Tag Archives: Pollination

Honey, Bees are getting shrunk

Worldwide the number of bees is reducing due to various detrimental factors. In the past four years reduction in their numbers have shrunk by as much as 30%.

beehive

Honey has so many properties and benefits to humans, that it is considered as the food of Gods. It is full of nutrients and is complete food. And how is it made? Flowers with nectar, and a beehive and bees do the rest. It was also the first food of the cavemen. Our food will be less diverse and less nutritional without honey.

Not only that they convert the raw nutrients from flowers into the brown colored liquid but during the collection of nectar by visiting one flower after another, they are carrying out the process of cross pollination which results in better kind of fruits. The bee keepers keep their beehives under the shade of flowering trees or crops with flowers to enhance the pollination rate and thereby the productivity of farm crops. It has been observed that production increases to the tune of 35% due to pollination by bees.

India in this regard has done better with increase in the number of bees. The production of honey in 2014-15 has been 29578 MT as compared to 28376 MT in 2013-14. The value of export of natural honey was 445 crores rupees in 2013-14 and 555 crores rupees in 2014-15. The major buyer countries are USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Libya and Morrocco.

In India, 500 species of flora exits which are suitable for bees to extract the nectar and pollen. Major areas of production of natural honey are Maharastra and North East India. Some of naturally pure honey types are:

  1. Rapeseed or mustard honey.
  2. Eucalyptus honey
  3. Lychee honey
  4. Karaj or Pongamea honey
  5. Multi flora himalayan honey
  6. Acacia honey
  7. Wild flora honey
  8. Multi or single flower honey

The possible reasons for the decline in numbers are the use of pesticides in the farming, pathogens and lack of foraging. The has been marked increase in the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) disease during recent years. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen.

Even nature is giving us enough indication against the use of methodologies which run counter to the harmonious ways of the nature.

Advertisements

Golden Flowers: Amaltas

Plants did not have the flowers in the beginning. But there were massive herbivorous dinosaurs which guzzled mountains of plants in a day. Since the plants have not evolved flowers and hence seeds for propagation, they felt threatened with extinction. So they evolved flowers and instruments of sexual reproduction were established. Still there was problem for cross pollination. Plants came out with another strategy for transporting the pollen from one flower to another. They used insects like bees and flies as the vehicles for carrying the pollen. But why shall the insects do such chores for free. To award them the plants laced the flowers with sweet nectar and brilliant colors of petals to lure the insects. Bees in fact have acute visual power than humans. They can see in the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum which our eyes cannot. Whether color or not, there are cues or guiding arrows which plants have developed inside the flowers near the pollen.

Flower have great power over the human minds. Due to this they are used on all occasions from happiness to grief. In the marriages and on the dead bodies. They are offered in the worshiping places. All countries have one national flower. Flowers are the means for reproduction which is considered as the most pious activity. Flowers blossom in different seasons.

Normally maximum flowers are seen in the spring season when the winter is slowly receding giving way to the most pleasant season of spring which transits to the hot weather. In fact with each passing day, the heat is building up and vegetation begins to crumble. Flowers begin to wither because they are very delicate. But still there are certain trees which bloom in the heat. They seem to enjoy the heat and bear devil may care attitude to the Sun. In this process, they give us the moments to enjoy the nature’s glory.

Amaltas is one such tree which blooms during the onset of summer. It is called Cassia Fistula in the botanical language. The trees hardly bear any flowers. From the skeletons of the branches hang the beautiful bunches of golden colored flowers. Before becoming the full fledged flowers, the buds are like “Ghungroos” of gold.

The tree is the national flower of Thailand;  its yellow flowers symbolize Thai Royality. The golden shower tree is the state flower of Kerala state in India where the flowers are of ritual importance in the Vishu festival. The tree was made it to the 20 rupees stamp. It is also used in medicine.

There are eight to ten trees in our location and they are in full bloom as you can see them bursting forth with full glory.

Edmund Albius: Inventor of the Manual Method of Vanilla Pollination

Vanilla is rated as the second most valuable spice after Saffron. One of the reasons for their being the most valuable species in addition to right kind of climate is its labor intensive farming. Vanilla is famous for essence and find used in numerous food items.

The flavor is imparted by a organic compound Vanillin which has chemical having the name 4-hydroxy-3 methoxy benzaldehyde. Some other compounds also make contribution. Vanillin is not present in the beans. Beans contain odorless compoumd vanillin glucoside which when fermented releases the oil.

Vanilla is a native of Mexico. The pollination is possible due to the symbiotic relationship of the plant with a Melipona bee which is endemic to Mexico. The crop takes a long time of nine months to mature. Due to this reason Mexico was the only place where vanilla was found.

The vine was brought to other regions to be cultivated. The vines grew very well but were sterile because of the absence of the pollinating bee. Particularly the vine was brought to Reunion near Mauritius. Now can you believe that creativity is God gift. There on one of the farms was a slave labor whose name was Edmund Albius. At the time he was a 12 year boy, he hit upon a method of pollination by hand dusting which made it possible to pollinate the flowers and yield the crop. This was in 1841.

After this the monopoly of of Mexico was broken and due to the method developed by Edmond Albius the Madagascar and Mauritius region has become the major producer.

After the abolition of the slavery, he left the farm where he worked as a kitchen servant. He was arrested and accuse of stealing jewelery and other valuables and was jailed but was pardoned and released on account of the immense contribution made by him in making it possible for the vanilla cultivation at other places in addition to its origin location of Mexico.