From bee to beekeeper – how is honey made?

Step 1

Honeybees make honey from sweet flower nectar that they gather in their travels. They carry nectar in their crop, or “honey stomach,” an expandable, pouchlike organ separate from their regular stomach and bring back to their hive.

The nectar is transferred from the collector bee to the worker bees back at the hive that have been busy building honey storage cells. Younger bees produce wax which is molded into hexagonal-shaped cells strong enough to hold the honey – this is honeycomb.

Worker bees chew on the nectar to eliminate some of the liquid, essentially processing the sweet liquid into a thick syrup that they then deposit it into the cells of their hive. As the worker bees unload the nectar into the cells, they fan it with their wings to help evaporate moisture so it becomes even thicker, stickier, and more resistant to spoilage. The bees then seal the honeycomb cells with more wax to protect the honey during storage. (1,2,3)

Thank you to Flow Hive for the video

Step 2

Beekeepers use various methods to squeeze or otherwise extract honey from the honeycomb. Some methods drain the honey while preserving the wax comb so it can be used again, while others melt or otherwise manipulate the wax to remove and separate out the raw honey.

 

Step 3

Small-scale beekeepers usually stop here and sell honey in its raw state, but most mass producers of honey sold in supermarkets take the process a step further, buying up big batches of honey, and then diluting, heating, and filtering the raw product to remove pollen and other naturally occurring substances. In Australia, over 65% of honey is mass produced by Hive + Wellness Australia who own Capilano, Barnes Naturals and Wescobee. (4)

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