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5D Thinking Team
Honeybees and their Golden Syrup
Saba Irshad Ansari
5D Thinking Team
04 Sep 2021 18:22

The other day, while watering plants in my backyard, I spotted some honeybees humming around our Passionfruit flowers. This was the first bloom of the Passionfruit vine we planted recently. As I observed them for a while, I noticed they have already built a hive concealed in the depths of one of the trees nearby. The honeybees were the tiny ones, known as dwarf honey bees or Apisflorea. The delicious honey they are designed to produce makes them more welcoming as opposed to their distant cousins from the same order (i.e., Hymenoptera), the Yellow Paper Wasps being more common in the Indian region. This was obviously not my first sight of a beehive – we live in the countryside where beehives are very common in forest areas. What sparked my curiosity about the honeybees this time was the fact that although we have had an Arabian Jasmine vine in the backyard for ages which blooms in abundance every summer, but we barely ever noticed honeybees around it. So, it seems, the honeybees found the Passionfruit flowers’ nectar sweeter than the Arabian Jasmines’. This shows that they pick and choose which area to build their hive in according to the availability of the sweetest flowers.


The honeybee is an insect from the family Apidae, and the genus Apis. There are seven known honeybee species worldwide. Out of the two sexes, the females are subdivided as the queen and the worker bees, whereas the males are known as drones. Every beehive is ruled by a queen bee who is responsible for laying eggs and keeping track of the population by controlling the fertilization of eggs. The worker bees do all the work which includes housekeeping, feeding the queen and larvae, and secreting wax for the construction of combs to give the hive its shape. When worker bees get older, they venture out of the hive to collect nectar and pollen. In the process of collecting nectar and pollen, they help transfer pollen from one plant to another, thereby contributing a lion’s share to the ecosystem through pollination. These social insects live in a colony and are known to convey messages to their fellow bees through dance movements.


Bees have a very complex system inside their bodies. They have a separate stomach to store nectar and several small spines on their legs for attaching the pollen grains. After collecting nectar by making several trips outside the hive, foraging worker bees go back to their hive and deliver the nectar to the indoor honey-making bees. The nectar is then transferred from one mouth of an indoor bee to another, chewed and mixed with enzymes until the moisture content of the nectar decreases. When the moisture level reaches about 20%, the nectar is transformed into honey. Interestingly, if the temperature of the hive is high enough (32.5°C), the process by which nectar is transferred from one bee to another is skipped altogether because the level of evaporation in the hive is sufficient to reduce the moisture content of the nectar on its own. It is at this stage that the final product is dropped into one of the cells of the honeycomb. It gets dried out even further with the action of the bees’ flapping wings until it reaches the desired consistency, and turns into a viscous golden syrup-like liquid called honey. The cell is then closed with the beeswax to protect it from dust or rain. In a life span of 6 or 7 weeks, a honeybee is only able to produce a very small amount of honey, about half a teaspoon. It is estimated that 300 honeybees are required to make about 450 grams of honey in three weeks’ time.


Honey is not only known for its nutritional value but also for its healing properties. It has been widely used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Lately, health awareness has led to an increased demand of honey making it costly. Honey was used by the ancient man as a sweetener before the invention of sugar. Sugar, being a late discovery, is known to have been produced for the first time in the northern parts of India around the first century AD. Initially, sugar was extremely expensive and was considered a luxury but with the technological advancements beginning in the early 16th century and the establishment of sugar mills, it became cheaper and gained popularity among the poor masses. It is only after achieving marvelous technological feats that man has been able to produce other derivatives of sugar such as jams, corn syrup, molasses, maple syrup, etc. Scientific research continues to explore more convenient and cheaper ways to produce sugar.


Having said that, it is clear that we require knowledge for producing sugar. Sugar mills are equipped with excellent machinery which has made its production easy, fast, and cheap to meet the demand at a larger scale. Does it not make us wonder how come honey is the work of uneducated bees? How do they produce something so perfect which, if stored in clean glass jars at a certain temperature cannot spoil for several years? From where did the bees learn the art of honey-making? Who could have possibly given an insect the ability to produce such a sweet golden syrup which is considered a superfood not just for humans but for some animals as well? Who has created these tiny intelligent and smart creatures? Who inspires them? And if the creatures are so amazing, how amazing can their Creator be? What are the signs hidden underneath the presence of honeybees?



All of these questions are pointing to the Creator whose Attributes the honeybees manifest. The presence of honeybees should compel us to pause for a while and ponder on the amazing skills which their Creator has bestowed them with. The Almighty has created them for a purpose, and that purpose is much bigger than the production of honey. The purpose is to engage man to use his critical ability and question the existence of their Creator, the Creator of the world and the universe, and to recognize the might of the Almighty, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, the Bestower, and the Best of Fashioners. He is the One who has inspired the bees with the knowledge and art of producing honey. The fact that honeybees are connected to the sun and the flowers points out to their interconnectedness with nature. This interconnectivity illustrates that the Maker of one thing is the Maker of everything. The fact that all honeybees behave in similar ways bears testimony to the Divine Unity and Oneness. Thus, apart from the exoteric meaning, the bees depict an esoteric meaning behind their existence within which are hidden the answers for those who think, ponder, and question.


Honeybees are a very sweet gift indeed. We have a lot of moral lessons to learn from them. They are the best example of a teamwork. They teach us the value of consistent hard work and perseverance. The queen bee displays leadership qualities and the worker bees follow her dutifully. Quite interestingly, worker bees choose a new queen if the old queen bee becomes weak or disappears for some reason because it is only under her supervision that all bees can perform their duties properly. The complex anatomy of a honeybee, the environmental role it plays, the astonishing process of honey making, and much more, manifest the signs of their Creator who is Merciful enough to bestow us with this amazing gift. These are all signs for those who wish to ponder and are eager to learn the Divine Truth. When we learn the esoteric meaning behind their existence, we realize the power of the Almighty and succumb our ego to Him. The acknowledgement of the All Powerful makes us humble and reminds us to stay grounded. It teaches us to be kind and compassionate towards our fellow creatures.

For further appreciation of honeybees as amazing architecture, we recommend the following youtube video:


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