Honeybee nest

Title Info
Common name Honeybee
Scientific name Apis mellifera
Taxonomic group Apidae
Source Dan L. Perlman
Nutrient cycles Carbon
Change over time Life cycles
Behavior Social; Nesting
Organisms Animals
Animals Insects
Date July 06, 2004
Honeybee nest showing honey cells
Related materials: Honeybees

Honeybee nest showing honey cells. These cells are nearly filled with honey. Nectar, a dilute sugary liquid that plants use to attract insect pollinators, usually contains sucrose (regular table sugar) and 30-90 percent water. Honeybees evaporate off some of the water by regurgitating the nectar, spreading it on cells in the nest, and fanning the cells with their wings. The bees then mix invertase, an enzyme from their salivary glands, with the concentrating nectar; the enzyme breaks nearly all of the sucrose into two simpler sugars, glucose and fructose. A second enzyme, glucose oxidase, changes some of the glucose into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. The more acidic liquid is less hospitable to bacteria and fungi, and the peroxide also helps by killing these agents that might spoil the honey. The final product contains no more than 18 percent water, and this solution has such high osmotic pressure that it receives even further protection from bacteria. Once the cell is full, the bees will cover it with a wax cap.