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By: Efraim Harari

In order to make honey, honeybees collect nectar (the sweet, sugary liquid produced by plants) from thousands of flowers. The process of converting flower nectar into honey requires a great deal of effort, communication, and teamwork.

First, worker bees fly out from the hive in search of nectar-rich flowers. Worker bees are the only bees that most people ever see. (The other bees, the drones and the queen bee, usually remain inside the hive.) There are tens of thousands of worker bees in a hive. When a worker bee finds a new crop of flowers filled with nectar, it flies back to the hive and does a special dance to tell the other bees about it. Not only does the dance tell the other bees what direction to fly in to find the flowers, it also tells them how far away the flowers are!

Once the worker bees locate the flowers, they use their long, straw-like tongue, called a proboscis, to drink the flowers’ liquid nectar. The bees store the liquid nectar in their extra stomach, called a crop or a honey stomach. The worker bees collect nectar from hundreds and hundreds of flowers, until their honey stomachs are full.

With full stomachs, the worker bees then return to the hive, where they pass the nectar they collected to other bees, by regurgitating the liquid into other bees’ mouths. This regurgitation process is repeated a few times, with several bees passing the same nectar around, until the partially digested nectar is finally deposited into a honeycomb (inside of the beehive is a honeycomb, made up of hundreds of six-sided cells).

Once the nectar is in the honeycomb, the bees beat their wings rapidly in order to fan it and evaporate its remaining water content. As the water evaporates, the sugars thicken into honey.

The final stage is when the bee seals the honeycomb with a secretion of liquid from its abdomen, which eventually hardens into beeswax. Away from air and water, honey can be stored indefinitely.

Honeybees reach into their stores of energy-rich honey to help them get through lean times, like during
the winter.

Busy As A Bee!

Each worker bee can make ten trips a day to flowers, and they can visit up to 1,000 flowers during each trip. It takes 65,000 trips to up to 65 million flowers in order for a bee to make 2.2 pounds of honey!


Why Is Bee Honey Kosher?

Strange as it may seem, bee honey is a kosher food. We say it may seem “strange,” because the general rule is that “what comes out of an unclean (tamei) thing is unclean.” In other words, according to halachah, if an animal is not kosher, then anything it produces is not kosher either. For this reason, milk from a horse or a camel is not kosher, because the horse and camel are non-kosher animals. Now, the bee is a non-kosher insect, yet its honey is kosher! How can that be?

The reason is due to the fact that a bee does not really produce honey from its body. It merely collects the nectar from blossoms and stores it in the honeycomb. The Creator has given the honeybee two stomachs. One is its “personal stomach,” where it digests its own food. The other is really just a sac for honey. It is a “honey stomach” where the bee collects the nectar it sips from the blossoms, in order to carry it off to the hive, where it will regurgitate (“throw up”) the nectar. Eventually it will deposit the nectar into the honeycomb, and that’s where the substance turns into real honey. This is why bee honey is kosher.


A honeybee colony can contain up to 60,000 bees!