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A Bee's Work: From Flower to Honey
|Nectar: the Sweetness of the Forest
All flowering plants secrete nectar, a substance rich in sugars and very attractive to many animals. The nectar is composed of around 20% water and 80% sugar. That is the prize that animals receive for pollinating the flower; for seed production, plants need their pollen to reach the flower of another plant of the same species, finding their best friends in insects some birds, and bats.
Native Bees and Wasps vs. Domesticated Bees
Not only bees produce honey. Although all are related, there are a variety of bees and wasps that build hives to store the honey that feeds it, produced from nectar as pollen. Although there are about 30 thousand species of bees in the world, the best known is the domestic or European (Apis mellifera), as has been managed by humans for a long time. In some parts of the country there is an ancient tradition of gathering wild honey, it has been found to have a delicious variety of flavors and textures that are completely dependent on time of year harvested, geographical location and species of flowers visited.
The Aromas and Flavors of Honey
For its color, texture and flavor, there have been 7 different types of honey noted. The difference is that beekeepers collect and "blend" all the honey from different hives and different species, homogenizing the flavor and texture to what is commonly known as "honey." However, to distinguish between different species of bees native or introduced and knowing the types of flowers that bees visit, the color and flavor can vary greatly. Although Mexico has a vast knowledge of the honey crop, only in the Yucatan Peninsula do they maintain a tradition of collecting the honey and keeping it separate, as the ancient Mayans did.
And What about the "African" Bees?
Actually, the correct name is "Africanized" because this species is a hybrid between European and African bees, that arrived in Brazil in 1956 after escaping mixed with the European variety, arrived in Mexico in 80's. The vast majority of bees in "wild" honeycombs (which are not controlled by humans) are Africanized bees. This species is also productive, but has a much more aggressive behavior (or rather "defenses"); what has been characterized as a high hazard in urban environments, it can be altered and attack with the simple passage of a person or animal close to the hive, or the simple noise of a lawnmower, and so on.
Since then, beekeepers and the government itself have had to improve their management practices, in addition to nationwide practices used to introduce queens into the apiary (bee colonies that are controlled by humans) to genetically improve pure European varieties of bee, to restore these colonies to be less aggressive.
But How Honey is Produced?
Bees fly daily in search of nectar and pollen at distances from 500 meters to 6 kilometers. Once they have collected sufficient nectar and pollen they fly back to the hive, where they deliver their "cargo" to other bees that manage the storage area, where they begin production of honey.
These bees "add" an enzyme they produce to the nectar, thus enabling sucrose contained in the nectar to be converted into glucose and fructose. Then it is placed into the familiar "cells" where the honey matures as it loses moisture and, once filled, covered with wax, then is sealed and ready for use as food. This is the moment when man removes the honeycomb, forcing the bees to continue working tirelessly to produce more and more honey.