Nectar concentration is assumed to remain constant during transport by honeybees between flowers and hive. We sampled crop contents of nectar foragers on Aloe greatheadii var. davyana, a major winter bee plant in South Africa. The nectar is dilute (approx. 20% w/w), but the crop contents of bees captured on flowers are significantly more concentrated. In returning foragers, the concentration increases further to 38–40%, accompanied by a volume decrease. The doubling of sugar concentration suggests that nectar is regurgitated onto the tongue and evaporated during foraging and on the return flight. Processing of the dilute nectar into honey thus begins early, aided by low ambient humidities. This has implications for honeybee thermoregulation, water balance and energetics during foraging, and for the communication of nectar quality to recruits.