How Do Bees Make Honey? A Guide for Kids

Finished honey flapjacks

So, you know that honey comes from bees, but how do bees make honey? Kids ask this question all the time, and it’s because most grown-ups don’t even know the answer! Here is an easy explanation and a quick-and-tasty recipe to make honey flapjacks to show off your learning.

There are many different types of bee, but only the honey bee can make honey. And it all starts when they visit a flower…

How Bees Make Honey–Step-by-Stepbee collecting nectar

The flower that a honey bee visits must contain nectar, otherwise it will move on. Nectar is like sugar water, and this is what bees like–yummers! They suck it up using their tongue which is hollow like a straw–it’s proper name is a proboscis.

Now the nectar is inside the bee’s tummy, and its little body then turns the sugar part of nectar (called sucrose) into different kinds of sugar (glucose and fructose). Some of the glucose then gets turned into an acid. By turning some of the nectar into acid, any bacteria is killed so it doesn’t get into the honey. This is why honey can last for years and years.

beehoneycombThe bee then moves this watery honey mix from its tummy, into its mouth, and then into the honeycombs of the hive.

But this new nectar mix is still quite watery, so the clever bees get rid of most of the water by fanning the mix with their wings. The mixture is now thicker and resembles what we know as honey.

To protect their honey, the bees will seal the honeycombs with wax.

Those Clever Bees

So, how do bees make so much honey? Well, once they find a good patch of flowers that they like, they go back to the hive and do a bee dance to point other bees in the direction of the tasty nectar.beecartoon

In its whole life, a single bee only produces about one and a half teaspoons of honey, but they live in really big groups, which means they can make a lot of honey when they work together.

Different Types of Honeyrunny honey

Honey can taste different depending on what flowers the bees have been feasting on. For example, if beekeepers keep their hives close to heather for the bees to enjoy, the honey these bees produce will be much stronger in taste. Different flowers give different flavours.

All honey starts off as being clear and runny, however, over time, some honey can set and become thicker and grainy–this is called set honey. It’s easy to get it back to being runny though, just heat for a short time in the microwave, or put the jar into a bowl of warm water. For cooking, it’s often easier if the honey you use is runny.

You can use this tip if you choose to make our delicious honey flapjacks…

Stuff You’ll Needhoney flapjack ingredients

  • 200g butter
  • 200g sugar (we used demerara, but any will do)
  • 200g honey*
  • 400g oats
  • Large saucepan, wooden spoon, baking tray 

* You can use golden syrup, or a combination of honey and golden syrup depending on what you have in the cupboard.

Let’s Get Going

Preheat the oven to 180c, 350f, gas 4.

Weighing out ingredients1. Put your butter, sugar, and honey into a large saucepan. Heat it gently until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.

 

 

flapoatsstir2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the oats.

 

 

 

flattening down the flapjack mix3. Spoon the mix into a greased baking tray. Flatten it down a little with your spoon–the mix will spread so you don’t have to push it right into the corners or make it really smooth.

 

 

 

flapsquares4. Get a grown-up to put it into the oven for 15 minutes. It’s ready when it’s golden around the edges but still squidgy in the middle.

5. Leave it to cool and then cut it into squares. Yummers!

 

Did we answer all your questions about how bees make honey? Let us know if you have anything else about bees and honey that you’d like to know.

Image credit: With thanks to mamboman1 for the bee collecting nectar picture.

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Comments

  1. v.niharika says:

    so nice explination

  2. Great this is awesome

  3. Awesome recipe!

  4. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLLOLOLOLLOOLOLOLOLOLO
    GREAT EXPLANATION

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