“A shaggy bumblebee for fragrant hops …” is a romance based on Kipling’s poems in a famous performance each of us has ever heard. For the beauty of the picture and the picturesqueness of the image, we rarely think about why bumblebees sit on flower buds. It’s simple: these flying bright insects not only drink nectar to feed themselves, but also make honey. Bumblebee honey is one of the rare species, because insects produce it in very small quantities, and a limited number of beekeepers are engaged in breeding bumblebees and pumping out the product.
Where does honey come from?
Honey is collected by bumblebees. In wildlife, there are about three hundred species of these beneficial insects. Bumblebees are the same bees, only wild and ancient. Due to the biological peculiarity of maintaining a high body temperature, they are common even in the northern regions.
Another advantage of insects is an elongated proboscis, thanks to which the furry workaholic gets into the most “uncomfortable” corolla of flowers, the so-called moth. For example, clover nectar is not available to the domestic bee, but the bumblebee drinks it with pleasure. In such flowers, it is very liquid, more like a sweetish syrup, and these plants are considered the oldest on earth, that is, they accumulate a many-thousand-year genetic memory.
Bumblebees, like bees, carry nectar on their paws and abdomen, then ferment it into honey, which is used to feed the larvae and maintain the efficiency of the bombidarium – the bumblebee house. Unfortunately, these good-natured and helpful creatures live for a very short time (only one warm season), in small groups. Only fertilized females remain for the winter, the rest of the family dies. Females burrow into the ground and fall into suspended animation in order to lay offspring in early spring and resurrect bumblebee life. Therefore, the family does not need as much nectar as the bees, although one working bumblebee individual is able to pollinate twice as many plants in a minute as a bee.
Matriarchy reigns in the bumblebee family. All life obeys the uterus, she dominates the nest and takes care of the larvae. Drones build honeycombs, working bumblebees tirelessly carry nectar and pollen home in any weather.
What is different from bee?
In terms of chemical composition and appearance, bumblebee honey differs from bee honey. Without hesitation, it can be called unique, because bumblebee nectar is extracted from all flowering plants. It contains proteins, minerals (copper, cobalt, zinc), starch, water and bacteria.
The main differences from the bee:
- not sweet;
- easy to ferment.
The liquid consistency of the product is due to the fact that the bumblebee produces thin nectar.
Its low sweetness comes from the content of more water than in the bee counterpart.
A variety of flavors is obtained from the coverage of various flowering plants by the working females. For the same reason, it is impossible to say for sure which color is more in it.
It is astringent because it contains a large amount of pollen. Bumblebee does not “get dirty” with fermentation, long-term reserves are useless for him, therefore it gives out a more simplified product in its “primitive” form. This quality is also associated with the feature to ferment quickly (you need to store at a temperature not higher than plus 8 degrees).
What are the benefits and contraindications?
In medicine, bumblebee honey is successfully used in the treatment and prevention of:
- diseases of the respiratory system, including the bronchi and lungs;
- diseases of the digestive system and gastrointestinal tract, including liver and pancreas;
- diseases of the genitourinary and reproductive systems.
According to doctors and nutritionists, daily intake of one teaspoon of honey on an empty stomach prevents the death of brain cells, helps prevent thrombophlebitis and atherosclerotic vascular changes, heals stomach and intestinal ulcers, replenishes the body’s needs for vitamins A, BB, C and E. It reduces appetite and together with it saturates the body with carbohydrates.
Like any honey, bumblebee has contraindications. It should be used with caution in case of allergic reactions, diabetes mellitus, obesity.
How to get it, where can you buy it and how much does it cost?
The honey produced by bumblebees is considered to be exotic. It is difficult to find it on the free market. Breeding bumblebee apiaries is not a profitable occupation: bumblebees do not live long, they give little honey, although they are much more industrious than ordinary bees. Only rare beekeepers dare to experiment. However, bumblebee honey can be purchased at specialty markets, honey fairs, and online stores.
When buying a product, make sure of its quality. Bumblebee honey is very expensive (the cost reaches several thousand rubles per kilogram), and dishonest sellers are tempted to counterfeit it.
You can also get it yourself if you are armed with special skills and knowledge. In wildlife, bumblebees settle in the grass, ground, abandoned buildings, tree hollows. Having found the nest, you can enjoy the divine sweetness. The honey is pumped out using an ordinary pipette.
Why should bumblebees be protected?
The bumblebee is an important and responsible plant pollinator. Being polytrophic, the insect pollinates all plants in a row. Entomologists note the extraordinary mental abilities of bumblebees. Through numerous experiments and observations, they found that bumblebees, like bees, are able to pass on experience to subsequent generations, which is phenomenal among insects. Environmentalists around the world are concerned about the decline in the population of smart and peaceful insects that survived the Ice Age. Bumblebees will disappear – not only wild bumblebee honey will disappear, but irreparable damage will be done to the whole nature.