How do bees make honey?

How do bees make honey?

How do the bees turn nectar into honey?

Honey has some amazing health and keeping qualities that have been specifically created by the bees. So how do they do it?

In a nutshell (well, in a honey comb), they collect nectar, add enzymes which change it chemically, and remove excess water, then store it in honey comb. That sounds easy, right?

Let's look at the steps that happen on the way to the finished product:

Washboarding bees

What does it mean when bees rock back and forth at the front of the hive?

One of our hives has had a lot of bees washboarding on the front. All the other hives don't display this behaviour, just this one. And nobody has quite figured out why bees do this.

It just shows you that nature still has it all over us mere humans. Rather beautiful though, don't you think?

(The noise in the background is the ute running, not bees humming. Drat!)

Native NZ Bees

Just outside the bedroom window is this Lophomyrtus tree, a NZ native. And a couple of mornings ago it was completely covered with bees. But all the bees were little black native NZ bees. Even though this tree is very close to a whole bunch of hives with regular honey bees, none of them were interested in the flowers, only the little natives were sipping away. But by the afternoon they had all gone, maybe for a bit of a postprandial lie down? Maybe.... because native bees don't live in hives, they only need to collect enough to eat for the day?


And for some lovely photos and more information see the

Terrain site

A Cure for Bee Stings

If you ask our bee keepers Will and David, they will say getting stung is a normal part of being a bee keeper, and to just get on with it. But I haven't been stung yet and don't feel the urge to man up either. So I've been researching remedies just in case. And here is my best pick of them:

1. Scrap out the bee sting, don't squeeze it though.

2. Baking soda mixed to a paste with water, then spread on the bite. Something about neutralising the sting. And if it is a wasp you are stung by, then vinegar. Might need to research and do another post on how to tell the difference between a bee and a wasp of course - details details!

3. Ice. Works for everything.

4. Toothpaste, spread on the bite. Similar to baking soda I think.

5. Antihistamine. A cream would work well I think. And if you are mildly allergic I guess an antihistamine pill.

But: of course, if you are extremely allergic, or swell up alarmingly, or stop breathing, then don't do these remedies, call the ambulance.

And for the official advice, always a good idea, visit the Ministry of Health page