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Honey, Wild Flowers And Healing Plants Of Greece

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Honey is made by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when fresh food resources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their supply of energy. By contriving for bee swarms to nest in artificial hives, people have been capable of semi-domesticate the insects and harvest excess honey.

In the hive there are three kinds of bee: a single female queen bee, a seasonally variable number of male drone bees to fertilize new queens and some 20,000 - 40,000 female worker bees. The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. Leaving the hive, they collect sugar-rich flower nectar and return. In the process, they release Nasonov pheromones. These pheromones lead other bees to rich nectar sites by "smell" Honeybees also release Nasonov pheromones at the entrance to the hive, which enables returning bees to return to the proper hive.

In the hive the bees use their "honey stomachs" to ingest and regurgitate the nectar several times until it's partially digested. The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation and digestion until the product reaches a desired quality. It is then stored in honeycomb cells. After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. However, the nectar continues to be high in both water content and natural yeasts which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment. The process continues as bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb which enhances evaporation of much of the water from the nectar. This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper, has an extended shelf life and will not ferment if properly sealed.

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