Aunt Linda here on a hot afternoon this last day of April, in the Old Pueblo. There is notable buzzing in the mesquite tree outside my door. It is a sound I wait for each spring. For me, the best part of keeping bees is not the honey; though honey is remarkable. The best part is how they open wide my appreciation of the world around me.
If we were to hop a pollen grain and ride it back in time, all the way back to the Cretaceous Period, what would we find? The first flowers on planet earth. (Two hundred million years ago, there were plenty of plants on the planet, but no flowers.)
Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire, describes how “flowers changed everything” when they emerged on the planet. “Instead of relying on wind or water to move genes around, a plant could enlist the help of an animal by striking a grand coevolutionary compact: nutrition in exchange for transportation.” (p108).
This coevolutionary compact has been so successful that we see it very much in action in our own yards and neighborhoods even as I write.Below are a few photos of this ancient dance thriving in my own backyard – showing Apis Mellifera (honey bees) moving plant pollen around in exchange for nutrition.
The female foraging bee is gather pollen (protein rich food). She rubs her fur on the anthers of flowers and then combs the pollen off her body with the special “pollen combs” located on her front and middle legs. (below)
She packs the pollen into her pollen sacks (alot like “saddle bags”) on her back legs and carries it back to the hive. (below)
Once back in the hive she will store the pollen into cells near the brood nest; She does this by lowering her back legs into the cell and knocking off the pollen pellet into the cell; if you look closely you will see many colors of pollen and sometimes more than one type of pollen pellet in one cell. (below) Bee Bread is a mixture of of nectar and pollen stored to be later fed to baby bees.
Today’s Recipe is not a recipe at all, but an Invitation.
Seek out and taste fresh honeycomb.
Not just honey, but honey still in it’s wax comb.
If you do not have a beekeeper living near you, then look in a health food stores or farmers market.
It is pure joy to hold and smell and taste honeycomb – and to taste honey so pure that the last “hands” that touched the honey, were the bees’s before they capped the cell. See if you can taste the mesquite, the rosemary, the cactus flower, or whatever blooms near you, within the honey.
Below is honeycomb I harvested this morning.
Cactus Flower and pollen being gathered; note the pollen sack on back leg (below)
More Cactus Flower pollinating going on (below)
Rosemary flowers and foraging bee (below)
2 thoughts on “Ancient Dance: Genes, Nutrition, and Sweet Pure Food.”
I thoroughly enjoy this blog for information, inspiration and color! It gives me just a little more insight into things I thought I already knew about. Thanks for the thoughts and time you put into writing.
Linda – your photos are stunning