Why Do Bees Make Honey?

Honey for Mead, bees on honey comb

Why do bees make honey?

Honey is used by bees as a food source, but honey bees are the only bees to naturally make an excess of honey.
 
Honey bees make an excess of honey because honey is stored in the hive to be used when forage is unavailable or the weather is poor meaning flight time for the bees to gather more honey and pollen is reduced.
 
Honey bees store an excess of honey through winter because unlike other bee species. In other species only the queen bee survives winter, whereas an entire colony of honey bees will live through winter forming a cluster to stay warm. This means energy is being used up to keep warm and there could be as many as 20,000 bees mouths to feed, thus a store of honey is vital.
 

Interested in Winter Bees? Please read more about winter bees on our what do bees eat blog

How much honey do bees eat?

Colony size of honey bees changes continuously though out the seasons, which directly
affects food demand. A Good size cluster of 20,000 bees going through winter will require
around 20kg of stored honey. Energy requirements are low through winter and directly
affected by climate.
 
As the weather warms up and more forage is available in spring, egg laying by the queen
bee is increased and continues to increase into summer. This results in a colony of 20,000
bees increasing in number to 60,000-80,000 bees. The food demand for a large colony could
be 12kg honey per 2 weeks but this is often offset by thousands of worker bees foraging
continuously on a bounty of flowers. Nevertheless, if the climate is below 14 degrees C or
rainy the bees will be confined to the hive thus making use of their stores.

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