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What bees eat: nectar and pollen represent the fresh food that bees collect from flowers. Bees, however, also feed on honey, a substance processed inside the hive.
It is not easy to explainwhat bees eatwithout going into specifics: life in the hive is complex. Bees collect pollen, nectar and propolis to transform these raw materials into wax, honey and finally royal jelly. Let's see in detail what bees eat and what life is like in the hive.
In the articlehow honey is made We have explained to you that foraging bees, thanks to a specific apparatus and special bags, are able to collect good quantities of nectar and pollen. These substances, once in the hive, are transformed into honey by enzymes that the bees themselves produce. The honey, after production, is deposited in the cells of the honeycombs. The bees, in a timely and diligent way, hermetically close each cell using a veil of wax.
Each hive contains from 30,000 to 80,000 bees. Most of these are worker bees. Worker bees are female bees, slightly smaller than the queen bee.
What bees eat
Bees have very active eyesight: to collect pollen and nectar they need a lot of energy. The nectar is harvested by many plants. Thehoneyproduced bybeesit is partly used as food (therefore produced for the purpose of nourishment by the bees themselves) and partly transformed into beeswax to build the hexagonal cells (the classic honeycomb texture).
Thebeesthey are mainly active between spring and summer. It is in this period that they concentrate their energies for the collection ofpollen, nectarand propolis. While propolis is used to reinforce the headlights (it has a structural function), pollen and nectar act both as fresh food and as raw material for the production of honey. Honey, when winter arrives, will be the only food source for bees.
As stated, every bee needs a lot of energy. No wonder the composition of the variousnectarssees, mainly, substances such as sucrose, glucose, fructose and other carbohydrates. The nectar is also rich in water. For the production of honey, the water present in the nectar (and also in the pollen) is evaporated with careful ventilation also linked to the movement of the bees' wings.
By feeding and collecting pollen, bees move from flower to flower and also perform an important pollination function. For this reason, hymenoptera and in particular bees are considered important pollinating insects (also known as pollinating insects).
Royal jelly and queen bee
We told you that bees feed on two "fresh" foods such as pollen and nectar and that, at the same time, they produce honey for the production of wax and for the winter feeding of the hive itself. But what is royal jelly? You've certainly heard of it. In an article dedicated to explainingwhat bees eatwe could not omit the nameRoyal jelly.
Bees, before undergoing metamorphosis and assuming the form we all know, are larvae. The larvae begin to feed on nectar and honey from the third day. The nameRoyal jellyderives from the fact that the bee larvae they feed onRoyal jelly. Not all bee larvae, however, feed on royal jelly. Only the larvae destined to become Queensthey will be able to feed on royal jelly. This is why royal jelly is considered a noble food.
In the hive, royal jelly is one of the finest products. Bees make royal jelly by mixing honey, pollen and some salivary enzymes. A hive, if well maintained, can produce up to 500 grams during the six months of the warm seasons. Yes, a beehive that, as we have told you, is made up of up to 80,000 individuals, can produce about 83 grams of royal jelly per month.
Other animals that feed on honey
Hymenoptera are the only animals to produce honey, however they are not the only ones to feed on it. Man too feeds on honey and like him other animals have learned to enter the hive forto stealhoney.
Who eats honey? Wasps, mellifera (a particular species of badger) and bears.