Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekly MUSE: Honeybees

Photo Credit: Metaphorical Pltypus

I was rummaging through my cupboard, looking for something sweet, when I came across a jar of honey. Yummy honey, I thought! Perfect!

I immediately grabbed a spoon, untwisted the lid, and dipped my spoon into the golden sweetness! As soon as the honey hit my tongue, I was in heaven. And after a few more spoonful’s my mind drifted to the tiny creatures that create the sugary perfection we call HONEY!

Looks like we’ve found our MUSE! And this one’s going to be SWEEEEEEEEET!

So, how do bees make honey, anyway?

Well, first we have to know how bees operate inside their hives. It is truly a small society where every bee has a specific job to do.

Queen Bee (center)
Photo Credit: Keith McDuffey
First, we have the QUEEN BEE. She is the only bee who lays eggs, up to 2000 eggs a day. All of her life, she is fed a special food called royal jelly. All bee larvae are fed this special food when they are young, but only the Queen is fed royal jelly all her life. This is why she is FULLY developed and able to lay eggs. She is the BIGGEST bee in the hive.

Side note: Royal jelly is a special food substance that bees discharge from glands in their heads. Sounds YUMMY, huh? I think I will stick to HONEY!

Next, we have DRONES. Drones are the only male bees in the hive, and there are only a few of these guys living at the hive. In fact, once they are finished mating with the Queen, they are kicked out!

The rest of the hive is made up of WORKER BEES. These are all underdeveloped females, meaning that they cannot lay eggs. Young worker bees tend to the Queen. Older worker bees serve as scouts (bee pioneers who look for food supplies and nesting sites), foragers (nectar and pollen gatherers), honeycomb builders, honey makers, and hive guards.

Now that you know a little bit more about the secret society of bees, watch this video to see how honey is made.

Pretty neat, huh!?

But there is something that this video left out. When bees collect nectar from flowers, they store it in their honey sacks (or honey stomach). When they get back to the hive, they spit-up the honey into the mouths of other bees, who will “chew” on it for a while. The “chewer” bee will naturally add enzymes to the nectar, which breaks it down onto a simply sugar. She will then deposit this altered nectar into the honeycomb.
From there, the bees will fan the nectar by buzzing their wings. This keeps the hive warm and helps to evaporate water from the nectar, leaving behind the gooey, sweet stuff we call honey. Once the honey is gooey enough, other worker bees will cap the honey with beeswax.

Remember those “scout” bees we learned about just a second ago? These bees are my favorite, because they are TRULY pioneers. They are the astronauts or the explorers of the BEE WORLD. They hunt for large flower populations and return to the hive to let the “forager” bees know where to collect nectar. But how do they communicate? They DANCE! Take a look at this video to see the famous bee “waggle dance”.

While most of us enjoy the honey that bees tirelessly create, there is something even MORE important that bees are responsible for. POLINATION!

While bees buzz around collecting nectar, they spread pollen from one plant to another. Without this transfer of pollen, plants would not be able to make fruit. And without fruit, there would be no seeds. And without seeds, there would be no plants. Get the picture?

The bottom line: The world would have a lot less food and a lot less plants without bees!

Speaking of food, who likes Honey Nut Cheerios? I DO! And I especially love Buzz, the honeybee character on the box. He has been trying to get kids to eat Honey Nut Cheerios since I was a kid. Take a look at this video of Buzz, and play some of his videogames by clicking here.

Written By: Professor Watermelon
Illustrated By: Josh Smart
Also, if you haven’t heard already, HONEYBEES were my MUSE when I wrote my latest book, HERBERT. Click here if you would like tolearn more about this book.

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your main character was a beekeeper, and the bees made a magical honey? What is special about this honey, and who wants it?

WHAT IF your main character was a Queen Bee who did not want to live at the hive all day laying eggs?

WHAT IF a scientist could make robotic honeybees?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,
Professor Watermelon

The word of the day is “enzyme”. Here is the definition: any of various proteins, originating from living cells and capable of producing certain chemical changes in organic substances during digestion. 


  1. What if a bee didn't work hard?
    What if a bee had to go to school?
    What if a they didn't have a queen bee in the group?
    What if a bee was blue?
    What if a bee didn't like honey?

    By Celeste B

  2. 1.What if bees hated nectar?
    2.What if bees hated honey?
    3.What if the queen bee hated laying eggs?
    4.What if the worker bees hated working all day?
    5.What if bees could not fly?
    6.What if the hive had a king bee?
    7.What if bees were different color?
    8.What if bees did not have to work all day?
    9.What if bees had a job?
    10.What if bees had to go to school?
    11.What if bees could read?
    12.What if bees could talk?
    13.What if bees had magical powers?
    14.What if bees could create a website for selling honey?
    15.What if bees had a bee government?
    16.What if bees could cook?
    17.What if bees could call people?
    18.What if bees had little furniture in the hive?
    19.What if bees could buy stuff?
    20.What if bees were your pet?

    -Queen Puppy Lover

  3. 1-What if bees didn't have stingers?
    2-What if there were queen bees
    3-What if bees made pickles instead of honey?
    4-What if bees did not do the waggle dance?
    5-What if bees bees did the disco dance instead?
    6-What if bees had tongues?
    7-What if there were no worker bees?
    8-What if the bees were so fast that you could not see them?
    9-What if bees did not like flowers?
    10-What if bees do not know how to make honey?
    11-What if bees could not find flowers?
    12-What if bees lived alone?
    13-What if bees played soccer?
    14-What if bees lived in the ocean?
    15-What if bees collected water instead of nectar?
    16-What if bees had pink and purple colors?
    17-What if bees had villages?
    18-What if bees loved to read?
    19-What if bees were evil?
    20-What if bees loved to write books?

  4. Michael’s Honey Bee

    1-What if bees can’t sting?
    2-What if bees have different body parts?
    3-What if bees could eat spiders?
    4-What if bees could talk?
    5-What if bees have extra legs?
    6-What if bees did not know how to make honey?
    7-What if bees loved the moon?
    8-What if the bees lived on the moon?
    9-What if bees could sting each other?
    10-What if bees did not get along with their queen bee?
    11-What if the worker bees tricked their queen bee?
    12-What if bees could read?
    13-What if bees could write?
    14-What if bees could tell time?
    15-What if bees loved candy?
    16-What if bees could make snowcones?
    17-What if bees could do tae kwon do?
    18-What if bees could save the world?
    19-What if bees loved trash?
    20-What if bees could eat cows?

  5. what if a bee make a hot honey
    what if a bee went in to vacuum cleaner
    what if a bee is a gene
    what if a bee has a firebreath
    what if a bee was a bear
    what if a bee was a shark
    what if a bee was a lady
    what if a bee was a horse
    what if a bee was a yak
    what if a bee was a eel
    what if a bee was a elephant
    what if a bee was a fish
    what if a bee was a bird
    what if a bee was a frog
    what if a bee was a tutle
    what if a bee was a man
    what if a bee was a tapole
    what if a bee was a carp
    what if a bee was a leech
    what if a bee was a moth
    what if a bee was a crayfish

    by prof.firebreath

  6. what if honeybees didn't collect pollen?
    what if honeybees were blue?
    what if honeybees didn't like honey?
    what if honeybees couldn't fly?
    what if honeybees were tie-dye?
    what if honeybees had spots?
    what if honeybees had a tail?
    what if honeybees didn't have a stinger?
    what if honeybees didn't exist?
    what if honeybees could talk?
    what if honeybees were allergic to flowers?
    what if honeybees were as big as humans?
    what if honeybees were the smallest creature on earth?
    what if honeybees lived on mars?
    what if honeybees were only lived in winter?
    what if honeybees watched movies?
    what if honeybees were faster than cheetahs?
    what if honeybees drove cars?
    what if honeybees lived underwater?
    what if honeybees could turn into other animals?