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Beekeeping: Beekeeping flora and honey potential

Beekeeping: Beekeeping flora and honey potential

Due to its particular geographical configuration, Italy has a considerable variety of honey species: starting from the north with arctic-apline species up to the south with tropical species, while the proximity of the sea to the mountain ranges determines an overlapping of species of climatic horizons different.
From the beekeeping point of view, six areas with their species are identified:

  • Alpine area: rhododendron, raspberry, blueberry, fir (to produce honeydew) and meadow flowers.
  • Apennine and pre-Alpine areas: acacia (Robinia sp.), Sainfoin, various species of clover, chestnut.
  • Hilly area: forage crops, oilseeds (rapeseed, sunflower), chestnut.
  • Plain area: fruit trees, alfalfa, sunflower.
  • Tyrrhenian coastal area: heather, strawberry tree, myrtle, rosemary.
  • Island and southern area: citrus fruits, thyme, eucalyptus, myrtle, strawberry tree, carob tree.


Robinia inflorescence (photo Paul Fontaine www.odezia-atrata.be)

Potentials of honey plants

The honey potential of a plant expresses the theoretical quantity of honey of a particular species. Starting from sugars and considering that the latter are present in honey at an 80% rate, the following formula is applied:

kg honey / ha = kg sugar / ha x 100/80

Six productivity classes are recognized internationally:

Class:
I from 0 to 25 kg sugar / ha
II from 26 to 50 kg sugar / ha
III from 51 to 100 Kg sugar / ha
IV from 101 to 200 kg sugar / ha
V from 201 to 500 Kg sugar / ha
VI over 500 kg sugar / ha

However, for practical reasons, the following table shows the potentials of the main Italian honey plants expressed in kg of honey / ha (and not in kg of sugar / ha):

SpeciesKg honey / haClass (referred to Kg sugar / ha)

Acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia L.)

625

5

Field maple (Acer campestre L.)

60

2

Citrus fruits (Citrus spp.)

60

2

Borage (Borago officinalis L.)

625

6

Honeysuckle (Lonicera caprifolium L.)

60

2

Chestnut (Castanea sativa Miller)

310

5

Rapeseed (Brassica napus L.)

125

2

Ivy (Hedera helix L.)

625

5

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)

170

4

Heather (Calluna vulgarisL.)

40

1

Eucalyptus (Eucayilptus camaldulensis Dehnh)

200

4

Facelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia Benth.)

1250

6

Fruit bearing (Prunus spp.)

60

2

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.)

50

2

Ginestrino (Lotus cornicolatus L.)

45

2

Raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.)

190

4

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.)

625

6

Violet clover (Trifolium pratense L.)

75

3

Rhododendron (Rododendrum hirsutum L.)

90

3

Source: modified by Bruni Alessandra, Flowers and Bees in Europe, Ricciardelli D’Albore G., Intoppa F. (2000)


Video: These are the best Honey plants for bees! (September 2021).