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How many bees does it take to make a jar of honey?

Have you ever wondered how a tiny little insect like a bee could ever fill a jar of honey? If it were just down to one bee it would be a mighty task but the work is shared by many thousands of bees and is a great example of what can be achieved by a co-ordinated effort. Think of it in terms of humans creating something like a pyramid.

A jar of honey weighs 454grammes and a bee can carry about 0.04grammes of nectar. But nectar is only about 40% sugar and honey needs to be about 80% sugar so the bee actually only carries about 0.02grammes of honey on each trip.

Now how many bees would we need to fill a jar of honey? The answer is 454/0.02 grammes which equals =

22,700 bees are required to fill a single jar of honey.

This sounds impressive enough but of course a colony of bees doesn't just make one jar of honey. Over the year the queen will produce between 100,000 and 200,000 bees that will each spend between 10 and 20 days collecting nectar.

At its most productive a single colony of bees could theoretically produce around 800kg of honey, that's almost a tonne!

The reason that beehives aren't the size of warehouses to accommodate all this honey is that it is being continually used up by the bees as fuel, primarily to keep the brood warm. So at any given time there may only be between 10 and 20kg of honey in the hive.

Comments

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Austin, 18 May 2013

That's alot of bees for a jar of honey


Stewart, 22 August 2011

Bees do not carry honey, they carry nectar and convert it to honey by adding invertase, changing it from sucrose to fructose & glucose. They then evaporate moisture off until the content is about 19% - 20%. You have not calculated how many bees it takes to fill a jar of honey. Bees don't just make one trip each. You have given the amount of trips one bee would have to take. Your theoretical 800kgs per. hive is just that. The average British hive produces 35 - 40lb of honey per year - that's 16 - 18kgs

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