Honey Plant plants that constitute the source of nectar for production of honey. Honeybees collect nectar and pollen as their food. For this reason they always visit plants around their hive. Some plants are selected only for pollen as food and flowers of these plants may not contain nectar. Some plants are selected both for nectar and pollen, and some only for their nectar. Floral nectaries (gland that secretes nectar) are found in parts of the flower such as the receptacle, base and apex of the ovary, below the stamens, and on the petals and sepals. Nectaries may also be extra floral when found on the vegetative aerial parts present between and below the bracts, on the petiole, on the undersurface of leaves, on the leaf midrib, or on the mid-veins. Some honey plants have both floral and extrafloral nectaries.
The honey plant of an area can be identified by analysis of the pollen present in honey or by direct observation of the foraging patterns of bees. While foraging on different plants, honeybee collects nectar and pollen from these. The pollen is retained in the ripened honey. Thus the honey which bees subsequently store always contain a certain amount of pollen.
Honey plants are classified into agricultural crops, horticultural crops, forage legumes, ornamental plants and wild plants. Many agricultural plants are important and major contributors of honey. The common agricultural crops considered potential honey plants in Bangladesh are cucurbitaceous plants, beans, okra, radish, coriander, onion, mustard, niger, sesame and cotton. Most of these plants blossom during December to March. The sugar content of the nectar of these plants varies between 45 and 70 percent. The potential horticultural honey plants are litchi, black berry, coconut, mango, citrus and guava. These crops blossom during March to May and constitute the main spring flow of honey. Many ornamental plants are also good honey plants but the yield from them is very low.
Majority of these ornamental plants are too scattered or too few in number to act as a major source of nectar but they serve to ensure a continuous supply of nectar throughout the year. Such plants include Ageratum, Caesalpinea, Salvia and many plants of family Compositae, basil, China rose and gulmohr. There are many forest plants identified as honey contributors and constitute major sources of nectar. These are of specific value to wild honeybees and migratory bees. Such plants include Leucus, sissoo, wild jujube, palash, rubber, arjun, mahua, Acacia species, sal, moringa, coral, Albizia species and Cassia species.
The honey plants are not only visited by honeybees but also by many other insects such as flies, moths, beetles, wasps, hornet, and birds. Wasps and hornets mainly visit plants secreting plenty of nectar. [Mostafa Kamal Pasha]