reason is when the bee colony gets too big and a new mother bee hatches, the old one gets to swarm out with some of the other worker bees and they take some honey with them, so they can start their own hive somewhere else. Bees need the sugar that’s inside the honey because if the sugar concentration in their hemolymph drops under 1% they can’t fly and if it’s below 0.5% that’s critical for them, they might even get paralyzed and won’t be able to move at all. When flying they consume 10 mg of sugar per hour.

What quantity of honey do bees require in-store?

Bees aren’t good mathematicians, they can’t tell how much is enough therefore they just produce until the season comes when it’s nearly impossible to get the resources needed for making honey, but Statistically, bees eat up an average of 25kgs of honey during winter, therefore it is safe to say that bees can generate more than 25kgs of honey in a good year.

Where is extra honey stored?

Extra honey arises when the whole hive is fed and some remain; or where honey is simply being stored for the future. When extracting honey, one primarily expects to find it sealed by beeswax and in framed honeycombs. These honeycombs are what is known as frames. It should however be noted that different beehives have different methods of extraction for purity.

What happens when honey is stolen from a beehive?

If all the honey is stolen from the beehive or the beekeeper takes it all, the bees will be in serious food shortage. They will start to try and gather new supplies and create new honey however, this works only from early spring to late summer, in the rest of the time there aren’t enough blooming flowers and trees for them to recover and the bee family will most likely die. In some cases, however, the bees tend to swarm away and build another hive somewhere else together with their queen, which if you are a beekeeper translates to a great loss.

Caring and well knowledgeable beekeepers know the right amount of honey to leave for their bees so that they may survive and continue providing honey for them. The beekeeper can as well, depending on his demand for honey, harvest all the honey without starving the colony by ensuring they remain fed, by giving them sugar syrup or pollen patties.

Do bee-larvae eat honey?

Worker and drone larvae are fed for the first 6 days with royal jelly, also known as bee milk, from day 6 to day 10 they are switched to honey and pollen, what is also called, beebread and a tiny bit of royal jelly. If you wish to find out more detailed information about larvae and honey, check my article out.

The future queen however is fed with the royal jelly throughout her developmental stages. Scientists believe the reason might be that the royal jelly contains dietary supplements, fertility stimulants and other medicines as well as vitamins B which are vital for the queen`s development.

When I eat honey, do I hurt bees?

After researching this topic, I didn’t find a single investigation that points to harm, when collecting honey from bees. Eating honey doesn’t and won’t hurt bees in any way, as long as you don’t kill the bees to get it or don’t take all of it. But don’t get frightened, every responsible beekeeper leaves enough honey to the bees and no one would kill his own bees, this would destroy his business.

Bee colonies tend to have a surplus of food anyway, so by normally subtracting some of the honey that’s being stashed, there is absolutely no pressure on the bees. And one other product that comes as a bonus to the honey, that’s beeswax. A product used in many different departments, mainly for cosmetics, candles or moisturizers. If not collected by the human, bees throw it out when not needed anymore.  

Is it morally wrong to take from the bees?

In my opinion, it is not morally wrong to harvest honey and to take it from the bees. My knowledge has shown me, that bees always work at their best, so when taking honey from them, they adapt very fast and reproduce it. Also, good beekeepers always take care of their bees, in the end, the effect they do their living out of that. I also totally support beekeeping for either environmental reasons or out of pure business interests and here is why:

There are 2 main pollinators in the wilderness, that would be the wind and the bees and some others, which are insignificant. Bees are responsible for over 80% of the pollination around the world! So by the desire for growth for honey and beeswax, there has also been a money growth in this sector. Following, that when there is more money in beekeeping, more people do it and when more people have bees, there are more pollinators for our flora. Don’t forget, mankind is doing enough bad things, which are already threatening our living on earth and if bees die out, this doomed cycle will just accelerate. If you do fancy another opinion, let me know in the comments and let’s have a discussion.

What do bees eat if we take their honey?

To start off, bees don’t eat only honey. Actually, all their foods contain honey, but within a mixture of various other products. If honey is not available for them, they eat nectar and pollen. Actually, nectar, as a row product is already a highly sugary beverage and it provides enough energy for the bees. Also as mentioned before, no beekeeper lets his bees starve and they have always enough honey left to live long and prosper.


Every bee has its own purpose in this big machine, called a beehive. And even by contributing such small amounts, it all sums up to one greater good. Honey has become a very well desired product by humans, but don’t let that mislead you to negative thoughts, on the contrary, when people focus their financial means on the sector of beekeeping then there can also be more hives, so more bees to pollinate our trees. And if you want to be even one step ahead of others, go find out who your local beekeepers are and buy honey directly from them. Like this, you don’t only contribute to bees, but also to your society. The more bees, the more prosperous our nature will be!


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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