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Tulip poplar, Credit: Dcrjsr, Duke University

Today’s beekeeping vocabulary word is “Nectar.”

As is the case with many beekeepers, I sell honey. Mostly at farmer’s markets, food co-ops, and local events and festivals.  I am always amazed at the how eager people are to learn more about honey bees and beekeeping. But one thing that very often opens their eyes in a big way is when I mention that every drop of honey in my jars is from the nectar of flowers. “What, from flowers?” I gently explain that flowers very often contain a sweet syrup in them and that’s one of the things the bees are gathering. Almost everyone remembers childhood days of sucking honeysuckle flowers so when I mention this a lightbulb comes on for them. I sure do get a kick out the occasional person that has just simply never thought about it though. They usually walk away saying, “Wow, I never through of that!”

From Wikipedia:

Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by plants in glands called nectaries, either within the flowers with which it attracts pollinating animals, or by extrafloral nectaries, which provide a nutrient source to animal mutualists, which in turn provide antiherbivore protection. Common nectar-consuming pollinators include mosquitoes, hoverflies, wasps, bees, butterflies and moths, hummingbirds, and bats. Nectar plays an important role in the foraging economics and overall evolution of nectar-eating species; for example, nectar and its properties are responsible for the differential evolution of the African honey bee, A. m. scutellata and the western honey bee.

Nectar is an ecologically important item, the sugar source for honey. It is also useful in agriculture and horticulture because the adult stages of some predatory insects feed on nectar. For example, the social wasp species Apoica flavissima relies on nectar as a primary food source. In turn, these wasps then hunt agricultural pest insects as food for their young. For example, thread-waisted wasps (genus Ammophila) are known for hunting caterpillars that are destructive to crops. Caterpillars however, do eventually become butterflies and moths, which are very important pollinators.[citation needed]

Nectar secretion increases as the flower is visited by pollinators. After pollination, the nectar is frequently reabsorbed into the plant.[1]

More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nectar