One compelling reason to take up beekeeping as a hobby is honey, and if you have enough hives, you may turn a profit. Selling honey is one way that beekeepers defray the costs of maintaining and keeping hives in their apiary- it is just one of the sweet rewards of keeping bees.
So, how many bees does it take to make a jar of honey?
On average, a single bee produces around 1/12 teaspoon of honey, so it will take 12 bees to make one teaspoon. Therefore, 36 bees are needed for a tablespoon of honey, which equates to 1152 bees for a 16-ounce honey jar. For a larger jar, you would need approximately 9216 bees to produce a full gallon of honey.
Keep reading to learn more about bees and honey!
The Beauty of Bees
What’s all the hoopla about bees? Why is it that they are so important? Without bees pollinating plants and flowers, agriculture would dry up and people would starve. Bees are crucial, critical to humanity and all walks of life.
Many fruits and veggies that bees pollinate are eaten by people- but also, by other animals that people, in turn, eat. Bees are an integral part of the cycle of life; without them, there would be catastrophic consequences.
It should also be mentioned that bees are incredibly hard workers. They are resilient and quiet-contributing to mankind but often get a bad rap. Beekeeping is another way to protect and preserve these tiny beings. Be nice to bees.
Bees and Honey
Bees are so small. How much honey could they possibly produce in their lifetime? The short answer is not much. The amount of honey that a single bee can produce is quite small- probably 1/12 of a teaspoon throughout the bee’s life.
Remember that worker bees do not live very long, maybe a couple of months. However, since bees live in hives, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of bees contributing at least the same amount.
If you try to break it down to how much honey a bee can produce in a single day, it would be difficult to measure and quite a small amount.
A Jar of Honey
When you go to a store or market to buy honey, have you ever wondered about how much work and how many bees it takes to produce? The answer is a lot. In fact, thousands of bees are needed to make a single, simple jar of honey.
Do the math: a single bee can make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey during its lifetime, so it would take a dozen bees for a teaspoon of this delectably sweet treat. A tablespoon will take 36 bees to produce- more or less- and a 16-ounce jar contains 32 tablespoons, which means it takes about 1152 bees to fill it.
For a gallon-sized jar of honey, you would need approximately 9216 bees to contribute! When marketing, pricing, and selling your own honey, keep the time and resources involved in mind!
Hives and Honey
This begs the question: how much honey does one hive make? A bee colony can make many pounds of honey per year, often over 60 pounds!
This requires the work of bees, but also the efforts of an experienced beekeeper who knows how to maintain an apiary. Bees will use some of the excess honey to sustain the colony through the long winter, but still leave plenty for the beekeeper to enjoy or sell for a profit (or not!).
Flowers and Nectar
While it may seem unbelievable the number of bees needed to produce a significant amount of honey, imagine how many flowers are involved- a lot!
The National Honey Board asserts that it takes around two million flowers- that’s right, two million– for bees to visit and forage for a single pound of honey. You may wonder where the bees are going to find so many flowers and nectar to make honey?
Bees are particularly astute at smelling and identifying which flowers and plants offer nectar, which makes them excellent foragers. While bees are crucial to the survival of mankind, this also sheds light on how vitally important flowers are, too.
Which flowers are best for gathering nectar to make honey? Surprisingly, most nectar is found in poppies, so this brings the bees the most reward when foraging.
Marigolds are an excellent source of nectar, and their strong, somewhat off-putting scent makes this flower easy for bees to find. Sunflowers are another option that offers plenty of nectar, plus their height makes them easy for flying bees to access and forage from.
A lot of nectar is needed to make honey, so that means a lot of flowers are needed, too. Plant things that bees like to help them in their very important work.
Some other flowers that help bees include these:
- Lilacs are fragrant and provide nectar for bees and butterflies.
- Lavender is a great flower to plant for honeybees, as it is abundant in nectar.
- Plant Wisteria for the fragrant blossoms that bees love!
- Black Eyed Susan is easy to grow and full of nectar in the center of each flower.
- Mint is an excellent and easy-to-grow option that attracts bees. Mint also smells fantastic, with numerous culinary uses, too.
- You likely know how wonderful honeysuckle smells- bees do, too! Birds and bees alike are attracted to honeysuckle flowers.
- Snapdragons are tall and colorful- often in shades of blue or yellow, which bees can easily see. Bees do not see the color red very well, so make it easy for them with colorful flowers that they can easily spot when foraging.
With such an important job, please note how one small yield, chilly spring, or off-season can impact and hurt bees and impact honey harvests widely.
As you can see, it takes a lot of bees to make a jar of your favorite honey. Remember this when shopping for or selling your own honey! Use this information to make additional revenue from your apiary and consider what else you can produce to defray the costs of maintaining your hives.