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 454 grammes and a bee can carry about 0.04 grammes of nectar. But nectar is only about 40% sugar and honey needs to be about 80% sugar so the bee actually only carries about 0.02 grammes 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 800 kg 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 20 kg of honey in the hive.