Bee Hives and Honey

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Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in the reproduction of plants, thereby enabling fertilization and reproduction.

In spite of a common perception that pollen grains are gametes, like the sperm cells of animals, this is incorrect; pollination is a phase in the alternation of generations. Each pollen grain is a male haploid plant, a gametophyte, adapted to being transported to the female gametophyte, where it can achieve fertilization by producing the male gamete (or gametes, in the process of double fertilization).

A successful angiosperm pollen grain (gametophyte) containing the male gametes (sperm) gets transported to the stigma, where it germinates and its pollen tube grows down the style to the ovary. Its two gametes travel down the tube to where the gametophyte(s) containing the female gametes are held within thecarpel. One nucleus fuses with the polar bodies to produce the endosperm tissues, and the other with the ovum to produce the embryo[1][2] Hence the term: “double fertilization“.

In gymnosperms the ovule is not contained in a carpel, but exposed on the surface of a dedicated support organ such as the scale of a cone, so that the penetration of carpel tissue is unnecessary. Details of the process vary according to the division of gymnosperms in question.

The receptive part of the carpel is called a stigma in the flowers of angiosperms. The receptive part of the gymnosperm ovule is called the micropyle. Pollination is a necessary step in the reproduction of flowering plants, resulting in the production of offspring that are genetically diverse.

The study of pollination brings together many disciplines, such as botanyhorticultureentomology, and ecology. The pollination process as an interaction between flower and vector was first addressed in the 18th century by Christian Konrad Sprengel. It is important in horticulture and agriculture, because fruiting is dependent on fertilisation, which is the result of pollination. The study of pollination by insects is known as anthecology.

Honey /ˈhʌni/ is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to, as it is the type of honey collected by most beekeepers and consumed by people. Honeys produced by other bees (bumblebeesstingless bees) and insects (honey wasps) have different properties, and they are not discussed in this article.

Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. They store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside thebeehive.

Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and has approximately the same relative sweetness as granulated sugar.[1][2] It has attractive chemical properties for baking and a distinctive flavor that leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners.[1] Mostmicroorganisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity of 0.6.[3] However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacteriumClostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous to infants, as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in infants’ immature intestinal tracts, leading to illness and even death.[4]

Honey has had a long history in human consumption, and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. It also has a role in religion and symbolism. Flavors of honey vary based on the nectar source, and various types and grades of honey are available. It is also used in various medicinal traditions to treat ailments.[citation needed] The study of pollens and spores in raw honey (melissopalynology) can determine floral sources of honey.[5] Bees carry an electrostatic charge whereby they attract other particles in addition to pollen, which become incorporated into their honey; the honey can be analysed by the techniques of melissopalynology in area environmental studies of radioactive particles, dust and particulate pollution.[6][7]

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