Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beekeeping in Slovenia

The next time a honey bee zips by you, take a moment to appreciate what nature has given to us -- this amazing little creature...Honey bees (or honeybees) are a subset of bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests out of wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis. Currently, there are only seven recognised species of honey bee with a total of 44 subspecies, though historically, anywhere from six to eleven species have been recognised. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.

Now what is honey. Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bees and insects has distinctly different properties. Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation, and store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Beekeeping practices encourage overproduction of honey so the excess can be taken from the colony. A honey bee has a proboscis which is like a tiny drinking straw that sucks up nectar from flowers. There are 2 stomachs in a bee. Some nectar goes into a bee's main stomach to digest for food and energy, the rest of the nectar goes into a special stomach where the bee can process the nectar into honey and transport it back to the hive. Bees can detect changes in air pressure. If it's going to rain and air pressure drops, they stay in their hives. Bees also do not fly around if the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When it is cold, they cluster in their hive to stay warm. They use the honey that they make for food during the cold months when nectar is scarce. In a colony, there are thousands of workers bees, a few hundred drones, and one queen bee. It is said that pure honey is the only food that does not rot.

Slovenia is the only European Union Member State to have protected its native bee, the Carniolan bee (Apis mellifera carnica. The Carniolan bee is famed for its docility, hard work, humility and excellent sense of orientation. So it is this bee that is one of the rare internationally recognised and protected features of that country. This breed of bee is regarded as the second most widespread bee bred in the world. For this reason special attention is devoted to preserving and cultivating the pure Carniolan bee, which is also regarded as part of the natural and cultural heritage of Slovenia. And, hence, it is not surprising that these lovely stamps on this minisheet were issued in 2001 in order to honour this insect - The Bee.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful art. The stamp artist really understood bees.