bee About Honey bee

Since the earliest of days honey has been a source of food and energy. From the first food-gatherers to the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans - records show the value of the bees and their honey.

Honey sold in shops comes from honeybees. The honeybee (Apis mellifera) was introduced to Australia in 1810 by Samuel Marsden who imported an unknown number of colonies from England although it is also reported that he brought the two (2) hives from Rio De Janerio not England.  The early settlers attempted to use the honeybees for pollination of fruit trees but the first attempts to establish bee colonies failed. A second successful introduction was made in 1822.

The honeybee is a most amazing insect. Its family (hive) consists of:

  • workers
  • drones
  • a Queen Bee
Bees collect nectar, pollen and water each day to take back to the hive so that future generations can live. The raw nectar comes from flowers. They mix this with secretions from their glands, thereby transforming it and after it is deposited in the comb, it ripens into honey.

Honey is primarily of vegetable origin. Its sugars are formed by a mixture of the sun, water and carbon dioxide in the air.

Bees produce:

  • honey - to provide food reserves for the hive
  • beeswax - to make honeycomb (traditionally used for candles and cosmetics
  • pollen - to nurture their young (which when dried and preserved is a valuable nutrient
  • propolis - to seal their hive from wind and rain (which can be used as an antiseptic)
  • bee venom (which can be used to relieve arthritic and rheumatic pains).

Honey is a quick, safe and natural energy giver because its simple sugars are quickly absorbed into the blood stream. Honey contains many vitamins and minerals.

Honey is made up of:

  • natural sugars 80% (mainly levulose, dextrose and glucose)
  • moisture 17%
  • mineral traces 3%
There are many recipes which use honey for flavour - there are probably more than 100 different ways honey can add flavour to a food.

The bee's value however is not confined to making honey. Honeybees also help our fruit and vegetables grow. Without bees trees and flowers may not make fruit, nuts or seeds and there would be no honey. Bees, orchards and market gardens are an essential part of our food chain.

When the bee gathers nectar her body becomes dusted with pollen. As she moves from flower to flower the pollen passes from male to female stigma and cross-pollination (or fertilization) takes place which leads to new seeds and plant regeneration.

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