Honey is our World: The Story of Honey

The story of honey begins with flowers. Flowers create a wonderfully sticky sweet substance called nectar. The main purpose for doing this is to attract bees to the flower. Many flowers rely on bees to help them to pollinate. Bees love nectar and in their search for this golden treat, they collect pollen on their fur and legs. The pollen is transferred from flower to flower, pollinating flowers.

*bees see in ultra violet and are most attracted to blue and purple flowers

Bees take the nectar they’ve collected back to the hive and deposit it in cells or honeycomb. Worker bees convert the nectar to honey. 

The hive is organised in meticulous order. Each bee has its role. It is the colony of bees in the hive who decide on their queen. The queen rules the colony and as long as she reigns she will be the only bee to lay eggs. The remaining bees are separated into drones and worker bees. The drones are male and their main function is in mating with the queen bee. The worker bees are all female. They have numerous roles including responsibility for the security and cleaning of the hive. Their other roles include the collection of nectar, the conversion of nectar to honey, the building of honeycomb inside the hive and the repair and maintenance of their hive. Each hive may contain as many as 60,000 bees. 

More than 25,000 species of bees have been identified around the world. Bees known as honey bees are represented by eight to ten species in the genus Apis. The honeybee most commonly found in Ireland is the Dark European Honeybee (Apis Mellifera). 

A honeybee’s tongue or proboscis is a straw like structure and is used to suck up nectar. Worker bees need to visit 2 million flowers to collect enough nectar to make 1 pound of honey. When the worker bee arrives back in the hive, she deposits the nectar in a cell of honeycomb. Other worker bees in the hive convert the nectar to honey with the use of special enzymes and then cap the cell of honeycomb with a thin layer of wax to protect the honey.

Modern man made hives contain a number of frames. Honeybees make beeswax and they use that beeswax to build honeycomb inside these frames, once the honeycomb is filled with honey, the beekeeper takes out the frame.

Honey is extracted from the frame by centrifugal force. Once the honey has been extracted; it is filtered to remove any debris and then packed into jars at the Boyne Valley Honey Company.