Do bees eat honey?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Do bees eat honey?” We will also discuss whether queen bees eat honey, the reason why the bees eat honey, and whether it is okay to take the honey away from the bees.

Do bees eat honey?

Ye, bees eat small amounts of their honey mostly to fuel drones, refuel worker bees, and for winter stores. They basically use it as a source of energy as honey is high in all the nutrients essential to stay healthy.

Bees produce honey from honeydew which is also known as plant nectar. These plant nectars are the secretion of insects that have consumed nectar. Bees are responsible for converting these sweet nectars into carbs. These floral grains also contain a variety of nutrients, including protein, which are nutritionally important for bees.

Pollen contains the other nutrients that bees require. The salivary glands of bees secrete an enzyme that reacts with the nectar. Then the bees exchange this nectar with other bees in the colony, resulting in honey, a sticky fluid. They eat and feed their offspring in this manner.

Do queen bees eat honey?

No, the queen bee does not eat honey. Although the honey is consumed by all worker bees, the Queen Bee’s diet consists of ‘royal jelly’. It is not the usual honey that is consumed by the worker bees. 

The royal jelly is a nutritious fluid secreted by worker bees. Bees in their early stage sometimes known as larvae will feed on royal jelly throughout their first few days of development. 

On the other hand, the larvae selected to become the Queen Bee will feed on royal jelly throughout their development. This allows the Queen to develop, breed, and become strong enough to sustain the beehive.

Why do the bees eat honey?

The bees eat honey for mainly three reasons: to fuel drones, to refuel worker bees, and to winter stores. Let us discuss them in detail.

Fueling drones

Drones are male honeybees whose only purpose is to mate with an unfertilized queen. Drones, unlike female worker bees, are without stingers. They do not collect nectar or pollen and are unable to feed without the assistance of worker bees. 

These drones are only generated periodically and are born to replenish the hive’s population. They mate, reproduce the species, and then perish. Drones, unlike colony worker bees, do not conduct hard labor and instead reside within the beehive, devouring honey stores and relaxing. 

Refueling workers 

The majority of the working honeybee’s life is spent searching for food. They expend energy by transporting honey and pollen back to the beehive. These honeybees mostly consume honey as a source of energy after leaving the colony.

Honey bees can fly at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. It takes numerous trips for gathering the nectar back and forth between flower fields and the hive, so a worker only produces approximately a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey throughout its lifespan. So, honey provides a lot of energy to these working bees allowing them to carry out their functions effectively.

Winter stores 

The main reason why bees feed on honey is to store them for the days to come. Workers prepare and store a large quantity of honey for the harsh winter months when there aren’t as many blooms to feed on. 

During the winters, this is their only alternate food source which is stored in the form of honey. This ensures the hive’s survival during the harsh winter months. Bacteria cannot multiply in the honeycomb because the sugar level is too high, providing the bees with a secure food supply with no expiration date.

Is it okay to take the honey away from the bees?

Yes, it is okay to take the honey away from the bees, but the beekeeper should make sure that the colony has enough honey for their consumption. Usually, the farmers will remove a greater portion of honey and replace it with sugar for the bees to eat on a commercial scale. Harvesting honey is an important part of the commercial honey industry but the health of the honey bees should not be compromised during this process.

You can learn more about the process of extracting honey from honeycombs here.

Conclusion 

In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “Do bees eat honey?” We have also discussed whether queen bees eat honey, the reason why the bees eat honey, and whether it is okay to take the honey away from the bees.

Citations 

https://www.scottishbeecompany.co.uk/blogs/news/do-bees-eat-honey#:~:text=The%20working%20honeybee%20spends%20the,expeditions%20out%20of%20the%20hive.

https://www.buzzaboutbees.net/Do-Bees-Eat-Honey.html

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