The Flower and the Honey Bee: A Vital Bond

by AMANDA JOHNSON, president, Heartland Beekeepers Association

In the mesmerizing world of nature’s intricate relationships, few bonds are as vital and awe-inspiring as that between bees and flowers. This enchanting symbiosis has persisted for millions of years, orchestrating an elegant dance of mutual dependence and benefiting both parties and the entire ecosystem. 

Bees recognize flowers by their color, form, and scent—scent being the most important. Many flowers have patterns to guide pollinators to their nectaries; some nectar guides are only visible in the ultraviolet light spectrum. 

There is a daily rhythm to hive resource collection because flowers do not constantly have nectar and pollen available. Honey bees have a sense of time and can adjust their foraging behavior accordingly. They even fly at twilight and during full moons to take advantage of night-blooming plants. 

The concentration of sugar in nectar varies wildly depending on plant species and climate conditions. Small amounts of organic acids, mineral salts, proteins, enzymes, and alkaloids give distinct aromas and flavors to the honey produced. Some flowers, like azaleas and rhododendrons, contain toxic compounds that can cause hallucinations. 

Honey bees also forage for pollen from flowers. Because pollen grains are difficult to break down and digest, bees utilize lactic acid fermentation by yeast—just like humans—to create bee bread. These pollen pastries are their primary source of protein.  \

The unique relationship between bees and flowers is a heartwarming reminder of nature’s unparalleled beauty and complexity—a testament to the wonders of symbiosis that continue to captivate and inspire us.

Amanda is the president of the Heartland Beekeepers Association, a Master Gardener Volunteer, and presently working on a Master Beekeeper Certification. She instructs beekeeping classes and offers monthly field days for budding beekeepers at the Master Gardener Volunteer Teaching hives. Amanda will be instructing a beekeeping class at the Bert J. Harris Agricultural Center on September 9.

Beekeeping Class

When: Sept. 9

Time: 8:30 a.m. -12 p.m. 

Instructor: Amanda Johnson, president of the Heartland Beekeepers Association

Where: Bert J. Harris Agricultural Center, Sam Polston Auditorium
4509 George Blvd., Sebring, Fl  33875

Cost: $25 

(Cost includes a one-year membership to the Heartland Beekeepers Association)

Register: Call the Extension office at (863) 403-6540 

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