How Do Bees Make Honey?

How Do Bees Make Honey?

Honey production is a complex process involving tens of thousands of bees from a single hive, each with different roles. Let's explore the fascinating world of bees and how they create our beloved Manuka honey.

  • Honey production involves queen, drone, and worker bees, with worker bees collecting nectar and initiating the honey-making process
  • Nectar is broken down by enzymes in the bees' "honey stomach," passed among worker bees, and stored in honeycomb cells to dry into honey
  • The Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) plays a crucial role in pollinating numerous crops, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts
  • Manuka honey differs from regular honey as it is derived from a single source, the Manuka tea tree, and contains unique beneficial compounds like MGO
  • Manukora promotes ethical beekeeping practices to ensure the well-being of bees and the quality of their Manuka honey

Roles of Bees in Honey Production

Bee Type


Queen Bee

Controls the colony, lays fertilized and unfertilized eggs

Drone Bees

Mate with the queen to reproduce

Worker Bees

Collect nectar, refine it into honey, and maintain the hive

How do bees make honey?

Honey production is a complex process involving tens of thousands of bees from a single hive. Worker bees gather nectar from flowering plants, which is then broken down by enzymes in their "honey stomach," initiating the honey-making process.

The nectar is passed among worker bees, further refined, and stored in honeycomb cells, where it eventually dries into honey. This process is crucial not only for the production of honey but also for the pollination of numerous crops, as bees play a vital role in our agricultural system.

Executive Summary:

  • Honey production is a complex process involving tens of thousands of bees from a single hive, with different roles, including queen, drone, and worker bees.
  • Worker bees gather nectar from flowering plants, which is then broken down by enzymes in their "honey stomach," initiating the process of honey production.
  • The nectar is then passed amongst the bees, further refined, and stored in honeycomb cells, where it eventually dries into honey.
  • The Apis mellifera, or the Western honey bee, plays a significant role in our agricultural system through the pollination of numerous fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
  • Manuka honey from Manukora is graded for its MGO (methylglyoxal) value, a potent antibacterial nutrient not found in any other type of honey.
  • Manukora promotes ethical beekeeping practices such as leaving enough honey for the bees' winter food, not disrupting the bees' natural process, and not depleting the honey's natural properties through other processing methods.

Where Does Honey Come From?

Honey seamlessly fits into any daily routine. It serves as a decadent tea sweetener, a rich topping for cereal and snacks, and even a delicious secret ingredient in many family recipes. 

For many, it’s hard to imagine life without honey — but where does this sweet substance come from? 

In this article, we explore the bustling world of bees and how our beloved Manuka honey is made.

How Is Honey Made?

While a drop of honey may seem small to us, it results from a large, complex, and natural process involving tens of thousands of bees.

The true ability of bees lies in their astonishing numbers!

Thousands of bees work together, communicating and collaborating to produce the honey that eventually makes its way into our pantries. 

Block Quote: One hive alone can home 10,000 to 70,000 bees.

So, how do all of these bees transform nectar into Manuka honey?

What Are the Different Roles a Bee Can Play?

Bees that function as part of a colony have different roles, including:

  • The queen bee is a female bee that controls the whole colony — populating the hive with her fertilized or unfertilized eggs. 
  • The unfertilized eggs become male “drone” bees, whose only job is to mate and reproduce with the queen.
  • The fertilized eggs become the female “worker” bees — the true backbone of the entire operation. The worker bees are the ones who collect nectar, which leads to honey production.

What Does a Worker Bee’s Day-to-Day Look Like?

Aside from maintaining the structural integrity of the beehive itself, worker bees go out every day in search of the substance that eventually will become honey: nectar. 

Nectar is a sugary fluid that many flowering plants secrete alongside pollen to encourage natural pollination. 

In addition to being the main ingredient of honey, nectar also serves as the bees’ main food source. 

They will fly far and wide for nectar, traveling several kilometers to visit hundreds of flowers.

When worker bees find a good supply of nectar, they communicate with each other through tiny movements — offering a small glimpse into the magnificent and intelligent world of bees and honey. 

Once a forager bee lands on a flower, they dive head first, looking for nectar. 

Their special straw-like tongue called a proboscis, is used like a straw to suck up tiny droplets. Once harvested, the nectar stays inside a special organ in the bee called a “honey stomach.” 

As bees continue to fly in search of more nectar, the nectar in their stomachs is broken down by digestive enzymes. 

This marks the first step in honey production!

Once the bees return to the hive, they pass the nectar to each other to refine the nectar further.

Each new bee ingesting the nectar adds an enzyme called invertase before passing it to the next worker. 

This helps to break down long chains of complex sugar molecules into shorter, simpler glucose and fructose molecules. In other words, this helps the honey taste sweeter and makes it easier for our bodies to use for energy. 

At this point, the nectar has been irreversibly transformed, but its water content is still too high. 

House bees (young worker bees that stay at the hive until maturing) pack the substance away in the iconic hexagon-shaped wax cells that make up the “honeycomb.” 

At this point, many commercial honey manufacturers remove the honey before it can be fully dehydrated. Unfortunately, doing so means high heat and heavy processing. At Manukora, we let the bees do their thing! 

Honeybees use the warm air produced by flapping their wings to dry the nectar. 

This eventually dries it into a sticky, dense texture that real honey is known for. The honeycomb cell is then covered with a fresh layer of beeswax, making a tiny jar of honey for the coming winter months.

What Role Do Bees Play?

One of the most valuable members of this world is the Apis mellifera, which we know as the Western (or European) honey bee

Although roughly 16,000 known bee species exist around the globe, this is the bee you are most likely familiar with.

Humans have had a symbiotic relationship with bees for thousands of years — images of honey pots are even on the walls of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. 

Today, bee colonies play a major role in our agricultural system.

If these bees disappeared from the earth tomorrow, we would have much to worry about. It's estimated that they pollinate around three-quarters of all the vegetables, fruits, and nuts we consume yearly.

For instance, popular food crops like blueberries and almonds rely almost entirely on bees for their pollination. 

Although Western Bees are the most common, other bees worldwide play specific roles in pollinating many local crops. Different nectars can influence honey's taste, texture, and color. 

This is why honey from different regions across the globe can have their unique flavors. 

What’s the Difference Between Manuka Honey and Regular Honey?

The difference between Manuka honey and other types of honey is that the bees harvest the nectar from a single source, the Manuka tea tree of New Zealand. 

The Manuka tea tree — first discovered by the native Maori population — only flowers during an extremely narrow few-week window each year. 

This is part of the reason Manuka is extremely rare and valuable.

On top of a short flowering window, the compounds that come from this particular tree contribute to Manuka honey’s many wellness properties and long history of use.

Standard honey comes from many floral sources, like clover, acacia, and other wildflowers. It can be recognized by its translucent gold color and consistency, similar to maple syrup. Unlike the specific origin of Manuka, regular honey is produced and sourced from all around the world. 

Why Choose Manuka Honey From Manukora? 

So if regular honey and Manuka honey come from bees and plants, you might wonder if one has an advantage over another. 

As it turns out, our raw Manuka honey has significant advantages over other forms of honey — we like to think of it as Honey with Superpowers™

The thick, dark, and creamy consistency gives way to a sensory experience unlike anything else. 

Manuka’s bioactive compounds include prebiotics, the antibacterial compound MGO, and unique antioxidants you won’t find in regular honey. 

So, let’s take an even closer look at why many wellness enthusiasts choose Manuka honey from Manukora.

MGO for Wellness

Manukora’s Manuka honey is graded for its MGO value. A higher MGO value means higher levels of naturally occurring methylglyoxal (MGO).

MGO is a unique, potent antibacterial nutrient not found in any other type of honey. 

As the MGO rating increases, so do the other key unique bioactive compounds in the Manuka.

Each batch is third-party tested to verify the MGO level. 

With Manukora, these results are available on our QR tracking system. All you need to do is scan your honey’s QR code with your phone!

Our range of varying MGO-rated honey fits perfectly in any day-to-day wellness routine. Try a teaspoon of 600+ Manuka honey to kickstart a powerful week, or opt for just a drizzle of 850+ Manuka honey in your afternoon cup of tea. 

Ethical Beekeeping

With beekeeping becoming one of the fastest-growing hobbies in an increasingly environmentally aware world, we’re proud to be leaders in the Art of Ethical Beekeeping. 

Here are just a few of our most notable ways of working with nature, not against it:

  • Our beekeepers always leave enough honey in the hive to give the bees ample food for the winter when they need that energy the most.
  • Our hives don’t need to be transported or shifted for commercial pollination. The bees we work with are never disrupted or exposed to the pesticides and environmental chemicals usually resulting from this kind of shifting.
  • Our bees are never fed refined sugar; we’re here to work with nature and found that nature’s way of doing things is best left untouched.
  • We allow our bees to complete their process. Much of the honey you find in the grocery store must be dehydrated to reduce moisture. 
    • This process can deplete its natural properties. 
    • In contrast, allowing the bees to dehydrate the honey naturally using their amazing process means all of the beneficial properties are retained.

Our honey is also traceable via each product’s QR code — a crucial way to ensure your Manuka honey is genuine is to trace it back to its roots. 

With adulterated honey infiltrating the honey industry, it's become essential that we provide adequate traceability to our customers. 

That way, you know that any Manukora Manuka Honey is, in fact, authentic. 

Regenerative Practices

We've grown up doing things the New Zealand way — this is a slower, more intentional way of life, and we believe it is the pathway to a better planetary future.

We are dedicated to implementing and refining regenerative practices across our entire business. 

As such, the health of our amazing pollinators and the ecosystems in which they reside is our top priority, as we know this is critical to a healthy and happy planet Earth.

You can read more about our commitment to this mission here. 

Rely on the Best

There are many different aspects to high-quality honey production. However, if we focus on achieving ecological balance, we get a functioning food network due to the intricate pollination process, and at the same time, we are gifted with this amazing honey.

In the pursuit of ecological harmony, Manukora's trending products are not just a testament to the quality of honey but also a reflection of our commitment to nature. 

Manuka Honey UMF 24+ MGO 1123, showcases our commitments to sustainable practices.

We also offer a wide range of Manuka honey varieties, ensuring there's a perfect match for every preference. 

For those new to this journey, our Daily Honey Intake Guide offers insightful tips on how to incorporate Manuka honey into your daily routine.

Moreover, we address common queries such as Do Honey Bees Sting? to enhance your understanding of these vital pollinators. 

At Manukora, we’re constantly striving towards ecological balance and spreading the beneficial wellness properties of Manuka.

Ready to explore Manuka honey for yourself? Check out our high-MGO Manuka honey here, or learn more about ethical beekeeping.


The Colony and its Organization | Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium

How Bees Communicate | Ask A Biologist

Therapeutic Manuka Honey: No Longer So Alternative | PMC

Streptococcus Mutans in Saliva of Normal Subjects and Neck and Head Irradiated Cancer Subjects After Consumption of Honey | PMC

5 Benefits of Manuka Honey | Cleveland Clinic

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