Bees and frankincense trees have an ancient evolutionary partnership, each supporting and benefiting the other. The frankincense trees produce fragrant, white flowers that the bees will fly up to 2 miles to visit! The trees provide the bees with nutritious nectar, and help guide the bees to the right flowers.
Once a flower has been pollinated and drained of its nectar, the small orange disk in the center of the flower turns a deep red, letting the bees know they can move on to a different flower. By pollinating the flowers, the bees help ensure a thriving, healthy population of frankincense trees--and by giving the bees nectar, the trees help the bees produce honey, providing them sustenance.
Frankincense is natural medicine. The trees create it to defend themselves from pathogens, diseases, and bugs. The bees know this too, and they purposefully gather the resin from natural exudations or from the harvesting taps. You can see in the photo small white specks on the bees’ legs--this is the frankincense resin that they’ve collected! The bees bring it back to the hive and use it to create propolis, a mixture of resin and beeswax that helps keep the hive healthy and defends the bees from microbes, bacteria, and fungi. As a result of the bees’ resin collection, frankincense is integrated into the hive. Frankincense is even ingrained into the honey itself.
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