What do bees use honey for? This article is a look into the uses of honey.
Two questions, one answer – What do humans (mostly) use honey for, and, what do bees use honey for? The answer: food!! All species of bees that produce honey use it for food. Think of bees as that overly energetic friend we all have. You know the one, can’t sit still, always on the go, talks too much but is lovely and contributes positivity to those around them. Bees burn energy quickly. They need a regular intake of high energy food to keep the motor running.
Why Do Bees Eat Honey?
Now that you know what do bees use honey for, you might be asking, why do bees eat honey? Honey, as a food, has a few roles to play. Firstly, honey is needed to feed the male drones and female workers in the hive. Secondly, honey is stored by bees for the lean times. Finally, honey is crucial for bees to be able to produce beeswax.
Honey as bee food:
This is the answer to the question of what do bees use honey for. After an initial diet of royal jelly, all drone and worker larvae are fed honey to survive. Honey makes up their diet for their lifetime. The male drones are considerable consumers of honey. This is fine but they don’t do much else around the hive. Their role is pretty much to eat, mate and then die.
Honey as Winter bee food:
During Fall and Winter, there’s a significant drop in flowering plants. The nectar produced by these plants is what bees convert into honey. So, no nectar equals no food. If you knew all the grocery stores were going to close for 6 months, what would you do? You’d stockpile so you had enough to last.
What do bees use honey for? Honey stores are used to feed the colony over the winter!
Bees do the same thing with honey. The regular setup favored by beekeepers is to maintain the lower box – called a brood chamber or brood super and a second box as a food storage – called an upper deep. This storage of honey is used to feed the colony over the winter. Some extra feeding is sometimes required to help the colony survive.
Honey and beeswax production:
This doesn’t come to most people’s mind when trying to answer the question, “What do bees use honey for?” Honey is critical to the production of beeswax. Worker bees process the carbohydrates in honey to create wax. Beeswax is the ‘cement’ needed to create honeycomb. Comb is needed to raise pupa and larva, and for food storage. Beeswax is produced through glands located in the sternum of the bee.
What do Bees Eat When we Take Their Honey?
Keeping hives is not bad for bees. Harvesting excess honey is not bad for bees. Keeping hives is not bad for the pollination of plants. Quite the opposite is true. Beekeepers and bees have a symbiotic relationship. A comfortable, warm, clean, and pest free home is exchanged for surplus honey. Honey harvested by beekeepers is not stolen, it is an exchange of a service for a product. Flowering plants in the vicinity of the hive are pollinated and their reproduction is enhanced, surely a win – win situation.
Beekeepers are people passionate about bees. The welfare of their bees is of a greater concern than the production of copious amounts of honey. Beekeepers are concerned with terms like ‘surplus’ and ‘excess’ honey. Yes, we use bee smokers, protective suits, tools, and honey extractors to harvest the honey but these are either to protect the bees’ welfare or as time saving devices.
What do People use Honey For?
Honey, beyond being a sugar substitute, is used for a wide variety of applications.
Firstly, food!!!! Other than food, here’s the tip of the honey flavored iceberg:
- Wound and burn treatment
- Acid reflux relief
- Diarrhea respite
- Easing cold and cough symptoms
Honey has been used for thousands of years
Four to five thousand years of people using honey for its medicinal properties is hard to argue against. If honey didn’t work, humans wouldn’t continue to use it.
There are lots of honey advocates out there (me included!) who have found incredible uses for honey. But you don’t have to listen to me.
There are so many great, and popular, books available on the benefits of honey in your everyday life. Here’s a sample of the best books about honey and its uses in and out of the kitchen:
That’s A Wrap
What do bees use honey for? Mostly for bee food and the production of beeswax and propolis.
Just reflect the next time you’re drizzling honey over your cereal or toast. Think about the hardworking bees and beekeepers who bring this delectable treat to our plates.