Bees need two different kinds of food. One is honey made from nectar, the sugary juice that collects in the heart of the flowers. The other comes from the anthers of flowers, which contain numerous small grains called pollen. Most bees gather only pollen or nectar. As she sucks the nectar from the flower, it is stored in her special honey stomach ready to be transferred to the honey-making bees in the hive. If hungry, she opens a valve in the nectar “sac” and a portion passes through to her own stomach.
When nectar “sacs” are full, the honeybee returns to the hive. Nectar is delivered to one of the indoor bees and is passed from bee to bee until its moisture content is reduced from about 70% to 20%. This changes the nectar into honey, which is placed in storage cells and capped with beeswax in readiness for the arrival of newborn baby bees. Pollen is mixed with nectar to make “bee bread” and is fed to the larvae. It takes 300 bees about three weeks to gather 450 g of honey. On average, a hive contains 40,000 bees.