Apicultural and botanical characterization of Gallegos del Campo, Aliste, Spain
Knowing the Flora where the bees pecorean is of paramount importance, because it is the rational base for the correctly managed of the apiaries when the flora represents the most precious resource with which they count the bees to feed themselves and to produce the honey.
The flora defines the productive alternative of honey and the rest of products and byproducts that come from all beekeeping, which places limits on production and which defines its characteristics.
Within the Aliste region, our beekiping farm is located in the northwest of Spain, in the town of Gallegos del Campo, near the Sierra de la Culebra, orographic system of moderate height, about 800 meters above the level of the sea, reaching its maximum level at 1235 meters, in Peña Mira, near the Aliste river and the Portuguese border with the neighboring territory of Tras Os Montes, with reduced levels of accessibility and communications, which makes it suffer of a peripheral character that can reach marginality, whose expression is a clear regression in the population of the whole region.
Views of the northern area of Gallegos del Campo, with a White Spanish broom in full bloom and Peña Mira in the background
The orography of this area forms a territory where agriculture is in recession, as well as in the pastures, abundant a few years ago, with an immense plain to the north called Campo Aliste.
The plain of Campo Aliste, dotted with small lagoons, precious water reservoirs for the summer drought
To the southwest we find a more brittle terrain with diverse streams, mountains, accompanied by abundant and varied vegetation.
In the west area of Gallegos del Campo we can see numerous streams of great importance for the biodiversity of the region
This locality has beautiful places of great environmental potential, its botanical diversity being an imprint with which it counts and an advantage of which our honey is impregnated, a reflection of varied ecological characteristics and compatible with different and complementary uses.
From the Alto del Castro you can see the mountains of our neighboring Portuguese region Tras Os Montes, only a few kilometers from our apiaries
We believe that our land can make us hear what we are often unable to appreciate, such as the sound of flowers when they open, the sound of the sun warming the earth, the sound of water winding the stones of the streams and the sound of Grass as he tests the morning dew.
The sounds of the Nature of our apiaries
The environmental richness of this territory generates a great importance for our beekeeping, being free of the degrading action of man and especially of intensive phytosanitary treatments, typical of a more intensive and commercial agriculture, that we can not find in this region.
Ribera Apiary, symphony of colors in full Spanish Nature
And of course, essential for beekeeping and quality blooms is the presence of water, a living element always present in this area.
The sound of water near our apiaries
The flower as a significant and explanatory element of the beekeeping process
Plants of apicultural interest are those that provide sufficient resources to the bees. The bee is one of the animals of greater importance for the environment but also of great utility for the man when providing the service of pollination to the crops, without which would reduce the harvests enormously.
The arrangement of flowers in inflorescence is very important for beekeeping
In Apiculture we distinguish three vegetal species: those that provide nectar, those that contribute pollen and those that at the same time contribute both nectar and pollen. Although they can also contribute another series of elements of great importance as they are the mielatos, essential oils, waxes and resins.
The morphological structure of a complete flower is composed of Calyx, Corolla, Stamen and Pistil. The Calix serves as a wrapping to the flower protecting it, the Corolla will protect the reproductive organs of the flower and is the one that attracts the attention of the pollinators, the Stamens are the male organs and in their Anthers are the pollen grains. And finally, the female organ is composed of Stigma, Style and Ovary, that fertilized by pollen grains produce the seeds.
Parts of the flower
In most cases the plants have developed a series of mechanisms that prevent self-fertilization, allowing genetic variability to be maintained. The action to transport pollen from the anthers to the stigma of the flower is called pollinization, and although it can be carried out by different means (by wind, gravity, etc.), it is fundamental what is known as anemophilous pollination or carried out by the Insects, although in the agricultural ecosystems the wild pollinators tend to be scarce, mainly after the intervention of the man and the introduction of agrarian systems more aggressive for the environment.
There is a great diversity of wild pollinators, in addition to the bumblebees, which together with the bees are also capable of performing the important function of pollinating. In this case, wild flowers near the place of Bocagundino
This makes that many crops dependent on the honey bee for optimum pollination. In this way an optimal relationship between bee and plant is established, beneficial not only for the environment but also for people.
Bee Pollination of cherry orchards in the orchards near Gallegos del Campo
The exchange of pollen to the female part does not guarantee that the fruit will form because the next process is fertilization, where the pollen grain germinates and develops a pollen tube with which the union of the male and female gametes is achieved. And although almost all plants have flowers with male and female organs, it is necessary in most cases to pollination by insects.
The most important element for the product to be pecoreous by the bees is the floral attraction that plants exert on them. And in this sense, the smell, color and nutritive value of nectar and pollen are the three biochemical components that determine it.
Bees foraging winter flowers
We must take into account the climatic factors that also propiate decisively in the foraging, such as temperature, solar radiation and rainfall. The bees will not fly if the temperature is below 48°F, if there is not enough light, although they can do so on cloudy days, because their vision is with the ultraviolet spectrum, and this crosses the clouds although they tend to stay close to the hive , In the morning and in the afternoon.
The bees visit the flower for a special reason: the collection of pollen and nectar to meet the hive food requirements.
Bees foraging the apple blossom
In plants that produce fruits, the reason for being of the nectar is to attract the pollinators, by the presence of sugars in it, mainly glucose, fructose and sucrose.
The nectar secreted by the plant is related to the temperature and this is different for each plant species. The nectar provides carbohydrates to the bees and pollen of the remaining nutritional requirements. Pollen is mainly protein.
The collection of pollen by a colony of bees is directly related to the presence of brood, as it will be required in the feeding. Beekeeping behavior is a balance between the maximization of individual efficiency in the collection of food and the use of the available food resources of the colony as a whole. In addition, it is necessary to take into account the studies on pollen collected by the bees pecoreadoras, which show the fidelity of these insects to the species visited.
The return after a work hard day of a bee worker, you can observe the pollen embedded throughout her body
The bees communicate to their hivemates in which direction they must fly to reach a food sourcethe abundance of nectar and concentration, through the so-called bee dance (waggle dance).
When a bee returns from a source rich in resources, it feels obliged to communicate to the rest of bees in the hive the direction and distance to which resources are found through dance, with which it manages to communicate distance, measured in energy expenditure to arrive at the resource, as well as the direction in which it is, which is indicated according to the sun’s inclination on the piquera and the intensity of the abdominal movements.
Once the rest of bee-bees arrive at the place of the resource, the flowers, each bee chooses a flower. If a specific flower, of specific morphology and color, provided a good resource, they continue to use it for a while, although there are better ones, behavior that benefits the plants since the bee carries the pollen of the same species from one side to another , Causing cross-pollination.
The bee dance (waggle dance) found on Youtube, produced by Bienentanz Gesellschaft für Kommunikation mbH in Berlin, Germany (www.bienentanz.com)
An interesting aspect of the foraging is the fact of sharing information among the bees. In this way, each bee informs the others through marks made with pheromones.
The concentration of nectar is very important, since it determines the species of plant to be foraged, just as the abundance of the plant establishes the number of bees that will visit the plant.
Knowledge of the bee flora
The most important aspect to determine if an apiary can be established in a territory is always the existence of a vegetation rich in those elements that the bee needs in order to be able to obtain a good honey and wax production.
There are plants that are more suitable for the production of honey. In this way, nectar, the main bee food, requires that it be produced in abundant form by the plant, rich in sugars and can easily be reached by the bee. Only those plants that meet these conditions are considered as honey plants.
Diversity of honey plants in La Fontanica
The flora of a certain territory defines the apiary productive alternative , the quantity and quality of the honey and its by-products, as well as determines the work in the apiary, optimizing the use of the resources.
Therefore, the knowledge of the flora supposes us an information to determine guidelines for the correct apiary management and so that our consumers know where it comes from the honey that they are tasting.
Aliste Bee Flora
The abundant flora close to the beehive settlements of our apiary farm are a guarantee for the work of the bees.
The proximity of the bee flora is evident in our apiaries
To know the innumerable botanical varieties and their images of the plants and flowers of Gallegos del Campo, you must see this section in Spanish.