Think of someone who preserves their own food. Why they might go through all that trouble? They might tell you it is because they want to feed their families healthy homegrown food throughout the cold winter months, or because they want to be prepared with plenty of food in case their circumstances change.
Bees make and store honey for the same reasons. They need honey to feed their young. Honey helps them survive the cold winter months when they can’t get out and find flowers to make their food - and they need to visit lots of flowers. Honey's taste, smell and texture depend on the type of flower that each bee visits.
How do bees make honey? First, they collect a sugary juice called nectar from the blossom by sucking it out with their tongues. It is then stored in their honey stomach, which is different from their food stomach. When they have a full load, they fly back to the hive. From there, it is passed on through their mouths to other worker bees who chew it for about half an hour. It's given from bee to bee, until it gradually turns into honey. Bees store it in honeycomb cells, which are like tiny mason jars made of wax. The honey is still a bit wet, so they fan it with their wings to make it dry out and become more sticky. When it's ready, the bees seal the cell with a wax lid to keep it clean.
In this picture, you can see honey cells being filled up, capped honeycomb and even some baby bee nurseries on the left bottom corner. These are called broods.
Making honey's hard work! They don't make very much of it because it takes at least eight bees all their life to make one single teaspoonful. Fortunately for us, they usually make more than they need, so we can have some too!
"Busy as a bee" is a term we hear often - and should be taken literally! Honeybees beat their tiny wings 10,000 times a minute, so they need a ton of energy to do that all day long. Honey provides energy for bees through its complex vitamins and sugars. Storing their own honey helps guarantee that they have what they need when they need it. Bees are great preppers, like our chefs at Red Rabbit.
Red Rabbit uses locally sourced honey as a natural sweetener in several of our delicious recipes including our biscuits and muffins, salad dressings, yogurt parfaits and our signature honey mustard sauce.
Here are some naturally sweet, honey based recipes for you to try at home with your family.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
½ Cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ Tablespoons prepared mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
Creamy Honey Dressing
⅓ Cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise (organic)
1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 Teaspoon honey