Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Melliferous flora of Karakalpakstan

Prunus persica
Melliferous flora are plants which produces substances that can be collected by bees and turned into honey. Many plants are melliferous, but only certain examples can be harvested by honey bees, because of their physiognomy (body size and shape, length of proboscis, etc.) In Karakalpakstan some 206 species of wild vascular plants, which belonged to 134 genera of 46 families have commercial value for beekeeping. Among the 206 species of wild melliferous plants identified, 196 species are considered to have medicinal properties. Flowering of wild melliferous plants starts from March the most common found in Karakalpakstan are Populus nigraL., Roemeria refracta DC, Populus ariana Dode, Ferula foetida (Bunge) Regel, Ammodendron conollyi Bunge, Capparis herbacea Willd, Karelinia caspia (Pall.) Less, Halimodendron halodendron (Pall.) Voss, Fumaria vaillantii Loisel, Elaeagnus turcomanica N. Kozl, Elaeagnus oxycarpa Schlecht. Alhagi  pseudalhagi (Bieb.) Fisch, Glycyrrhiza glabra L, Medicago sativa L.and Althaea armeniaca. After June, the bees start to collect honey from cultivated mellliferous species, such as cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), clover (Trifolium arvense L.), apricot (A. vulgaris Lam.), jiyda (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.), and peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch].   

    

Honey and honey based-products have a long tradition as a food source in Central Asia, with the hive and the honey produced by bees having fascinated and nourished human populations for millennia and the honey bee has been intricately woven into many cultures. Once domesticated, honey bees were actively moved as part of human migrations, and eventually their pollination services became recognised and held in equal importance to their honey.

The breed of honey bee in Uzbekistan is Apis mellifera carpathica. One of the important biological features of carpathian bees is their peaceful behaviour. This bee is winter hardy, which allows them to successfully come back from a long dormant periods.

Since ancient times honey has been considered as God's gift and used as a prophylactic food for treating many diseases. There are more than 150 traditional remedy's using honey, either in its pure form or mixed with various food ingredients (e.g., beet, pumpkin) which had strong medicinal and disease-preventive properties, especially those related to the respiratory system. Honey is known to be rich in both enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidants, including glucose oxidase, catalase, ascorbic acids, flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoid derivatives, organic acids, Maillard reaction products, amino acids, and proteins. Through the use of enzymes, bees are able to convert the complex sugar in nectar into more simple sugars.  Through the use of enzymes, bees are able to convert the complex sugar in nectar into more simple sugars.

Honey from melliferous flora has good antibacterial and preserving properties (up to 3 months at room temperature) and has long been used for improving human nutrition and boosting immunity. It contains many biologically active substances, as it is collected from many different species of plants. A more saturated honey it has good healing properties and is an important component of many drugs, dietary products, or cosmetics. Pure honey is used to treat coughs and colds. Furthermore, honey is used to prepare an ointment with other plant materials, which can be applied on various wounds as it has good antiseptic properties and prevents the growth of germs and bacteria. In addition, a mixture of honey, butter, and milk is used in the treatment of tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases.

Photo: Karakalpakstan has very favourable conditions for beekeeping 
 
In Karakalpakstan the production of honey from cultivated species such as cotton is most promising as it occupies a majority of the planted area. Currently the honey obtained from cotton flowers (Gossypium arboreum and Gossypium herbaceum) constitutes more than 50% of the total regional output. Honey from cotton is creamy with light amber colour and has a mild, pleasant, flowery taste, without excessive acidity.
 
In Karakalpakstan and other parts of Uzbekistan there is an urgent need to preserve Melliferous flora that can sustain bee colonies. A key priority must be the continued conservation and preservation of the natural environment and diversity of flora to improve and expand the industry and produce many tons of high-quality, environmentally friendly honey.