Tag Archives: bees

Are You Eating Honey From a Bee’s Stomach?

Yes, you are.

Forager bees return to the hive after finding nectar, where they regurgitate and transfer nectar to the hive bees. Forager bees give the nectar to Hive Bees. The hive bees then use their honey stomachs to ingest and regurgitate the nectar, forming bubbles between their mandibles repeatedly until it is partially digested. The bubbles create a large surface area per volume and a portion of the water is removed through evaporation. The bee’s digestive enzymes convert sucrose to a mixture of glucose and fructose and break down other starches and proteins, increasing the acidity.

The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation and digestion for as long as 20 minutes, passing the nectar from one bee to the next, until the product reaches the honeycombs in storage quality. It is then placed in honeycomb cells and left unsealed while still high in water content (about 50 to 70%) and natural yeasts which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the newly formed honey to ferment. Bees are among the few insects that can generate large amounts of body heat, and the hive bees constantly regulate the hive temperature, either heating with their bodies or cooling with water evaporation, to maintain a fairly constant temperature of about 35 °C (95 °F) in the honey-storage areas. 

The process continues as hive bees flutter their wings constantly to circulate air and evaporate water from the honey to a content around 18%, raising the sugar concentration beyond the saturation point and preventing fermentation. The bees then cap the cells with wax to seal them. As removed from the hive a beekeeper, honey has a long shelf life and will not ferment if properly sealed.

Thanks to Wikipedia for information