I haven’t really written about this per se, I think some people know that I’ve been working on this since I was in Senegal (2012) and found “Plants for Arid Lands” published by International Bee Research Association on the bookshelf which had a small chapter Bees and Honey in the Exploitation of Arid Land Resources by Eva Crane. Through more and more literature review and a cross-referencing local plant databases/writings with known nectar sources I’ve gotten to have a pretty comprehensive list going.
So a little background. There are 7 species of the 200,000 bees that specifically produce honey in massive amounts. These we call honey bees or Apis mellifera. There are races of these that have been breed over time. Much like we have races of humans, we are all still people, we all come from certain places making us identify with those locations and in some cases even have specialized characteristics. Example of races in honey bees would be Italian (A. mellifera ligustica), Carniolan (A. mellifera carnica), Caucasian/Russian (A. mellifera caucasica) and African (A. mellifera adansonii)
|From Tropical and Subtropical Apiculture (1986) FAO|
Evolutionary plants have created flowers to attract pollinators to increase fertilization and thus dissemination of themselves. Nectar within the flowers assists in attracting certain pollinators, such as honey bees, to visit the flower taking pollen and transferring it to the stigma, or female part, in order to create a seed. Nectar us a sugar-rich liquid produced by glands called nectaries. Bees use nectar, mixing it with an enzyme in their ‘honey stomach’ to create honey once it’s stored in wax comb, water content is evaporated to below 18.2 percent and is capped with wax. Honey is the main food source for bees in the hive.
needed for rearing one worker bee from larval to adult stage requires approximately 120-145 mg of pollen. An average bee colony will collect about 20-57 kg (44-125 pounds) of pollen a year. By natural instinct, bees will collect only the best entomophily pollen grains that are higher in nutritional value.
for its antimicrobial, immunostimulant, and antioxidant properties which vary due to location in which it is procured based on plant sources in the area.
So based on region, in any given place there are bees (everywhere except Antarctica and the South Pole) there are only 250-300 plants that bees are able to take nectar, pollen and propolis from. And given you need approximately one million blooms to produce one cup of honey, you need many many blooms of those given plants.
|Example of local nectar source list per Beekeeper Richard Underhill from his trip with Winrock International to East Africa|
So I have started collecting lists, as many as I can find and cross referencing them. Most are through scientific literature. Dr. Eva Crane (foremost researcher on honey bees) was no slouch, her Trust has 40,000 abstracts available to search along with her publishing 300 papers and many books over her lifetime. Others are found through beekeepers I’ve heard of or found through the wonderful place of the internet. Most beekeepers are amazing people who are willing to help out each other to further honey bees, habitat and generally overall goodness on the planet. Currently I have reviewed many many articles and journals, 22 of them have viable lists that I’m extracting, cleaning and adding to my main list. Then sorting, removing duplicates, verifying correct taxonomy (science of defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those groups as these tend to change over time especially with plants) and adding in any bloom dates, propagation information or nuance information of the plant.
After all of that, I would love to share it on a website such as Zooniverse, to further have citizen scientists help identify where the plants grow and the bloom pattern in that location, hopefully on a global scale. This information would then assist beekeepers, land owners, farmers, environmentalists, policy makers, and others to maintain and increase habitat and food sources world wide.Lack of knowledge is one thing, but in this day and age of information the world is becoming and smaller and smaller place. People want to help bees, I don’t believe we need more beekeepers, we need better beekeepers, farmers, stewards, with better information to make a better place for all of use.Currently my abstract for this project as been submitted and accepted to Apimondia (the international beekeeping conference), I am looking for support in order to attend and present my abstract in Daejeon, Korea in September. I have contacted various organizations for support as well, but is currently pending response.Please feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested in the information, I would love to collaborate further on it. Thank you for your time and support.
Literature Review for Complied List of Nectar, Pollen and Propolis Sources for Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) Throughout the World
Grenada, West Indies, Peace Corps, United States. firstname.lastname@example.org
journals to acquire a full list of nectar sources through-out the world. Dr. Crane’s work Important world honey sources and their geographical distribution. In Bees and Beekeeping: Science, Practice and World Resources is very valuable but with more citizen scientists and new publications, more and more work is slowly being done in this area and is important to capture, share and use to create more pollinator habitat and to inform public and private partners.
METHODOLOGY: Literature review and research documenting nectar, pollen, and propolis sources from world sources (i.e. Eva Crane) to location specific plants, trees and shrubs. If given bloom calendar information was provided also documented. RESULTS: Many publications have been found, researched and of those 22 of have been used and sited to comprise a list of 1600+ plants that are sources for nectar, pollen, propolis and honey dew. Some geographical and bloom calendar information has also been captured along with some local plant names. CONCLUSIONS: Ongoing research into this topic of plant sources of honey, pollen, propolis, and honeydew for bees is important to educate public, farmers, and government in conserve, create and increase honey bee habitat. Through identification, seeds can be saved, cuttings taken and education on how to best propagate for location specific uses. Local common names and bloom calendar will vary based on region, usage and language needs to be taken into consideration. I have also written a blog post further on this idea.