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  • Writer's picturethebeechick

Nectar and Honey

‘Honey’ is nectar from plants. Thats it. nothing added. Nothing removed.

The bees convert nectar into a sustainable, storable food source (honey) by using a process called trophallaxis (which I will explain later..)

Nectar is the main source of carbohydrates used in the honey bees diet - they feed nectar and honey mixed with pollen to their young larvae and the male drones. If they want to store the nectar for winter - they process it into honey to make it a stable product.

When the nectar is collected from flowers and trees, it is very liquid with a high moisture content, So they need to get the moisture content down in order to store it otherwise it would ferment and go bad. To do this they regurgitate the nectar into a cell in its watery form, and then dislocate their wings and vibrate / 'fan' away until the moisture content is down to 18% moisture. Once the moisture content is down to 18%, it is then classified as 'honey', a beautiful stable product - ready to be stored.

Honey cannot go 'off' if you add nothing to it -They even found pots of honey in Tutankhamun's tomb! It can sometimes crystalize and people mistake this for it 'going bad', but all you need to do is put it somewhere warm, and it will go back to its runny form again.


Trophallaxis is the mutual exchange of regurgitated liquids between adult honey bees or between them and the larvae. Trophallaxis occurs under a few circumstances within the bee hive. One reason is when a female worker has gone to find a nectar source, she will find

some fill up her honey stomach with the nectar, then fly back to the colony. Once she is back in the colony she will give a “taster” of the nectar to the other foragers, so they can know

what it is they are searching for. During this trophallaxis process, she will also do a “waggle dance” which is a vibration the honey bee does to indicate the direction and distance of where to go to find this nectar source. Trophallaxis also happens when the nurse bees are feeding the larvae a mixture of pollen and nectar.

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