Did you know that the beekeepers and bee’s work is essential for the food’s future and the biodiversity conservation?
At HoneyGreen+ we have been working in this incredible world for 28 years and we have been sharing our knowledge with our community in this blog for more than two years.
Over the years we have been able to observe that for many people it is an unknown world, and we feel responsible to highlight the work of beekeepers and bees, whose role is essential to take care of our health and planet.
In July we travelled to Budapest to visit our suppliers and take a tour of different beehives -where our honey and honeycomb are harvested-.
For HoneyGreen+, taking care of the relationship with our partners and beekeepers is our priority, we visit every year the different locations of the origins from of our natural ingredients portfolio.
Budapest: a region specialized in the honeycomb harvesting
Our colleague Elena Rodriguez, Brand Manager at HoneyGreen+, shared with us her experience during the trip, where she was able to observe the work of bees, beekeepers and the honeycomb harvesting. This natural product of the beehive offers a unique experience, as it allows you to consume honey in the most natural way. Don’t miss below every single detail of her trip.
“On the 5th of July I had the opportunity to travel to Budapest with my colleagues, Carlos Perseguer, General Manager, and Mariela Cartas, Purchasing Manager for Eastern Europe, Asia and Italy. We travelled at one of the most beautiful times of the year, coinciding with the sunflower flowering, a very special flower for its beauty, significance, and its essential role in the harvesting of the beehive products.
The sunflower symbolizes positivity, strength, admiration, and loyalty. In addition, its yellow color is one of the favorite colors of the bees, along with blue.
Budapest sunflower is responsible for producing nectar and pollen, which is collected by bees and transferred to the beehives to produce propolis, beewax, honeycomb and honey.
Therefore, all honey harvested in the period July-August has a high pollen content which comes from the sunflower flower.
The following picture shows the collection of pollen and nectar by a honeybee, which takes place on the stamens of the flower, specifically on the antenna.
The pollen collected by the bees is mixed with nectar and salivary substances to obtain the shape of a small granule. Each bee pollen grain contains 100,000 to 5,000,000 pollen granules.
These pollen granules are carried on their hind legs and transported back to the hive.
In the case of nectar, the bee stores it in its abdomen. An enzyme in the bee’s stomach, called glucose oxidase, breaks down the nectar and helps produce honey. A bee may need to visit more than 1,000 flowers before its honey stomach is completely full. This honey is then deposited by the bee in the cells that make up the honeycomb, also known as the “honeycomb”.
The bee in the picture is covered with pollen, the bee’s hairs, called “mushrooms”, allow the pollen to be collected. In fact, up to 6 ways of obtaining pollen have been identified: scraping, buzzing, rubbing with the body, tapping, rubbing, and rasping.
Did you know that a bee usually visits around 7,000 flowers a day?
This picture is captured at 9 am, so taking into account that European honeybees are usually activated by the sunlight at dawn, this particular bee may have already visited more than 1,800 flowers (in Budapest it is usually dawn from 5 am onwards).
Visit to the beehives
After visiting the sunflower fields, we visited two beehives surrounded by sunflower fields and acacia flower forests, another Hungary’s characteristic monofloral.
Honeycombs forms the skeleton of the “hive” organism. In the following image where my colleague Mariela appears, we can see the formation of the honeycomb, we can see how the bees are sealing the cells with a thin layer of wax. Once they have checked that the honey is ready to be stored, they start with the sealing, this process is called the operculation of the cells and it is the signal that the honey is ready to be collected from the hives.
At the beginning of the season, in April-May in Hungary – the bees start to build the wax “walls” of the cells. The process is very labor-intensive, as they have to consume eight ounces of honey to produce one ounce of wax.
Hungary’s special climate, excellent soil and extensive acacia forests allow the bees to collect the nectars from the acacias in May, early June and continue their work in the phacelia and sunflower fields in June and July, allowing them to receive pure, clear, pollen-filled honey in the honeycomb cells. The comb is light-colored with non-crystallized honey.
The comb is composed of honey stored in hexagonal wax cells, produced by the honeybees themselves, with their eight pairs of glands, located under their abdomen. This substance oozes out through the bee’s pores to produce tiny flakes of wax on their abdomen. The bees chew the wax until it softens and can easily be formed into a cell wall. The bee colony creates the temperature necessary to control the texture of the wax inside the hive.
The next step in the creation of the comb is the filling of the cells. Worker bees collect nectar and sap from different plants. Hungarian honeycomb gets its unique taste and appearance from acacia, phacelia, linden and sunflower fields.
The pollen collected by the bees is mixed with a specialized enzyme, which is then transferred from their tongues to those of other bees. This process allows the nectar to be evaporated and then turned into honey. The glands of the worker bees convert the sugar content of the honey into wax.
The constant fanning of the bee’s wings causes evaporation, creating sweet, liquid honey in the cells. In this way, they manage to extract up to 80% of the excess water. The bees then seal the cells with a thin layer of wax to ensure that the honey is preserved properly.
In the main season, in June and July in Hungary, it takes the bees 3-4 weeks to prepare the complete frames, ready to be collected in wooden boxes.
At HoneyGreen+, traceability and food safety are our priority and therefore each honeycomb frame that is collected carries a QR code, which identifies a unique batch number. In addition, our suppliers work with bee-friendly beekeepers, always keeping the honey directive in mind.
Raw, unfiltered honeycomb has incredible benefits, as well as offering a unique eating experience, with a crunchy crunch thanks to the natural beeswax. It is the most natural form of honey presentation. It has an elegant appearance and a delicious taste.
It is completely edible, made of honey and beeswax, two natural and edible products. It can be eaten directly with a spoon, or on toast, with fruit, in small pieces on cereals or even ice cream. It goes perfectly with cheese and wine.
It consists of a series of hexagonal cells made of beeswax containing raw honey, an unpasteurized and unfiltered honey.
Honeycomb is rich in carbohydrates and antioxidants with a natural supply of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
Since I started to consume them, I can affirm they are my natural medicine to contribute to the daily care of my immune health.
Its consumption also contributes to health:
Clothing for visiting beehives
It should be noted that on any visit to a beehive, it is necessary to wear adequate protection to avoid a bee sting, to be comfortable, as although you have no intention of invading their space, they may see you as a threat, and to be accompanied by a beekeeper.
To do this, you should wear comfortable shoes, long trousers, avoiding black, a short or long-sleeved T-shirt and the beekeeper’s clothing, including a mask with protective tulle, full overalls and gloves.
Another very important piece of information is that it is not advisable to wear perfume, as it attracts them.
In my case, I got too close to the hive without gloves, and I was stung, but it was a learning experience. Luckily, I am not allergic, and it was just a scare fright, but it is very important to act in the first few seconds to prevent the poison from spreading. We should never press on the sting; we should remove the sting by scraping it out with for example the edge of a credit card or similar object. Afterwards, it is necessary to wash the wound with plenty of water and neutral or white soap and disinfectant, such as iodine, apply a cold compress and hold it up.
My recommendation is of course to live the experience of visiting a beehive to connect with the world of beekeeping and to be able to understand the work of beekeepers, the role of bees as pollinators and to see the process of elaboration of the natural treasures of the hive, which nature gives us.
I hope you have enjoyed reading it and that has taken you to the fields of Budapest for a few minutes.”
Download the following ebook if you found this article interesting, it will allow you to get to know and connect with the world of bees.
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