Sweet as honey
Apple dipped in honey is one of our favorite holiday customs, and knowing that the honey is produced from local nectar only sweetens the experience. On the honey and the sting at Ramat Hanadiv
They are hardworking, active, and sweeten our lives. Nevertheless, most of us keep away from them. In honor of the holiday, we invite you to a close encounter with honeybees; through the screen, you’ll be able to appreciate this amazing animal without worrying about getting stung…
Ramat Hanadiv’s Nature Park is a matrix of natural and cultural landscape in which agriculture has been an integral part since biblical times. In recent years Ramat Hanadiv has encouraged and supported regional agriculture, including integrating agriculture into the diverse mosaic of the Nature Park, from cattle and small ruminant grazing to olive groves and wheat fields, hosting honeybees hives to forage on the local, rich nectar and repay in kind with that sweet spread that only nature knows how to produce.
The main sources of nectar and pollen for honeybees are found in the open landscapes that provide a wide range of nectar- and pollen-rich flowers in varying amounts according to the season and area. The Nature Park at Ramat Hanadiv serve as a foraging area for honeybees and act as a base camp for a number of beehives that migrate at the end of the flowering season here, to other regions to accumulate more honey.
Honey production depends on the availability of flowers that provide nectar and pollen to the “bee family” in the hive. Pollen is an exclusive source of protein, vitamins, fatty acids and minerals necessary for the development of the young generation of bees and the continued existence of the hive. Nectar is the carbohydrate-rich component of the bees’ diet, part of which is consumed continually and part of which is stored in the hive for periods of deficit, as honey. The nectar that the bees are so attracted to is rich in sucrose, and the bees store it in the hive in the form of honey which they produce by breaking down the complex sugars into simple sugars. This process takes place in the bees’ crop, an organ found in the bees’ digestive system which contains enzymes that facilitate complex sugars breakdown. While storing the nectar in the hive, the honeybees evaporate some of the water from the nectar in order to increase the concentration of sugars and store it for difficult periods. The concentrate that forms is the honey we are familiar with. The honeybees in the hive operate according to the “collective principle” – each individual in the hive fulfills a role according to its age and specialization; a single bee can produce about one teaspoon of honey throughout its entire life, while a healthy hive can produce 15-40 kg honey per year.
Storage of honey in the hive is affected by different factors inside and outside of the hive. The size of the bee population in the hive, the conditions in the hive’s surroundings, and the type of treatment determine the strength and ability of the hive to store honey. The availability of food sources in the hive’s surroundings, as well as the weather, determines the forage potential. An optimum honey harvest will be achieved if the hive reaches the peak of its strength when the species of flowers that provide large amounts of nectar begin to flower. Proper hive management by the beekeeper requires close familiarity with the important sources of nectar and pollen in the proximity of the hive and the ability to predict the onset and end of the flowering period to ensure correct timing of honey collection and transfer of the hive. Where do they go to at the end of the flower season? Most of the beehives go to alternative forage sites where flowering has still not ended or agricultural fields where flowering is still at its peak.
The beehives in Ramat Hanadiv's Nature Park are located at a safe distance from hiking trails, but close to dirt roads, to enable easy access for the beekeepers. While you hike around the park, keep a safe distance from the beehives in order to avoid getting stung. Near the hive, bees may be more defensive and hence, the chance of getting stung is higher. At the end of your hike, you are welcome to visit the Info Shop at the Visitor Center, where you will find a rich diversity of products from the Bet El community waiting for you, including honey that comes straight from the wildflowers of Ramat Hanadiv.
The beehives in Ramat Hanadiv's Nature Park