noun (plural honeys)
1 [mass noun] a sweet, sticky yellowish-brown fluid made by bees and other insects from nectar collected from flowers.
What is Honey ?
Honey is a sugar based food, made by honey bees through a process of concentrating nectar. Although some other insects and species of bee do make honey, the honey bee is the only one to produce quantities in a palatable form to be suitable for human consumption.
How is Honey Made ?
A honey bee colony contains tens of thousands of individuals, of which the older bees are called foragers. These bees leave the hive to collect nectar (they also collect water and pollen, but only nectar is used for making honey), the nectar is carried back to the hive in a bees honey stomach where the sugars are broken down to their constituent components, fructose and glucose. Once back in the hive the bee regurgitates the liquid and passes it to younger “house bees” for further processing, when ready it is placed in the honeycomb, however the process is still not complete as the fluid still contains too higher water level, so could begin to ferment. Once in the honeycombs the bees further evaporate the water out creating honey as we know it, it is then capped (the cell is covered over by a thin layer of wax to seal it) and ready for consumption.
Why do Honeybees Make Honey ?
Honey is a food source for honey bees, it is the carbohydrate which is eaten by adult bees to give them energy to forage, raise young and keep the hive clean. The pollen which is also collected and can be seen on their back legs in “pollen baskets” as they return to the hive is their protein source, this is used for feeding the larvae before they become an adult bee.
Because the honey bee does not hibernate it needs a food source for the winter months, because the weather is so cold, there are no flowers for them to collect pollen and nectar from, therefore they have evolved to not fly in cold weather. This means they need a source of food which they can store, this is why they make honey and store pollen. A beekeeper keeps their stock healthy and provides they space they need to create more than the bees need themselves, this is how we are able to take some of their honey away before winter sets in.
If you are a UK bee-keeper who would like to sell your honey, or someone looking for a local source for honey, check out the Local Honey Directory, we have listings of beekeepers organised by county. Or if you are looking to sell your honey, why not add your details for free.