Nectar is the sugary liquid found in flowers. While the ratios can vary, nectar is generally 55% sucrose, 21% fructose, and 24% glucose. Basically, it’s the fruit punch of the plant world. Nectar is produced in a gland. [Who knew plants had glands?!!?]
Nectar as food
Other plants use nectar as payment to mutualistic animals and insects that attack the plant’s enemies. The glands that produce nectar as a food for these beneficial insects and other animals is physically separate from the flower. They are called extrafloral nectaries. Bats, hummingbirds, butterflies, lady beetles, moths, wasps, ants, and bees all eat nectar. They also chase off, attack, and kill insect herbivores and seed easters that may threaten this easy food source. As these beneficials move from flower to flower, feeding on nectar, they can also carry pollen and improve pollination rates.
Nectar to honey
Honey bees collect nectar and use it to make honey. Nectar has a much higher water content (60-80%) than honey (20% or less). Honey bees “ripen” the nectar by mixing it with enzymes in their abdomen. Then they regurgitate it and fan it with their wings to evaporate the water.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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