Bees are one of the most organized animals. And making honey is not simple, so bees organize themselves in the best way to make nature's gold. Each bee has a role in its colony, in the bee society.
Let's discover together how they make honey.
The process of making honey describes the work of foragers, while the second part describes the work of beekeepers. Honey from France is made in the way described in this article, but can be extracted differently depending on the means of the beekeeper and the region of the world.
First step: The production of honey by bees
The bee & the nectar
Concentrate, I'll explain in detail how bees make honey. The basic substance needed to make honey is nectar. So the bees have to get it. It is found on flowers, they produce it to attract bees.
The flowers need the bees to reproduce. Bees carry pollen from flowers in bloom on their legs. This ingredient is a necessary part of flower reproduction.
Thus, bees navigate from flower to flower, collecting their nectar and carrying the pollen. It's a win-win situation, with this mode of operation the flower can reproduce and the bee begins the honey-making process. Nature is made in this way, each element that composes it has an important role in the general eco-system of nature.
Back to the hive & honey design
I didn't tell you this before, but there is still pollen left on the bee's legs once it is back home. Back at the hive, his fellow bees will be able to feed on this food to continue working.
The bee travels up to 3 km around the hive to find its nectar. She makes the round trip back and forth a lot. Each time she returns to the hive, she will make a small amount of honey.
To make the honey, the bees will exchange the nectar from mouth to mouth. This phenomenon is called trophallaxis. The saliva of the bees and their speed of execution gives the almost final substance of the honey.
End of the manufacturing process
Once the bees have finished exchanging the honey from mouth to mouth, there is one last step to get the final version of the honey. For this, it requires a rest period. The bees therefore deposit the substance in the cells of the hive and close them. In this way, the future honey can dry out and go to what is closer to what we know about honey.
You can imagine that this is not the end, the honey is stuck in these cells. The bees will be able to enjoy it that way. But if we want to benefit from the magnificent work of the bees, we will have to extract the honey from the hive.
Second step: Honey collection by the beekeeper
Get close to the hive?
At first, it will be necessary to approach the hive in order to hope to extract the honey from it. It is important to know that bees become nervous when someone approaches their hive, as we have unfortunately seen many times with incidents in this area. They defend themselves against people who might attack the queen or their hive.
But bees don't care about humans, they only care about flowers. For the beekeeper, it is advisable to dress in a clear suit. It is the colour that least arouses suspicion among our foraging friends, hence the white colour of the beekeeper's overalls.
Extracting honey from the hive
Following this, the beekeeper will have to choose his method of extracting the honey-containing elements from the hive. There are a multitude of techniques for harvesting honey, each with their advantages and disadvantages. There are the blower method, the repellent method (very harmful), the bee-killer method and the frame-by-frame method.
The frame-to-frame technique is the best known and most widely used. The beekeeper perfumes the bees so that the frames can be removed from the hive. The smoke on the bees plays an important role. It is not dangerous for the bees, but it calms them so that they do not attack the beekeeper even if he is protected.
Indeed, when the bee feels danger, it emits a kind of "smell" called "pheromones". There are different smells, the smell of danger alerts other bees to a threat. Each bee transmits a smell in turn and thus starts to attack and defend the hive. The smoke finally serves to conceal this smell and thus prevent the transmission of the signal.
Removing honey from frames & potting
Earlier I mentioned the fact that bees store honey in the cells and close them. This way the honey can dry out. So the beekeeper will have to remove these kinds of "plugs" from the honey.
He's going to take a knife-like instrument and shave the surface of the frame to remove all the plugs. Then the frames are put into an extractor to collect all the honey. This is faster and more efficient than doing everything by hand.
The last step before the honey can be put into jars, the decanting. It consists of filtering the honey from impurities so that it can be fully enjoyed. This step allows us to make the honey edible by removing all the residues that would make us reluctant to buy any honey.
And finally, the last part of the beekeeper's work before the sale is the potting. The honey is left to rest for about 15 days before that. After that, the honey is either sold wholesale or put into a jar for retail sale. The rules for potting are strict for quality honey: airtight pots, dry storage, away from moisture and sunlight.
The storage of honey is also an integral part of the beekeeper's work. If it is neglected, the honey would be unfit for consumption.
Now you know all about how bees make honey. From the moment they collect the nectar from the flowers to the time it is marketed, honey holds no secrets for you!
Visit beelixir.fr to see our collection of rare honey