Bee's culture

Honey is a sweet and natural food produced not only by the well-known species Apis mellifera, but also by other hymenopters.

Specimens of these social species produce such a delicious substance for mainly two reasons: as a food storage for the time of need and as a starting ingredient for beeswax elaboration, which is indispensable for the construction of honeycomb hexagonal cells.

 

Bees produce honey using flower nectar, plant secretions or substances excreted by sucking insects living on plants. Honey thus represents the re-elaboration of fresh and natural substances into a long-life product.

 

Honey is a snapshot of biodiversity, meaning the diversity of the organisms living in the environment in which bees harvest nectar and pollen.

For this reason, it is more appropriate to talk about honey varieties because a single honey does not exist. Such varieties range from mono-floral to mixed-flower honey, from fast-crystallizing to slow-crystallizing honey.

In general, simple sugar molecules like fructose and glucose (their proportions vary depending on the type of nectar and on the flower) reach up to 80% of honey composition. Moreover, water represents 17% of the mixture and the remaining 3% is composed of nitrogenous substances, mineral salts, organic acids, polyphenols and aromatic compounds.

 

No additional nutrient or other substance enters in honey composition. Honey is a pure and natural product elaborated by bees.

Honey: a cradle of natural precious crystals

Each honey crystallizes with a specific timing, depending on its sugar composition. Without taking into account exceptional cases, this natural long-life product is kept in a viscous state while inside the honeycombs. Then, after the man-mediated extraction, it undergoes a unique transformation: a natural process of crystallization. Glucose microcrystals start to form and slowly turn into the grains of different sizes that we feel on our palate. Every honey, sooner or later, changes because of the natural evolution of its components. Among the different honey varieties, we can find those with a slower crystallization, like acacia, chestnut and forest honey. Other honey types become compact in a short time after their extraction, for example dandelion or sunflower. These products, shortly after the removal of the cappings from the top of the honeycombs, tend to form crystals. Thus, each honey has a destiny and a precise crystallization time. Consumers show a major demand on the market toward non-crystallized honey types. Unfortunately, this leads to the purchase of transformed products, issued from pasteurization processes. Such products stay liquid and viscous longer but they lose their most noble components and consequently their best properties.

How to decorate a dessert with sunflower honey then? How to spread dandelion honey on a slice of toasted bread? How to caramelize radicchio chicory in rhododendron honey? That’s simple! You can heat the quantity of product you need at bain marie and your recipes will get the success they deserve!

Honey tasting - 30 g are sufficient for each taste. Such quantity has to be poured in a 150 ml balloon glass. In this way, we can observe the sample, starting the tasting with a visual analysis. Each honey presents peculiar characteristics, showing different tones and shades, from amber to ivory, from intense yellow to caramel. After this first step, it is necessary to smell the product. In order to facilitate the olfactory analysis, honey has to be spread on the internal surface of the glass with the help of a teaspoon. In this way, our nose is able to embrace honey scent in a better way.

And now the tasting - This step has to be separated into two different moments: the olfactory-and-taste examination and the tactile analysis. For the first one, it is necessary to focus on the aroma, on the taste and on the persistency of honey, whereas for the second analysis it is important to concentrate on the perception of its consistency in the mouth. Each honey is different from the others. For this reason, in some cases, we perceive a particularly intense aroma while in other cases the flavour will be quite weak. The persistence as well varies depending on the type of honey. We can say the same about the consistency: during the tasting of a specific honey, our palate may not perceive any crystal, and, on the contrary, we will perceive a soft and velvety feeling. In other cases, our mouth will feel the presence of sugar grains. Over time, an expert palate will be able to recognize even the different types of crystals, which can be more or less homogeneous, more or less round, big, medium or small-sized. Taste after taste, a connection is made between our memory and specific honey characteristics. However, it is important to take a break between one tasting and the following, simply by drinking a glass of water or by eating a slice of apple, as recommended by many.

Pollen is the only protein intake for the entire beehive. Proteins, lipids, amino acids, sterols, vitamins and minerals are the components of pollen and are necessary to the good development of the different organisms composing a bee family. Worker bees’ larvae and drones’ larvae, from their third day of life, are fed with pollen, just as the bees producing royal jelly.

To harvest pollen from different plant varieties, bees adopt several techniques depending on the harvested species. In some cases they bite pollen containers, the anthers, while in other cases they cover their body with pollen by slightly touching the inflorescences. When they reach their goal, bees specialised in pollen harvest stock it on their third pair of legs. They form proper bullets of pollen granules kept together by a drop of nectar placed by the bee itself to ensure the transport towards the beehive.

From the flower to the beehive, from the flower to the table

When they come back to the hive, bees specialised in pollen harvest get rid of the bullet of pollen granules thanks to a bump on their second leg. Then, the young bees waiting for this loot bother to get it into the appropriate cells.

The best approach in beekeeping ensures that the products we consume are elements that can be shared by bees. This is done in order to prevent the suffering of the beehive, which could be caused by the subtraction of nutrients and supplies.  Pollen is thus an almost entirely vegetal product, bees only enriching it with the inclusion of nectar.

Many studies give evidence to the importance of pollen consumption, revealing that it is not only a good tonic, but also an excellent enemy of cardiovascular diseases, an efficient protector for liver and a powerful antiviral and antibacterial agent.

Royal jelly 

It derives from a secretion of a group of elements by some glands of attendant bees, aged between 5 and 15 days. Inside the beehive all the larvae, during their first 3 days of life, consume this food, which, instead, is the only one destined to the queen. Indeed, both at the larval and at the adult stage, she is uniquely fed with this precious product. However, royal jelly content can vary: the percentages of the elements composing it change depending on its final use. A royal jelly destined to worker bee breeding is different from the royal jelly provided to the queens. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that, when the components percentages change, the nutritional value of royal jelly varies as well. This parameter decreases with the progression of larval stages.

Royal jelly can be described as a whitish emulsion with light grey shades, it shows a gelatinous consistency and it is very acid at the taste. By being the result of the secretions produced by two different types of glands, royal jelly carries a high protein content derived from hypopharyngeal gland activity and a high sugar content because of mandibular gland activity. The composition of royal jelly includes several elements such as water, nitrogenous compounds, sugars, lipids, mineral salts, enzymes and vitamins. An aura of mystery surrounds this rich and precious product because 1% of its components still has to be identified.

Royal jelly action triggers neuro-psychic activity, metabolism, skin elasticity and ovary activity. In addition, it guarantees a support against coronary heart diseases, myocardial diseases, anaemias, asthenias and duodenal ulcer.

Propolis

is a natural product derived from bees’ direct elaboration. It is a resinous substance obtained, between others, from pine, fir and poplar buds.

Bees mix this substance with their salivary secretions, rich in enzymes.

Our product is available in liquid form or either as drop and spray dispenser, both with and without alcohol.

Taste and flavour

Propolis dye is recognizable by its intense, pungent and persistent taste. It reminds the encounter between resin and honey, giving a pleasant sensation to the throat.

Use instructions

Spray: 2 nebulisations, 4 times a day.

Drops: 30 drops, 3 times a day, diluted in water.

Properties

Propolis is considered a natural antibiotic because the ingredients composing it have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, skin-healing and local anaesthetic properties.

Propolis is recommended in case of inflammatory diseases of primary airways (nose, pharynx and throat). It is useful for prevention but also for the treatment of flu and cold-linked sicknesses.

Since the ancient times, propolis has been used in dermatology, to cure skin diseases and to promote healing. Thanks to its antibacterial action, it is useful in the treatment of gastro-intestinal inflammations as gastritis, ulcers and biliary tract diseases.

LE QUERCE s.n.c. di Perino Filippo & C.
Regione Vigna Granda, 2 - 10010 - Azeglio (TO) Italia
+39 0125 727415
+39 3476580854
info@apicolturalequerce.it
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