How to Make a Pound of Honey
Honey bees will tap about two million flowers and fly 50,000 miles (80,000 km) to make one pound (454 g) of honey.
Calculation of honey production by one honey bee
How many flowers a bee visits to gather one load of nectar? C.R. Ribbands (1949) determined that one bee can visit several hundred flowers for a load of sweet clover and up to 1,110-1,446 for a load of Limnanthes nectar. Since the number will vary by size of the flower and quantity of nectar secreted, we will assume a honey bee taps fewer flowers than she visits and we have used a minimum of 100 flowers for our calculation.
How much nectar she collects in one load?
Park (1922, 1925) found that the weight of nectar per load was an average was 40 mg during the nectar flow and Lundie (1925) found an average of 25 mg. We can assume a median value of 32 mg nectar per load.
What percentage of the nectar collected is converted to honey?
Wilson et al. (1958) lists the sugar content of clover and alfalfa (our most common honey crop ) as 45% sugar concentration. The water content has to be evaporated until the sugar concentration is over 80% and water less than 20% to make honey. Using an average value of 45% sugar concentration in a 32 mg nectar load there are 14 mg invert sugars and 2.8 mg water used in making 17 mg honey.
The distance of an average foraging trip?
The distance of the foraging trip varies according to the location of the nectar source and the quantity of nectar secreted. Martin (1970) found that bees like to forage 4 km (2.5 miles) from the hive ranging over 12,500 acres. Others have found that the median radius of a colony is a few hundred metres in agricultural areas and 2 km in forested regions (2- 4 km return trip). Using a median value of 3 km for a nectar collection trip we can find the distance flown to collect honey.
Number of flowers visited to make one pound of honey
Diameter of earth = 12,714 km