Nature is so beautiful and so perfect.
Think of flowers and their purpose. The nectar, the scent and the beauty of the flowers have only one unique goal: to attract the insect that will carry their pollen from flower to flower.
During spring time is when the bees are really busy collecting pollen and if you are out in the country you will see them working hard flying from flower to flower drinking in as much nectar as they can get.
On my last trip to Italy I had the exciting experience of visiting a bee farmer and inspecting a beehive.
Mr Roberto is an artisan, he has a real passion for beekeeping. He left his previous job as a chef to dedicate his life to produce the best honey using completely natural methods; his raw organic honey is pure and natural just as real honey should be. Not to be compared to the cheap ones you can find in supermarkets these days.
I jumped on his van and off we went to visit his beehives in the middle of the Friulian countryside. I felt a sense of freedom and excitement, I have been eating honey for all my life but I have never inspected a beehive before. Roberto has several beehives in different spots, some in the mountains, some near his home in Carlino/Udine and some near Marano Lagunare near the seaside.
Roberto gave me a protective suit, net and gloves. They were a bit large for my size but they felt perfectly comfortable. I felt like I was going into space! I felt just as excited as a 5 year old!
And we were ready to go!
Roberto opened a beehive for me, the bees seemed quite agitated he said that was because of the rape fields nearby but I felt safe in my suit. I must admit it was tricky taking photos with my mask and big gloves but that added to the enthusiasm even more!
My camera looked black..and alive! It was covered with bees!
During springtime it’s when workers bees go out to collect the sugary juice called nectar from the heart of the flowers. This is stored in their special honey stomach which is different from their food stomach. When they have a full load they go back to their hive. They also collect pollen on the back of their legs.
The nectar is then delivered to the indoor bees and then passed from mouth-to-mouth to different bees until its moisture content is reduced to about 20%. This changes the nectar into honey.
Sometimes there is no need for the bees to pass it from mouth to mouth to produce honey because some evaporation will occur if the temperature inside the hive reaches 32.5°C.
The honey is then placed in storage cells and capped with beeswax produced by the bees and it will be ready to feed the newborn baby bees. Pollen is mixed with nectar to feed the larvae. A baby bee needs food rich in protein and the pollen is very rich in it.
The larvae who are to become future queens will be fed with royal jelly. Royal jelly is produced by young female worker bees and it is made with pollen and chemicals from the glands of the bees.
Bees collect pollen from the anthers of the flowers which look like small grains of different colours and they carry them on their legs. Roberto collects the pollen that the bees bring to the hive by creating a small opening in the beehive so that the returning foragers need to crawl through it in order to enter the hive so that some of the pollen falls into a collection tray.
Pollen is one of nature’s most completely nutritious foods as it contains almost all nutrients required by humans: it has a high content of proteins, mineral salts, enzymes, free amino acids, vitamin C and B and folic acid.
Pollen is a very good food supplement to help with your immune system, can be taken during pregnancy, it is very good if you do lots of sports as it is an energy enhancer and if you are vegetarian this is a good source of vitamin B12.
100 grams of pollen have 285 calories which means an adult only needs to take 1 tbsp preferably at breakfast time, whilst for a child 1 tsp is enough.
Roberto produces different types of delicious honey, from “Millefiori” made with different types of local flowers, to chestnut, lime, maple but the one I loved most was the one from the Friulan lagoon which has a delicate and interesting flavour which goes very well accompanied with fresh cheese.
Thanks Roberto for this wonderful experience!
Azienda Agricola Comuzzi Roberto
Via Nazionale 11
You can find Roberto’s website here.