How long does it take bees to make honey

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Written By Joanna Bailey

Joanna Bailey is a beekeeping consultant based in Florida, dedicated to promoting sustainable beekeeping practices and educating others on the importance of bees in our ecosystem. With years of experience in the field, she is a trusted advisor to beekeepers of all levels.

Being a rookie beekeeper, your first harvest of honey is almost inevitable. Nonetheless, it is probably best to keep your expectations in check while you are enthusiastic about a new colony’s potential productivity.

To create honey, a new beehive will need at least four months. It is possible for a new colony to produce too much honey in four months, although you may not be able to harvest it. With a new colony, you’re unlikely to get any honey until the second season, if at all.

Harvesting your first honey harvest is a nerve-wracking yet triumphant moment. Let us explore the many factors and know in detail how long it takes bees to make honey!

Process of Honey Making by Bees

The beekeeping process is quite complicated, with steps such as collecting nectar, transporting it, processing it into honey, drying the honey, and ultimately storing it.

Step 1: Nectar collection

The bees that search for food sources for the hive are the ones who start honey production. These are female workers bees in the fields or foraging. The queen bee, who is responsible for laying eggs, does not forage for the hive and neither do the drone and male bees in the hive.

Since the foraging bees will only leave the hive in warmer temperatures, their activity rises in intensity as spring progresses and peaks throughout the summer months, depending on food supplies.

A field bee draws up nectar with her proboscis (tubular mouth) when she finds blossoms of plants and trees that are secreting nectar. She then puts the nectar in their proventriculus, which is a honey stomach or crop.

Their stomach for digesting their own food is extremely different from this honey stomach. The bee adds enzymes and proteins to its mouth from special glands while collecting nectar and depositing it in its honey stomach. This enzyme addition starts the process of turning nectar into honey.

Honey stomachs are about 40 milligrams in weight, roughly half of a bee’s weight. She’ll return to the hive to drop off the cargo before beginning anew after completing her 100 or more flower excursions to fuel her honey belly.

Step 2: Transforming honey from nectar

The honey-making process begins when the field bees return to the hive and deliver the nectar to their house bee counterparts, known as house bees. The nectar is chewed for up to half an hour by these house bees, with bubbles between their mandibles (stretched jaws) evaporating moisture from the nectar.

More enzymes are introduced as the nectar is devoured and then regurgitated, breaking down the sugars and proteins in the nectar, resulting in it becoming more acidic and finally transforming into a liquid ‘honey.’

The honey is now roughly 70% water, which would rot if it was stored for the hive’s food supplies.

Step 3: Drying honey

When the honey is scattered out over the wax comb in the hive that the bees have built for this purpose, it loses some moisture, which contributes to its dehydration.

The greater surface area created in this manner, especially when the hive is kept at a rather warm temperature of 35°C or 95°F by the bees, allows for quicker water evaporation. House bees also fan their wings increasing the hive’s ventilation, which boosts water evaporative from the honey at this moment.

The honey’s water content is reduced to roughly 17-20% before the process is complete. This is no small task, and we’ll never know how the bees know when to quit drying up the honey!

Step 4: Honey Storage

When the bees are ready to utilize the honey, they take it and store it in honeycomb cells. Honey that has been ‘moisturized’ is preserved. Beeswax is used to seal or cap each cell containing mature ‘dry’ honey.

Since the honey is kept clean and safe from the thousands of bees that swarm across the face of a honeycomb each day, the capping procedure is a crucial part of its storage.

The cell is also tightly capped, preventing any moisture from entering the hive and causing it to ferment.

How long does it take for a new beehive to produce honey?

The establishment of a bee colony is the first year’s focus. The success also depends upon how you do beekeeping and plan and prepare for your new hive.

During your first season of beekeeping, it is unlikely that you will harvest any honey. Yet, while some beginning beekeepers may get honey in their first season if they have ideal surroundings and a little luck, this is uncommon. It will take around 4 months for a new beehive to produce honey, but it will not be sufficient to harvest.

To extract the wax and build a comb, a new colony needs a lot of energy and food. The queen needs the Comb to deposit fresh eggs, pollen, and nectar in order to lay new eggs. The sooner your colony can establish itself, the sooner honey may be produced.

To Build a New Beehive, How Much Time is Required?

It takes at least 3 to 5 months for a new bee colony to reach full strength and maturity. A new colony will need one season to establish itself. Beekeeping implies a slew of variables to consider.

Those factors could be weather, treatment for mites, local bee colonies, forage bee availability, supplemental feeding, local climate, types of bee frames, bee population, size of the bee box, the strength of the queen bee, and so on.

How Much Time is Needed by Bees to Make Honeycomb?

Bees will typically take between 7 and 2 months to make a comb and fill it with honey on average. Yet, due to the honey’s rapid settling time, a well-established colony may extract and fill a full 10-frame deep box with honey in as little as 3 days. It may happen in as little as 24 hours.

The dimensions of the honeycomb, the number of bees in the colony, and the amount of nectar brought in all influence how long it takes to develop a comb. The presence of starter frames and the status of the colony are additional factors to consider. New colonies will also grow stronger if you provide them with more food.

To create combs and fill them quickly, bees need a lot of nectar. To build one comb weighing one pound, bees need around 40 pounds of nectar. Before they even start to fill the chambers with honey or nectar. The wax is the basis for a honeycomb since bees consume approximately 6-8 pounds of honey to generate 1 pound of wax. They also need around 5 pounds of nectar to make one pound of honey.

How Much Time is Required for a Nectar to be a Honey?

Particularly during a heavy honey flow, it typically takes a few days from collecting nectar to produce capped honey. It’s a lengthy process for some, and it may seem yucky or disgusting. Before regurgitating it into the comb cells, bees collect nectar and process it with enzymes in their honey stomachs. The enzyme-mediated breakdown of nectar is called inversion.

The nectar is collected by forager bees who leave the hive. The nectar is regurgitated to the younger house bees by the older ones. The nectar is broken down by the house bee’s enzymes, which are also present in the bee’s stomach. Once the water content is reduced to roughly 20% to 23%, the nectar is passed from house bee to house bee.

The inverted nectar will be regurgitated into a cell by the last house bee. The bees will fan it virtually continuously to remove the moisture from it and bring it down to 18% moisture before capping it with wax. She’ll have to visit 50 to 100 blooms to fill her forager bee honey belly.

Final Words

If you’re interested in learning more about honey-making, we highly recommend reading this blog. It provides an in-depth guide on how bees go about making honey, as well as the steps needed to establish a beehive and the length of time it takes for honey to be produced. You’ll be on your way to becoming a beekeeper in no time if you follow these easy steps!