“I didn’t know that honeys could taste so different from each other!”
This is a common thing we hear when we engage with customers and they get to try our honeys side by side.
It is so rewarding to see people’s interest in learning more about honey, how it is produced and why they are so different once you give them the chance to experience variety on an educational way.
We will try to put in written words and we usually tell people during demos and tastings so that you can also understand a little bit more about why there is so much variety out there.
Flowers forming Varietals
As you know from our previous post “What is Honey”, bees collect nectar and pollen from different plants. Different flowers contain different nectar, which, after being processed by the bees through extensive team work, yield different honeys.
If the nectar collected originates largely from a single species of plant, the honey produced from it is called mono floral or single varietal honey – take our Angico, Aroeira and Marmeleiro honeys for example. When bees collect nectar from many different plants and there is no “predominant” nectar source the honey is usually called a wildflower honey – like our Silvestre- or it is named after the season when it is harvested: summer, spring, winter and fall.
How can you possibly know what the bees are foraging?
When we say that beekeeping is an activity that really puts you in contact with nature we really mean it. Beekeepers need to know what is blooming and where it is blooming in order to be able to harvest a varietal honey.
Honey Bees are a very special type of pollinator. They are very loyal. Once they find a good source of nectar they will take advantage of it and keep coming back for more. Once that source is depleted they move on to the next one.
In order to explain this better we will use an example from our current honey portfolio: our Marmeleiro Honey.
The Marmeleiro plant (Croton sonderianus ) is a very common plant in the Caatinga, and it is one of the first plants to bloom after the first summer rains pour around January. Beekeepers know that, and they know that if they harvest the honey produced after this first bloom, they can call it a Marmeleiro Honey. If they wait too long, nectar from other plants will get mixed to what has been already harvested, and the varietal honey will get “diluted”, turning into a Wildflower Honey.
It is truly a matter of observation of nature.
Pollen content in Varietal Honeys
There is a misconception that a varietal honey has to contain 100% pollen from only one species of plant. This is practically impossible, because we cannot control where bees go. Pollen from other plants other than the plant which gives its name to the varietal honey will always be found.
One interesting thing to keep in mind is that different species of plants produce different quantities of nectar and pollen. This means that even if you analyze the pollen content of a honey and you find out that 80% of the total pollen comes from plant A, the nectar collected for producing the honey might be, in great majority, from plant B, or C.
This makes it tricky to establish what a honey is; therefore, we always say that your palate is your best quality control measure!