Plants foraged by bees for honey production in northern India: The diverse flora of India and its implications for apiculture
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Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, 53 University Road, Lucknow 226007, India
Online publication date: 2017-06-15
Publication date: 2017-06-15
Acta Palaeobotanica 2017; 57(1): 119–132
The plants foraged by bees for honey production vary from place to place in the diverse flora of India. This paper reports a palynological study of honey from eight sites of agriculture and urbanisation in the Gangetic Plain of Uttar Pradesh (UP), and presents data from similar studies done in India. Pollen grains of 55 species were recorded in the honey from south-western, central and eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, where Ageratum conyzoides, a noxious invasive weed, is a very dominant plant taxon. The second plant community used for foraging by honeybees consists of Syzygium cumini, Feronia limonia, Eucalyptus globulus, Prosopis spicigera, Prosopis juliflora, Brassica campestris, Pimpinella tomentosa, Xanthium strumarium, and Ziziphus sp. The third plant community foraged by honeybees includes diverse plant species such as Capparis sp., Ficus sp., Murraya koenigii, Aegle marmelos, and Tinospora cordifolia, as well as Caryophyllaceae and nectarless families. The last group of plants foraged by honeybees comprises ca 37 species sparsely present in the vicinity. If honeybees have access to their preferred plant species they rarely visit non-preferred species, but in the urban and rural agricultural areas where the vegetation is sparse they are forced to forage several other plants including invasive species. The quality and character of honey, whether multifloral, monofloral, or bifloral, largely indicates the changing pattern of vegetation in a particular area, and can furnish decadal to century-scale information about the vegetational changes induced by climate or anthropopression. Palynological data also shed light on medicinally important or allergenic pollen protein present in honey (valuable information for consumers) and the details about plant taxa foraged by honeybees can be used for branding and marketing particular types of honey.