Honey is much more than sweet sticky stuff - its full of flowery goodness
Keeping honeybees is a fascinating window into the natural world. Their honey tastes great but it also tells a story - where do the bees go and what do they do? I wanted to know more about this story - so, I got our honey DNA tested!
Pollen from flowers and trees - Forget-me-nots, Gorse, Oil Seed Rape, Silver Birch and Wild Cherry.
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology runs a scheme to test the pollen DNA in honey. Working with about 200 beekeepers, the centre aims to understand the overall health of the countryside. Honey sampling helps them do this and we get to know what's in our honey!
Our's had pollen from several flowers. Pollen from Forget-me-nots was the most common. The pollen grains are really tiny (some of the smallest in the plant world) and actually get sucked up as the bee sucks up the nectar. Others included gorse and crop flowers such as oil seed rape, beans and cabbage. Tree pollen was also in there, which surprised me - silver birch, wild cherry and sycamore.
Honey from different locations will have different types of pollen - depending on the crops and flowers nearby. When I bottle Harry's Honey I work hard to keep as much of this pollen in as possible. It really adds to the taste and makes each year special. Sadly, most supermarket honey has the pollen filtered out. If you want the real taste of summer, local coarse filtered honey is the way to go. If you'd like to know more about our honey and how we handle it, check out our FAQ page.
Of course, pollen is what causes hay fever so if you'd like to know more about honey and hay fever, read our thoughts here.
WHY DO BEES LOVE IT?
Honeybees use pollen for the fat and protein it contains - a bit like our "meat and two veg". They feed it to their developing young. It's just as important as nectar/honey for a growing colony. In the spring and summer bees seek out pollen sources - in spring this might be cherry trees and goat willow (pussy willows) while later in the year it might be Geranium and Horse Chestnut.