Putting honey away After receiving a regurgitated stomach-full of nectar from another bee, a middle-aged worker deposits it into a honey cell.

Foraging bees store nectar, the colony's principal source of carbohydrates, in the so-called honey stomach in their abdomens. When they return to the hive, they regurgitate the nectar to middle-aged workers, which either distribute the nectar for immediate consumption or process it into honey and store it in special honey cells. Sometimes foragers bring water rather than nectar. Nurse bees—those tending the brood of unborn workers—will use the water either to dilute honey to feed the brood or, on hot days, to cool the hive through evaporation (see temperature).

Bee on flower with full pollen A honeybee with a full pollen basket visible on her hind left leg.

Returning foragers also bring pollen, which they carry in special pollen "baskets" on their hind legs. Pollen provides colony members with vital amino acids, vitamins, and fats. It is stored in pollen cells near the brood cells, so it is readily available to nurse bees, which fashion the pollen into a kind of bread for supplying nourishment to developing larvae.

Photos: ©1998 ORF.

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