How do bees make honey? How do bees make honey? The story about honey starts with a story about sex. The flowers’ sexual story. Like us, flowers can reproduce sexually. Everything starts when pollen, which plays the role of a spermatozoon for flowers, meets with pistil, which contains ovaries. So, the pollen of a plant needs to touch the pistil of another plant. But as plants cannot move along, somone or something else has to do it for them. Some plants rely upon wind but it does not work efficiently. Pollens travel randomly, and fall down more often on the ground rather than on a pistil. Therefore, most of every other flowers have chosen another solution. They manage so that insects carry the pollen grains from one flower to another. To do so, they happen to be resourceful to attract insects into their flower. Brightly coloured petals, fragrant smells and so on. And what’s more attractive than sugar? At the deep bottom of petals, the plant is secreting nectar, a really sweetened water. Insects, such as the butterfly, are fond of this nectar. They fly from one flower to another to feed. One their way, pollen grains cling to their hairy paws and come down on some other flowers. And here it’s done! Not only does pollen travel but, besides, the chances are high for it to reach another plant’s pistil. Bees do as the butterfly, except that they do not swallow all of the nectar. They store it into a special stomach called crop. The chemical transformation of the nectar starts inside this crop. Sugar is predigested in it as it is in our stomach. Complex sugars such as saccharose are transformed into simpler sugars: glucose and fructose. They can be directly assimilated in the blood by the organism. Inside the crop, as the nectar is dried, the sugar concentration inscreases. Once back at the beehive, the nectar is regurgitated by the bee, and then swallowed again by other bees in order to complete the process Then, nectar which is almost already honey is poured into beeswax alveolus made by builder bees. Fanning bees finish to dry honey. As soon as the water content is under 20%, bees close the alveolus and honey can be kept to be used as food next winter. Even much later! They said honey found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs was still edible. Honey harvested by the beekeeper required a considerable amount of work from bees. After each flight, a bee can bring back up to 70 mg of nectar in its crop, which will finally give less than 25mg of honey. To do this, a bee has to gather pollen from about 500 flowers and fly sometimes several kilometres. To fill in a 500g honey-pot, about 20 000 flights are required – that is, virtually the earth’s circumference – and 10 000 000 of flowers, that is about 7 000 hours of work. Production: Unisciel/ University of Lille 1 Conception/Production: Maxime Beaugeois, Damien Deltombe and Daniel Hennequin Editing/Special effects: Damien Deltombe Music: Sébastien Ride, « Thunder Chacha » (SR Music) Presentation: Maxime and Nina Beaugeois Graphic design/Credits animation: Michaël Mensier.