Where Does Honey Come From?
Where Does Honey Come From?

Video: Where Does Honey Come From?

Video: Where Does Honey Come From?
Video: How Do Bees Make Honey? 2023, March

The path by which the nectar (sweet aromatic liquid), collected by the worker honeybees from the fresh flowers, goes before it turns into natural honey in the hive is long and difficult. And it ends when the bees fill the wax cells with honey to the top, seal them with wax caps (to protect from moisture and clogging), after which the flower honey ripens for another month and a half and is able to persist for many years.

In addition to nectar honey (from flowers), bees can produce honey from honeydew ("honeydew"), which is obtained after processing the sweet secretions of herbaceous aphids, beetles, whiteflies, worms and other insects that deposit them on the leaves and other parts of trees and bushes. During the summer season, a bee colony is able to collect up to 150 kg of honey. When purchasing flower honey, we see its various names, but we do not even assume how it was obtained, how the "bouquet" of its intoxicating scent is formed, we do not know how we can preserve the aroma of this wonderful product of Nature longer.

Please note that distinguish honey monoflerny (nectar of one type of honey-) and poliflerny(from nectar from various plants combined). Theoretically, it is believed that there can be as many monofloral varieties of honey as there are types of honey plants. They are especially possible from such melliferous plants as acacia, linden, sunflower, clover, chestnut, sweet clover, rapeseed, and some others. But, according to experts, absolutely monofloral honey varieties are practically extremely rare (they can be obtained from several types of melliferous plants growing on vast tracts). However, in fact, there are no pure monofloral honey varieties, since the nectar of the main honey plant, as a rule, always contains impurities of the nectar of other honey plants flowering at this time. For this reason, monofloral varieties are usually considered to be those in which the nectar of any one honey plant predominates.

To designate one or another type of honey, it is enough that the nectar of one plant predominates in it, for example, the nectar of fireweed in fireweed honey. Small impurities of the nectar of extraneous melliferous plants insignificantly affect the specific aroma, color and taste of this type of honey. The most common types of honey are linden, buckwheat, clover, wild rosemary, heather, willow, melilot, sunflower, angelica. Polyfloral varieties include meadow, steppe, forest, fruit (fruit), mountain taiga honey. Honey varieties are also distinguished by the region where it is harvested (lime honey, for example, of Far Eastern or Bashkir origin), or by the method of obtaining and processing - honeycomb or centrifugal (drain). Cellular honey goes to the consumer in its natural form (in sealed combs),drain - by centrifuging the printed combs that do not contain brood.

The quality and taste of honey depends, first of all, on the properties of nectar, which contains water (up to 75%), fructose and glucose, sucrose, minerals and biologically active substances (vitamins, hormones, enzymes) in various proportions. Nectar is secreted by special glandular organs of plants (nectaries), differing in location (flowering and extra flowering). Flowering nectaries are usually located at the base of the flower and in other parts of it, while extra-flowering nectaries are located on leaves, stipules and at the base of the leaf blade. In their structure and functions, both types of nectaries do not differ significantly: they are convex or concave in shape and represent swellings, pits, grooves. According to some researchers, the main purpose of nectaries in plants is to regulate the supply of nutrient juices to the young parts of the plant (leaves, branches,flowers), and at the end of plant development, their supply does not stop, they are little consumed, due to which they appear in nectaries in the form of nectar. Others believe that the release of nectar (its main constituents are water and sugar) is associated with osmotic pressure in the conducting system of plants: nectar release is a regulator of sugar content.

But we admit: the main thing is that it is thanks to the nectar release that plants attract pollinating insects, and we have honey. The nectar productivity and the sugar content in it are influenced by internal (properties of the plant itself) and external (environmental conditions) factors. The characteristics of a plant include its size, age and phase of flower development, the size of the surface of the nectary, the position of flowers in the plant, plant species, variety and others.

The flower releases a different amount of nectar depending on the phase of its development; it is most nectar-productive in the phase of pollination. At the beginning and in the middle of flowering, plants release more nectar than at the end. The flowers closer to the top of the plant produce less nectar, but the sugar content is higher. Nectar production even depends on gender and plant variety. For example, different varieties of rapeseed, sunflower and fruit trees emit different amounts of nectar. After pollination, the nectar productivity of the flower decreases or stops.

The greatest value is honeycomb honey. Sealed in honeycombs, it stays in a liquid state longer and is not afraid of sudden changes in temperature, it comes to a person in a purer form, in a natural container, in a completely mature and sterile state. Honeycomb honey is well stored both in frames and cut into pieces of different sizes and packed in plastic containers. It is valued higher than pumped out at a honey extractor. As a rule, comb honey can be purchased only in markets, at exhibitions, for example, at AgroRusi, from familiar beekeepers, since selling it in stores is usually not practiced.

Thus, comb honey is a honey-filled and sealed with wax lids cells. The consumer gets it not only in a natural container, but also in a very clean state (mature and sterile). After pumping out of the combs in a honey extractor, honey is considered centrifugal, and it is sold already packaged (in cans or by weight from large containers). Experts are able to identify individual varieties of honey by color, aroma and taste. Most varieties of natural honey have excellent taste and aroma properties.

They differ not only in color, but also in a huge set of the most diverse shades. According to some experts, light varieties are classified as first-class (best) varieties. Other researchers consider dark honey to be more valuable than light honey, as it contains more mineral salts (mostly copper, iron and manganese). For example, honey from white acacia, considered one of the best, is light, completely colorless (transparent like water), and the combs filled with this honey seem empty. If in liquid form it is transparent, then during crystallization (sugaring) it becomes white, fine-grained, reminiscent of snow. It contains 35.98% glucose and 40.35% levulose (fructose) - the sweetest sugar in nature (levulose is 2-2.5 times sweeter than glucose). The honey from the flowers of the yellow acacia is also considered to be of the highest quality; it is very light, medium grain,after sugaring it looks like white lard. From 1 hectare of fragrant flowers of white and yellow acacia bees produce 1,700 and 350 kg of honey, respectively.

The honey from the flowers of the common barberry is golden yellow, fragrant and delicate in taste. The ancient Babylonians and Indians already knew about the medicinal properties of the berries of this shrub (about the hemostatic ability and "blood purification"), as scientists were convinced by reading about it on clay tablets written more than 2600 years ago. All gardeners are familiar with the penetrating thistle (thistle) with thorny stems and grayish leaves, from the fragrant crimson flowers of which the bees get first-class honey (colorless, greenish, golden, with a pleasant aroma and taste, fine-grained after crystallization).

The secretion of nectar is influenced by many factors (temperature and humidity of the air, soil conditions, winds, number of sunny days, altitude of the area above sea level, agricultural conditions, season of the year, length of the day). If the atmospheric humidity is high, then the nectar productivity will be high, but the concentration of sugars in the nectar will be low. And vice versa: in dry weather, the amount of excreted nectar decreases sharply, and its sugar content increases. These dependencies are associated with the hygroscopicity of sugars - their ability to absorb moisture from the air and retain it. The optimum air humidity for nectar secretion by most plants ranges from 60 to 80%.

Temperature is an important factor for many honey plants: when it drops below 10 ° C, nectar production stops. The optimum temperature for nectar release is in the range of 10 … 30 ° C. The amount of sugars in the nectar is influenced by the water content in the soil, the fertilizers used, and the various methods of cultivating crops. For example, high agricultural technology with the introduction of optimal amounts of fertilizers stimulates an increase in the nectar productivity of plants, an increase in the number of flowers per plant and throughout the entire area. But excessive enthusiasm for the introduction of nitrogen fertilizers into the soil reduces nectar productivity, but potassium fertilizers, on the contrary, stimulate the release of nectar. Windy weather reduces and even stops nectar secretion.

In most plants, nectar production is characterized by a certain daily rhythm. The nectar produced at night tends to be more "watery". At different hours of the day, the content of nectar and sugars also changes: in the morning it is higher. The optimal combination of positively acting both internal and external factors contributes to the optimal nectar productivity of melliferous plants. It is known that nectar is an aqueous solution of sugars. It contains sucrose, glucose and fructose in various proportions. Their amount in nectar depends on the type of plant, the geographical latitude of the place, on the climate, soil and other conditions (varies from 3 to 80%). The nectars of most plants of the families of cruciferous, clove, redberry, beetroot, geranium contain mainly fructose and glucose,but there is little or no sucrose. But sucrose is rich in the nectar of many legumes (acacia, sainfoin, clover) and willow plants. It is very rare when there is more glucose than fructose (nectar of dandelion, rapeseed and pear).

The composition of the "honey bouquet" is also determined by the breed of bees, the type of honey plants and the phase of their flowering. It is believed that the honey from each hive smells differently. The smell of flowers is given by essential (aromatic) oils: transparent (colorless), and sometimes colored liquids. Their pantries are glandular spots on flower petals, glandular hairs on the epidermis of flowers and leaves, glands of various types. With the nectar, the flower essential oils enter the honey. Most of them are lighter than him and water. An observant person can notice them even on the surface of freshly pumped honey in the form of a film iridescent with all the colors of the rainbow. It disappears relatively quickly (evaporates or partially dissolves in honey). The density of essential oils (0.8-1.19 g / ml) is less than that of honey (1.41), in the upper part of the flask honey is always more aromatic than in the lower one. At temperatures above 15 ° C, the volatility of essential oils increases, which should be taken into account when storing honey. And many of their components are oxidized by atmospheric oxygen, especially in light and when heated, as a result of which the smell and color of oils change, which also transforms the aroma of honey.

Lipoaceae, umbellate, cruciferous, rosaceous, rue, asteraceae and some other plant families are characterized by a high content of essential oils, and essential oils of rosemary, oleander, andromeda, rhododendron, azalea endow honey with toxic properties. So, in the composition of essential oil of wild rosemary, ice was found, which has an irritating effect and causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This oil depresses the central nervous system, causes weakness, vomiting.

In honey, there are several dozen carriers of odors with various individual "contributions" of their individual compounds to the overall aroma. They all change with fluctuations in humidity, acidity, heating and storage.

The aromatization of nectar in the flower and honey in the hive is reduced due to the very hot weather during honey harvest. Overheating of solid honey during blooming can cause it to caramelize with the smell of burnt sugar and loss of the original aroma. Smelling alcohols decrease their volatility when the acidity of honey increases, which contributes to a longer preservation of the aroma of plants (for example, honey from coriander or linden). The very acidity of honey is determined by gluconic acid, which is formed during the oxidation of glucose with the participation of the enzyme glucoxidase, produced by the pharyngeal glands of bees. The amount of this enzyme and its activity depend on the breed of bees, therefore, the intensity of the smell of honey from the same plant, but collected by bees of different breeds, is not the same. The aroma of honey with a lot of water is weaker than that of mature honey.

An experienced beekeeper easily distinguishes freshly pumped honey from the one that has stood for 2-3 days, since odor-carrying substances evaporate during storage, are absorbed by the container material. With increasing temperature in the storage, dearomatization proceeds more intensively. The same reasons explain the superiority of the aroma of combed honey over pumped out honey. In closed containers, aromatic substances can be adsorbed by rubber liners of flasks or polymeric materials of containers. Therefore, to preserve the aroma of honey, it is necessary to create conditions close to storage in combs. The inner surface of the container, including the lid, should preferably be treated with molten wax; containers with honey must be filled to the top and closed tightly. The smell of fresh honey persists for a long time if its surface is covered with wax paper. The aroma plays an important role in the sale of honey. The pungent smell of honey from coriander, mustard, colza, rapeseed, onion does not attract everyone, despite its usefulness. The pleasant smell of honey from phacelia, bruise, meadow and forest herbs, linden, raspberries, buckwheat contributes to the constant demand for it.

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