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The components that determine honeybee (Apis mellifera) preference between Israeli unifloral honeys and the implications for nectar attractiveness

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Unifloral honeys are honeys that are dominated by a single nectar source. Several samples of Israeli honeys were analyzed for their physicochemical characteristics and tested by pollen analysis for their botanical source. Based on pollen content, unifloral honeys were harvested only from landscapes of planted forests including: aethel (Tamarix sp.), carob (Ceratonia siliqua), and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus sp.). However, honeys extracted from agricultural landscapes should also be considered as unifloral due to pollen underrepresentation. No evidence for unifloral honeys from natural landscapes was found. Later, honeybee preference between different honeys and sucrose solution was tested and these preferences were correlated with honey traits. The preference experiment revealed that bees tend to prefer sucrose solution rather than any honey source. Among honeys, bees showed the highest preference for citrus honey and the lowest preference for avocado honey. Preference for aethel, cotton, and eucalyptus was intermediate. The electrical conductivity value of the honeys was negatively correlated with honey preference, indicating that the mineral content of honey, and probably of nectar, affects the attractiveness to bees.

Affiliations: 1: B. Triwaks Bee Research Center, Department of Entomology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; 2: Institute of Plant Sciences, Gilat Research Center, Agricultural Research Organization ; 3: B. Triwaks Bee Research Center, Department of Entomology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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