The components that determine honeybee (Apis mellifera) preference between Israeli unifloral honeys and the implications for nectar attractiveness

Ohad Afik, Tom Hallel, Arnon Dag, Sharoni Shafir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Unifloral honeys are honeys that are dominated by a single nectar source. Several samples of Israeli honeys were analyzed for their physicochemical characteristics and tested by pollen analysis for their botanical source. Based on pollen content, unifloral honeys were harvested only from landscapes of planted forests including: aethel (Tamarix sp.), carob (Ceratonia siliqua), and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus sp.). However, honeys extracted from agricultural landscapes should also be considered as unifloral due to pollen underrepresentation. No evidence for unifloral honeys from natural landscapes was found. Later, honeybee preference between different honeys and sucrose solution was tested and these preferences were correlated with honey traits. The preference experiment revealed that bees tend to prefer sucrose solution rather than any honey source. Among honeys, bees showed the highest preference for citrus honey and the lowest preference for avocado honey. Preference for aethel, cotton, and eucalyptus was intermediate. The electrical conductivity value of the honeys was negatively correlated with honey preference, indicating that the mineral content of honey, and probably of nectar, affects the attractiveness to bees.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)253-261
Number of pages9
JournalIsrael Journal of Plant Sciences
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Haim Efrat, Yossi Slabezki, and many Israeli beekeepers for providing the honey samples. We thank Erez Tsur, Orit Amar, and Yulia Sobotin for their help and Ari Schaffer and Yelena Yeselson for the carbo-hydrate analysis. This research was funded by a research grant from the Israeli Honey Commission.

Keywords

  • Electrical conductivity
  • Minerals
  • Physicochemical analysis
  • Pollen
  • Preference
  • Unifloral honey

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