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From flowers to honey

The honey makers

A honeybee starts the honey making process by visiting a flower. It stretches out its tube like tongue and sucks up the sweet nectar from blossoms. The nectar goes into the bee’s `honey stomach’ or sac meant for storing honey. As the bee crawls into the flower in search of nectar, some yellow powder, called pollen, sticks to the bee’s hairy body. The pollen rubs off on flowers that the bee visits next.

 A flower needs pollen from another flower to make seeds, bees are therefore, very helpful. Bees keep some pollen for themselves. They mix it with a bit of nectar and carry it on their back legs. When the bee is fully loaded with nectar and pollen, it flies back to the hive. There the workers bees take the nectar from the bee’s `honey stomach’ and the pollen from its legs. In a few days time the nectar thickens into honey.

 Beekeeping and honey collection

Apiculture is the art of bee cultivation to get honey and wax. A place where beehives are kept is called an apiary.

 Honey is obtained from the honeycombs that the honeybees prepare. People collect honey from these honeycombs by smoking and driving the bees away. Other than honey, wax is also a useful product from these honeycombs.

 What is a beehive?

A beehive is a place where a bee colony dwells. You can see them sometimes hanging from the trees or in the corners of buildings.

 These days, honey can also be obtained artificially. Beehive boxes can be prepared artificially with honey extractors. The tightly closed box has a small entrance for bees. The box contains vertical frames. A frame can be removed on which the bees build honeycombs.

 Queen bees are available in the market. As long as the queen bee remains in the beehive, the worker bees continue with their honey collection work. Before disturbing a hive, a beekeeper blows smoke into it with a devise called a smoker. The smoke quietens the worker bees and makes them much less likely to sting. The bees are then removed by a devise similar to a vacuum clear. A machine called honey extractor is used to remove honey from the combs.

 Honey varies in taste and color depending on the type of flowers from which the nectar is gathered. One has to ensure that there are enough flowering plants from where the honeybees can obtain nectar.