1. Apiculture and Meliponiculture
Beekeeping is an emerging activity on small farms around the world, as well as in regions where diversification of food products is essential for generating income and subsistence for families. Meliponicultural and beekeeping activities, when well managed, are profitable, with low environmental impact and require little input. But in addition to the products of the colony, there are still the benefits of cross-pollination performed by these insects, considered the most important among all animals. In many rural properties, there are inexhaustible sources of food for bees, and the pollination process carried out by them benefits agricultural crops, generating higher yields of fruits and seeds.
Among the products of the colony, honey occupies a prominent place in production, mainly because it is a valuable source of food and much appreciated due to its sweet aroma and flavor. It is estimated that in the world, there are more than 20,000 species of bees , but the bee
Meliponine bees produce less honey compared to
2. Honey properties
The floral honey produced by the bees originates from the nectar of the flowers and the extra floral honey from aphide excretion, after collection; they transform it using specific substances, then store, and let it mature in the colony, in pots of honey (stingless bees) or combs (
The expanding world honey market has intensified efforts to authenticate and characterize honey, as they play an important role for both consumers and producers. The authenticity of honey is defined internationally by the Codex Alimentarius , which establishes the identity and essential quality requirements of honey intended for human consumption. These standards are applied to honey produced by bees and cover all styles of honey presentations, which are processed and ultimately intended for human consumption. Studies for the authentication of honey involve various analysis techniques in order to determine the botanical and geographical origin of honey, as well as of unauthorized substances.
Honey can be called unifloral or multifloral depending on the percentage of specific pollen types present in its composition. The richness and diversity of bee or honey flora, both from wild and cultivated plants, can give rise to a variety of honey with different properties. Many studies seek to identify specific chemical markers for unifloral honey based on the analysis of data on the composition of volatile compounds, phenolic acids, flavonoids, carbohydrates, amino acids, and some other constituents of honey. However, the identification of reliable chemical markers for the discrimination of honey collected from different floral resources is still difficult due to the chemical composition of honey also depending on other factors, such as geographical origin, harvest season, storage method, bee species, and even interactions between chemical compounds and honey enzymes (Kaškonienė; Venskutonis, ).
In addition, the results of the honey’s chemical constituents may depend on sample preparation and analysis techniques. Traditionally, physicochemical and melissopalynological analyses have been the most used to determine the botanical origin of honey. However, these techniques when performed individually can provide ambiguous results, making it difficult to discriminate between uni- and multifloral honey. Estevinho et al.  analyzed 112 samples of unifloral honey from
The global concern is to carry out more and more a characterization of regional honey to strengthen local markets, such as this one from a region of Mexico, that presents the advances in the characterization of botanical origin of stingless bees’ honey, and the analysis of their physicochemical properties in the Alto Balsas, Michoacan, Mexico, or this which aims at botanical characterization of
It is hoped that this book will help in the discussion on the identification/location of honey, as well as in the creation and/or updating of standard norms at the national and even international level.