If you know what supplies you need for beekeeping, then you should also think about improving the pasturage. This aspect is directly related to the quality of the resulting honey, and you can improve it by planting honey cultures, such as sunflower ones, or even by adding bushes and honey trees around water areas, for bees to use for shade and protection.
As you probably already know, bees are crucial for our own survival, given that they play a major role in agriculture. They have two important roles: pollinating flowers that are further used in various processes, and making honey. On the other hand, some of us might not be aware that the two are very closely related.
We all know that honey can come in different flavors and that these are determined by the fields that particular hives pollinate, but there is another layer to this story, namely that of quality. The honey that bees produce comes with multiple benefits for our health, but its potency depends on the quality of the pollen and nectar that bees use in the process.
In order to understand the relationship between the two elements – pollen and nectar – that determine the honey’s quality, we should take a closer look at how the production process of the marvelous and delicious honey. But first, let’s see what honey actually is.
A few words about honey
You might find it in the supermarket, nicely arranged in jars on shelves, but honey is what bees are supposed to eat during winter. For this reason, the insects need to make sure that their food is of the highest quality, especially since there are no flowers that they can use to get all the necessary nutritional benefits to make it through the cold season.
That’s why they make great efforts and travel long distances to find pollen and nectar of the highest quality. Of course, if the nearby fields are rich in healthy flowers, then this effort is not necessary, and they can concentrate their efforts on producing honey instead of foraging far away.
You might ask yourself how do bees use pollen and nectar to get the job done. The process is a rather complex one, so we are not going to get into all of the details, but what’s important to keep in mind is that they eat pollen, as this given them proteins and other nutrients that are crucial for their health and development.
As for nectar, this element is responsible for their energy. Pollen is a light yellow powder that sticks to a bee’s legs, which means that it’s also carried from one flower to the other. This is the pollination process that everyone is talking about, and while it might seem like an easy thing, it’s crucial for our own survival.
Once the bees return to the hive, they do something that might sound rather disgusting for some people, but that is, in fact, a key aspect of the honey production process. They regurgitate some of the nectar and pollen that they have eaten, and this step ensures that it’s mixed with enzymes from the little worker’s own saliva.
The resulting solution is left to dehydrate for a while, and the result is high-quality and long-lasting honey that gets stored in the well-known honeycomb cells, as these get covered with beeswax caps.
The pollination process
Pollination is responsible for both fertilizing flowers and for ensuring their diversity, which in turn means their (and our) survival. We know that the little yellow insects might seem tiny compared to a human being, but the job that they are doing is crucial, so we must do everything we need to protect them and the fields they use for foraging.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of simply buying a hive off the internet and placing it in your backyard, as this might not be beneficial for the local bee population. In fact, if you want to do your best to protect bees, you can start by growing flowers and creating spaces that they can use to forage and hide around your property.
If you want to do more than this, you should look into what bee species live in your area and try to talk to some local specialists. They will be the ones to give you all the information you need on how to keep your own hive without hindering any local bees, or maybe even choosing a type of bees that are already living there.
Benefits of honey
We all know the sweet-tasting substance produced by bees, but what our ancestors knew all too well is the fact that it comes with many nutrients and that it can be used for curative purposes. In fact, cave drawings that are around 8,000 years old and that show people extracting honey have been discovered.
Many times it’s said that our ancestors knew more than we do from certain points of view, and in this case, it might be true. Nevertheless, there are many people today that are also advocating for the benefits of eating honey, so it’s a great thing that this part of their knowledge was not lost in modern times.
This great substance is also used by bees in various ways. We’ve already mentioned that it’s their main source of food during the winter months, but honey is also used for feeding hatching larvae that need all the support they can get during the first stages of their lives.
One curious thing when it comes to this is that bee larvae that have been chosen to become queens are not fed honey, but royal jelly. This is a substance that the queen itself eats, so you can only imagine that it’s fairly more special. In fact, royal jelly is known for helping both the queen and the queens-to-be develop at a much faster rate.
If you think that queens have it easy, the truth is that they need to lay up to 2,000 eggs per day, which is also why they need to be on average twice the size of a regular worker bee.
Those of you who are not familiar with various terms used around agriculture and beekeeping might not be sure what pasturage actually is. In this context, the term defines plants that produce both nectar and pollen, and that bees can use to produce their honey. Of course, we’re talking about a wide variety of floral pasturage, which means that honey also comes in various flavors and textures.
Since we’ve already mentioned that the quality of the honey depends on the pasturage, it’s important to take a closer look at what substances bees use and then produce, in order to better understand the entire process. Pollen provides these hard-working insects with all their amino acid requirements, as well as with vitamins and minerals.
Propolis, on the other hand, is a resinous substance mainly gathered from tree bark, such as chestnuts, alder, or wounds of various woody plants. The substance itself is used for a very practical purpose, namely that of sealing up potential cracks in the nest or reducing the size of the entrance.
On the other hand, propolis is also known for containing more than 300 substances, 55% of these being balms and resins, 30% wax, 10% consists of etheric oil, while 5% is actually pollen. Many people use propolis for curative purposes, and they rightly do so. This product contains every type of known vitamins, except for vitamin K, as well as 15 minerals that our bodies need.
How can you improve the pasturage?
If you are looking for ways to improve the pasturage that bees in your area use for foraging, there are several ways to attain this. You can start out by seeding agricultural honey cultures, as well as planting bushes and honey trees around. In terms of agricultural cultures, you can take a look at sunflower or red clover ones.
The honey trees and bushes that you might consider planting should be placed around water sources, besides roads, and in other similar areas where bees might use them for protection. You can also prolong the blooming period by planting flowers in several phases, as long as the weather conditions allow them to flourish and, thus, be useful for bees and their honey.