How Do Bees Make Honey?


[MUSIC] The western, or European honeybee, pollinates
three-fourths of the fruits, veggies and nuts we eat. We’d be in trouble without ‘em.
Of course, there’s a reason we don’t call them zucchini bees, almond bees, or apple
bees. They also give us honey. [MUSIC] One healthy hive will make and consume more
than 50 kg of honey in a single year, and that takes a lot of work. Honey is made from nectar, but it doesn’t
come out of flowers as that golden, sticky stuff. After finding a suitable food source,
bees dive in head-first, using their long, specially-adapted tongues to slurp tiny sips
of nectar into one of two stomachs. A single bee might have to drink from more
than a thousand flowers to fill its honey stomach, which can weigh as much as the bee
itself when full of nectar. On the way back to the hive, digestive enzymes are already
working to turn that nectar into sweet gold. When she returns to the hive, the forager
bee will vomit the nectar into the mouth of another worker. That bee will vomit it into
another bee’s mouth, and so on. This game of regurgitation telephone is an
important part of the honey-making process, since each bee adds more digestive enzymes
to turn long chains of complex sugars in the raw nectar into simple monosaccharides like
fructose and glucose. At this point, the nectar is still pretty
watery, so the bees beat their wings and create an air current inside the hive to evaporate
and thicken the nectar, finally capping the cell with beeswax so the enzyme-rich bee-barf
can complete its transformation into honey. Because of its low water content and acidic
pH, honey isn’t a very inviting place for bacteria or yeast spoilage, and it has an
incredibly long shelf life in the hive or in your pantry. Honey has been found in Egyptian
tombs dating back thousands of years, pretty much unspoiled… although I wouldn’t personally
eat it, just in case. For one pound of honey, tens of thousands
of foraging bees will together fly more than three times around the world and visit up
to 8 million flowers. That takes teamwork and organization, and although they can’t
talk they do communicate… with body language. Foragers dance to tell other bees where to
find food. A circle dance means flowers are pretty close to the hive, but for food that’s
farther away, they get their waggle on. The waggle dance of the honey bee was first
decoded by Karl von Frisch, and it’s definitely one of the coolest examples of animal communication
in nature. First the bee walks in a straight line, waggling
its body back and forth and vibrating its wings, before repeating in a figure eight.
Whatever angle the bee walks while waggling tells the other bees what direction to go.
Straight up the line of honeycombs, then the food is in the direction of the sun. If the
dance is pointed to the left or right, the other bees know to fly in that angle relative
to the sun. The longer the waggle, the farther away the
food is, and the better the food, the more excited the bee shakes its body. If that’s not amazing enough, even if they
can’t see the sun itself, they can infer where it is and the time of day by reading
the polarization of light in the blue sky. A single bee is a pretty simple creature,
but together they create highly complex and social societies.
There’s three main classes in a beehive: Drones, workers, and queens. When a new queen is born, she immediately
runs around and kills her sisters, because there can be only one.
During mating season, she’ll fly to a distant hive to mate with several males and store
away the sperm, which she’ll use back at her home hive to lay more than a thousand
eggs a day throughout the rest of her life. Any unfertilized eggs, those that don’t
join up with sperm, will mature into male drones, which means they only have one set
of chromosomes. But fertilized eggs are all genetically female,
destined to become either queens or workers. Queens do the egg-laying of course, but worker
bees are the backbone of the beehive. So what makes most females become workers,
while just one wears the hive crown? A baby bee’s diet activates genetic programming
that shifts its entire destiny. Every bee larva is initially fed a nutrient-rich
food called royal jelly, but after a few days, worker bee babies are switched to a mixture
of pollen and honey called “bee bread”. But queens eat royal jelly their whole life,
even as adults. Scientists used to think it was just royal
jelly that put queens on the throne, but just last year they discovered one chemical in
bee bread, the food that queens don’t get, that keeps worker bees sterile. Being a queen
seems to be as much about what bees don’t eat as what they do. Making honey is insect farming on its grandest
scale, with intricate societies cooperating to make a food fit for bear tummies big and
small… with the pleasant side effect of pollinating most of the world’s flowering plants. I’d say
it’s a pretty sweet deal. Stay curious.

100 thoughts on “How Do Bees Make Honey?

  1. But honey bees are an invasive species. And they're not the only type of bee.

  2. If we all got along so well, by each one keeping head down and getting the work done, we could build some sweet things too

  3. They do that much hard work, roaming millions of km and we just break their hive n take all of there hard work in minutes…
    I will not take honey anymore….

  4. Can you make a video on why people say that you should not cook honey

  5. I like movies and learning, not too much for politics especially now.

  6. So wait… if I'm buying honey, then am I supporting slave labor so that I can later consume some other material that a lot of other insects have consumed and vomited through each other? Because I thought I was just buying honey…

    JK about the slave labor stuff. I've seen bee keeper videos and they seem to love bees as much as normal people love dogs. But the fact that honey has been basically vomited countless times, passed through insects which have been flying who knows where, and is still safe to consume is quite strange. Nature be crazy.

  7. ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿbzzz๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿbzzz๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿbzz๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿbzz๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿฆ˜
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  8. Massive fail and you know why. If you are really too stupid then I gotta I'll have to tell you! Keep honey bees out of any land they don't belong in! Especially North America and Scotland. Or lose your last food source

  9. Wow, I thought it was vomit but not vomited from bee to bee to bee.

  10. I will never eat honey again
    5 seconds later mom comes in room with honey and toast

  11. Next time, when you consume honey, just remember, it was from a bee's stomach, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, regurgitated from a bee, and , regurgitated from a bee

  12. I wonder how long it took to find bee vomit is the best of all the vomits of the animal world…

  13. yeah the honey bees also kill off almost any insect that go near them yay extinction wooooooooo!!!!! goodbye the other 19999 bees species woooo isnt mass extinction great?

  14. Itโ€™s amazing that without bees we could not survive and bottled clear honey that you buy from the store is not real honey. My grandpa has a friend who owns bee hives and itโ€™s opaque

  15. ok…. ruined honey for me for the rest of my life – not sure that it IS ok to be smart – I was happier being dumb.

  16. Who else likes to eat these Hexagon things in the honey instead of just the pure honey? ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. Vikings also consumed a lot of mead throughout their time, even the kids drank it. Some mean it gave that a very good antibiotic system

  18. Queens do not fly to other hives to mate. They fly up to 5km for one or multiple days at special land points. At those points also drones will be, if hatched by surrounding hives.

  19. Gotta say on the list of impressive things. All bees in the world flying the equal to 3 times around the world, doesn't actually sound that impressive.

  20. I would like to know the backstory of who discovered honey. One person just looked at a beehive and thought "Those buzzing creatures are up to something. I have a feeling they're hiding something delicious in there".

  21. Hmmm I wonder what we could make if we perform the same technique but with other foods… like say jello or steak? Anyone wanna try with me?

  22. hate to say it but you were wrong. Queen Honey Bees dont go to other hives to mate, they go to swarms that form in the air

  23. But why do they store the final product and seal it? Do they produce a lot of surplus of honey so they can share it with us?

  24. 0.75 is the correct playback speed to give yourself a chance to comprehend the information

  25. For any vegans/people who donโ€™t want to eat honey anymore, Imitation honey tastes the same โค๏ธ

  26. Queens do not fly to another hive and mate, they go on a mating flight and all drones in the area chase her like a comet until one mates with her in the air. His package breaks off inside her and he dies, the father of the next generation.

  27. This is truly fascinating. The bee dance to notify the food location is what amazes me the most

  28. Weโ€™ve put all the honey in the same basket. We need to rely more than one species as pollinators.

  29. [Quran 16.68-69] And your Lord (Allah) revealed to the bees: Build your hives in mountains, trees and in what they build. Then eat (for females) from every fruit and follow (for females) your Lord's enslaved paths, from its bellies (ุจูุทููˆู†ูู‡ูŽุง) exits drink of different colors, in it healing for man. These are signs for those who contemplate.

  30. When people are told that bird nest soup come from bird's vomit, they suddenly feel disgusted. But what if I tell you that honey is also vomit.

  31. So everyoneโ€™s ok eating a creatures spit-vomit, that it also mates in and uses the restroom in? Sounds to me like the devil sinned against nature, and you all enjoy the taste!

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