Animals

How Bees Make Honey

by Marcia Malory

Bees convert nectar - a thin, sugary liquid made by flowers - into honey.

When a bee lands on a flower, it begins sipping nectar from the flower.

It sips with its long tongue, which is covered with hairs.

A small object known as the spoon, which lies at the very tip of the bee's tongue, is also covered with hairs.

Honeybee, photo by Muhammad Mahdi KarimWhen it is deep inside a flower, the bee sweeps its tongue from side to side. Any small drops on the side of the flower fall onto the hairs.

Worker bees gather nectar while queens and drones do not. Therefore, the worker bee's tongue is longer than the queen's or the drone's.

Once the bee has finished sipping the nectar, it passes it to a honey sack that is located in its abdomen.

As the nectar sits in the honey sack, glands in the bee secrete chemicals into this sack.

These chemicals react with the nectar, turning it into honey.

The honey sack, which is sometimes called the bee's second stomach, is connected to the bee's true stomach by a small tube. The tube has a valve, which the bee can open and close. When the bee opens the valve honey passes into its true stomach and is used as food

As the honey sits in the honey sack, glands also secrete certain chemicals into the sack. These chemicals transform the nectar into honey.