HOW DOES A BEE MAKE HONEY ?
The bee that actually makes honey is the worker bee. It collects two different kinds of food- nectar and pollen. It either collects nectar or pollen on separate trips. Worker bees travel anywhere between 1 to 6 kilometer radius to forage for nectar and pollen.
HOW MUCH HONEY DOES A WORKER BEE COLLECT DURING HER LIFETIME?
A worker bee will collect less than a gram of honey in her lifetime depending on how close the access to nectar is. Typically it would be 1/12 teaspoon of honey which is 0.59 grams.
HOW DOES A WORKER BEE COLLECT NECTAR ?
She sucks nectar from a flower using her long hollow tongue called proboscis and sends it to her special expandable sac called ‘honey stomach’ that stores the nectar until she gets to her hive. She has a separate stomach for digestion.
On one single trip a honey bee will collect nectar from anywhere between 50-100 flowers and will make up 20 trips per day if the distance she has to travel is short. She can transfer the nectar from her honey stomach to her own stomach for sustenance when she feels low on energy.
A BEE COLLECTS POLLEN? HOW? WHY?
FIRSTLY, WHY DO BEES COLLECT POLLEN?
Pollen from flowers is precious package made of protein, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, and minerals for the larva. Without pollen, the larva would die. The workers bees are responsible to collect pollen to take back to the hive.
HOW DO BEES COLLECT POLLEN?
The worker bee has spiky hair on her hind legs that are called pollen baskets or corbiculae. When she alights on the anther of a flower, the pollen gets attached to the hair in her eyes and body, she uses her fore legs in tandem and brushes the pollen back. In this process, a little nectar become part of the pollen to enable the pollen to cake. The pollen is eventually brushed right back into a smooth hollow surface surrounded by hair called corbiculae on her hind legs. In this photo, the orange mound on the bees legs is the pollen she has collected
HOW MUCH POLLEN DOES A BEE COLLECT PER TRIP ?
A worker bee collects up to 1/3rd of her weight in pollen. She never carries both nectar and pollen at the same time. If you look at her closely, the pollen are now pellets loaded on her hind legs. She then carries the load to the hive and deposits it into a specific cell in the honeycomb. She then cleans herself completely before setting off to forage some more and repeats the process every time she deposits pollen into her hive.
WHAT IS BEE BREAD?
The pollen is stored in the brood comb. The fresh pollen is fed to the young. Considering that the internal temperature of the hive is 32-35 degrees Celsius, there is a real danger that pollen not consumed can get mould on them. So, the worker bees ferment the pollen to preserve it for a longer period of time. The bee adds honey into a cell that is three quarters filled with pollen and then caps the cell. This is bee bread and comes in handy to keep the bees fed during winter. Fascinating, isn’t it?
IS BEE BREAD GOOD FOR HUMAN HEALTH?
Bee Pollen and Bee Bread is harvested from the brood comb of the hive and is consumed by people.
Bee bread is also called Bee Ambrosia. It is said to strengthen and address disorders of the immune system, cardiovascular system, nervous system, muscular system, hepatic system and digestive system. It is used to treat gastric and prostate cancers and helps in the body’s recovery from radiation and chemotherapy. It is also used to treat loss of libido or fertility issues.
“It contains over one hundred species of fungi, over eighty yeast types, over forty species of bacteria, as well as everything that is found in collected pollen from flowers: proteins, vitamins and minerals. it is rich in high quality protein, all essential amino acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins B as well as vitamins K, E, D and C. It is especially rich in vitamin P (Rutin), provitamin A (βcarotene), various minerals and oligoelements (especially potassium and iron), essential oils, enzymes, pigments and other biologically active natural substances. As a result of the perfect balance in nature, bee bread is the only known natural food containing all the essential nutrients that a perfectly healthy human body requires.”
HOW TO CONSUME BEE BREAD OR BEE POLLEN
The flavour bee bread is sweet with a tang. It is generally recommended to begin with 1.8 tsp of bee bread/bee pollen and consume it directly. You can gradually increase the dosage to 1 tsp. ideally, do not eat or for at least an hour after consuming bee bread to benefit fully from it. If you are consuming bee bread post breakfast, then do so after one hour.
While in some cultures around the world raw honey and pollen is consumed without any restrictions, it is still recommended to be cautious in certain circumstances. Bee bread should not be consumed by people with pollen allergies or sensitivity to honey and should not be given to babies. Consult your ayurvedic doctor for advice specific to your need.
HOW AND WHEN DOES NECTAR FROM A FLOWER BECOME HONEY ?
As the worker bee is visiting flower after flower collecting nectar, the nectar in her honey stomach is being broken down by the release of enzymes.
When her honey stomach is full she returns to the hive and delivers her load to an indoor bee. Within the hive the nectar is passed on from bee to bee until it can be deposited into a cell within the honeycomb. Each bee that carries the honey breaks down the honey by adding enzymes to it making the nectar thicker.
The moisture content drops from 70% to around 20% by the time the honey reaches the cell. The temperature in the honeycomb is 32.5 degrees Celsius. The honey bees beat their wings to dry the newly deposited honey until the moisture content drops to 18.6% or less and then they cap off the honey with wax.
This is how the worker bee makes honey.
Colours of Raw Honey
If you are familiar with different varieties of Raw Honey, you will note that the colour of raw honey can range from the colour of water, white honey, light golden amber, orangey amber, reddish amber, brown, medium brown, dark brown and finally almost black. The colour of raw honey is dependent on the floral source. And in the case of trees that flower throughout the year, the colour of the honey would vary depending the season the nectar was collected by the bee.
The presence of pollen, weather conditions and age of honey. Acacia honey starts off as the colour of water and over time turns light golden amber. Clover honey ranges from a golden amber to orangey amber, Neem honey is a dark brown, Tulsi honey is a golden brown, Black Forest honey a very dark brown, one might say it is almost black. Our Meadow honey is reddish amber.
Flavours of Raw Honey
Lighter raw honey varietals generally speaking have simple, light and delicate flavours. Acacia is mild, light floral with hints of vanilla. As the honey grows darker the flavour profile becomes more complex.
Which Honey is more Beneficial to Health?
The darker honeys tend to have a higher concentration of minerals and higher antioxidant levels that include enzymes, flavonoids and phenolic acids, that fight free radicals.