How Long Does It Take For Bees To Make Honey?

One of these questions is worthwhile – How long does it take for bees to make honey? How much further? Are we there yet? When is dinner going to be ready? Where’s the other sock? What time does it start? Where are my keys? Where did I put that recipe? Why do I have to go to bed now?

We ask a lot of questions. We answer a lot of questions. Let’s ask a question we really want to know the answer to:

how long does it take for bees to make honey each day

How long does it take for bees to make honey?

The answer is not always as easy or as straightforward as you might think.  It’s like asking “How long is a piece of string?”

There are some important factors things that will affect your honey harvest, and the three most important are:

    • Hive maturity
    • Food source availability, and
    • Space available in your hive

Equally important, don’t harvest your honey until your hive has experienced its first winter. I know you want to, I wanted to as well, but remember we’re playing the long game here.

Why Does Hive Maturity Matter?

You’ve done your research. You’ve spoken to your local club. You’ve researched until your computer mouse is about to give up. You’ve got your hive in the correct place. Your queen and her disciples are doing their thing. You’ve got the tools. You are a beekeeper, and beekeepers harvest honey, but please wait until your hive has done its first winter.

Long game friends, play the long game. Whether you’re using a beeswax foundation in your frames or a plastic foundation, the message remains the same: wait. Your bees need to establish their wax foundation to draw out the comb. This is a labor intensive exercise. Your worker bees are working overtime. Raiding honey when your bees are still in the building stage is counterproductive and places unnecessary stress on your friends.

make your own apiary for bees

When your hive is mature – meaning all, or most, of your combs are waxed up, you will reap the rewards of your patience. Your bees, living in a mature hive, will spend their energy on nectar and pollen gathering. Ultimately, this means honey production.  Mature hives have a longer and stronger honey flow. So, in relation to hive maturity, how long does it take for bees to make honey? At least 12 months is your answer.

Food Source Availability For the Worker Bee

The relationship between nearby flowering plants and honey production should not be too difficult to grasp. If your worker bees have ready access to nectar and pollen, they’ll produce more honey. 

In an ideal world your hive would be surrounded by plants that possess the ability to produce nectar that is both high in sugar production and sugar concentration. Raspberry, borage, and black locust (false acacia) are plants that come to mind to fit this bill. Which flowers are the best for worker bees? Do some research of your own. 

“100 Plants to Feed The Beeds” by The Xerces Society is an excellent and invaluable resource, not just for beekeepers but everyone.  After all, every human should be making sure we not only feed bees but take very good care of them as well!!

100 Plants to Feed The Bees

Alternatively, grab some seeds and get planting. Your garden will look amazing and you’ll have happy bees. Your worker bees will be over the moon! Get something like this Home Grown Wildflower Seed Mix and you’re on your way.

Wildflower Annual Seed Mix

How And When To Make Space in Your Beehive

Making space for your bees is essential and helps answer the question of how long it takes for bees to make honey. If you’re kicking off your honey production journey you’ve probably started off with a single box – or brood chamber. As your colony evolves, they’ll turn their attention from successful reproduction to storing food. This is why further boxes – or supers as they’re known – are added.

Without adding supers your bees will begin to feel claustrophobic. Your queen and workers will begin hatching escape plans, namely swarming. You don’t want this. You’re playing with fire if you wait until all your frames in your brood box are full of comb. The risk of swarming is too high. As a mildly contentious rule of thumb, you should add your supers when you have 6 -7 frames of drawn comb.

That’s a wrap!

So, you can see the question of how long does it take for bees to make honey is definitely a case of “how long is a piece of string?”   So many variables exist.  You can speed up some parts of the honey production process., namely adding flowering plants and providing space for your bees.  Let your hive experience its first winter to ensure your hive matures.  This is not really a place to cut corners.


Happy beekeeping and may your honey flow be long and strong!