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Honeybee - our best insect friend

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Honeybees are essentially social insects belonging to the Hymenoptera species. They are flower pollinators and live in beehives, that are made of wax cells.

Three classes of honeybees

  • Workers: undeveloped females with stings, seen only in early summer.
  • Queens: larger in size than workers. 
  • Drones or males: larger than the workers but without sting.
Both queens and workers lay eggs.

Food of honeybee

The food of honeybee is naturally honey which is the nectar extracted from pollen grains of flowers. Bees adapt their body structure in a way suitable for extraction of honey. They produce honey by gathering nectar from the follower blossoms containing more than 15 percent sugar content. The nectar is stored in a sac, to which digestive enzymes such as invertase are added, and the sucrose in the nectar gets converted to glucose and fructose. When the bee returns to the hive, it regurgitates the nectar and transfers it to another worker, who takes it to the honeycomb and evaporates it by fanning her wings. What is left, is honey! Once the honey is aged, the comb is sealed by wax to prevent spoiling.

What is honey?

Honey is a light yellowish brown colour liquid, sweet in taste containing glucose. It is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, minerals like calcium, phosphorous and iron, along with Vitamin B and C.

Interesting facts about honey

  • Honey contains about 18 percent water and is therefore soluble in water.
  • A honeybee makes 154 trips for one teaspoon of honey.
  • To gather a pound of honey, a bee flies a distance which is more than three times around the world. It takes two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
  • The flowers from which the nectar is gathered determine the flavour and colour.
  • A bee colony produces 60 to 100 pounds of honey a year.

Uses of honey in our everyday life

  • It is used in baking cakes, pastries etc.
  • Used in candies and preparing fruit creams.
  • Mixed in breakfast cereals.
  • It is mixed with wine and many fermented drinks and beverages. 
  • It is used to preserve fruits. 
  • Sweets are prepared with honey.
  • Used as a face pack to give an added glow to human skin.
  • It has been used in the treatment of burns and cuts  as it has mild antiseptic properties.
  • A teaspoonful of honey if mixed with few drops of lemon and extract of ginger helps in curing cough and cold.
  • Use honey for an ice cream or any biscuit topping.
  • Try using honey instead of granulated sugar. 
  • A teaspoon of honey if mixed in a glass of lukewarm water and lemon juice cures constipation (to be taken on empty stomach).
  • Honey helps in keeping the teeth and gums clean. It also gives shine to the teeth if applied daily.
  • One or two teaspoons of honey, if mixed with a cup of warm milk, and taken before going to bed,  ensures a sound sleep.

Not only honey, but bee wax is also very useful. It is used for making candles, cosmetics, furniture and artificial flowers and fruits.

Considering the medicinal and nutritional qualities of honey, we can say that honeybees are the most beautiful gifts of Nature to mankind.
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