Yellow or golden, rapeseed, acacia or summer flower: honey comes in many varieties. What they have in common, what makes them different: Nau explains it.
the essential in short
- Bees are important pollinators – and it is because of them that we have honey.
- Pure types of honey are created when the bees always use the same source.
- We have about twenty types of flower honey plus a handful of honeydew.
Small collectors with great yield: bees are on the move on flowers and trees all over the world. In Germany, for example, rapeseed, acacia and lime honey are among the known varieties.
Beekeeper Marion Hoffmann knows how they occur.
How many types of honey do we have?
First of all, it must be said that honey can be differentiated in different ways, for example according to the way it was obtained. There is centrifugal, but also pressed, dripping or semi honey.
Comb honey, on the other hand, is a specific type of supply. In addition, a distinction is made between flower honey and honeydew by origin.
The latter are differentiated again: There are general designations, such as summer flower or forest honey, where different plants are contained in different proportions.
On the other hand, there are the specific types of honey, for example rapeseed honey for flower honey or spruce honey for honeydew.
What is your personal favorite?
It is not specific, but I prefer light honey from the spring feed – the harvest of bees for honey production is called feed.
It can be rapeseed honey or a spring flower honey, which contains maple as well as rapeseed and dandelion, which then gives the very light honey a slightly yellowish color.
What exactly is it that gives honey their particular color, and why are some solid and others liquid?
In general, flower honey tends to be lighter and honeydew tends to be darker, although there are exceptions.
Various factors are involved in the color: First, the pigments from the nectar. The bees extract water from this, which enhances the color. Cornflower honey, for example, is extremely yellow.
On the other hand, yellow-orange dyes are also released from the pollen. And it has to do with sugar composition. Crystallized glucose looks white due to light reflection. It is because these sugars are prevalent in rapeseed honey that they are so light.
Finally, there is also a staining due to ongoing conversion processes, which is the case above all with honeydew.
Whether honey is solid or liquid has to do with the ratio of the main sugars glucose to fructose. Roughly speaking: with more fructose it stays liquid, if there is more glucose it becomes firm, with a balanced ratio it becomes supple.
How do you get honeydew at all and why is it usually more expensive?
The bees do not collect nectar from flowers, but instead sugary secretions from insects that suck on plants.
Aphids or aphids, for example, dot the spruce needles and secrete the excess, the so-called honeydew. These drops are then ingested by the bees.
The higher stakes are certainly reflected in the price. Because large areas of forest are needed, beekeepers usually have to migrate to these areas with their bees. The respective journey costs time and fuel.
How does it really work that the bees only collect the desired variety?
Bees are floral and sedentary. This means that if a bee has identified a good source, such as a rapeseed field, it will fly there again and again.
There are also so-called sporbees. Once they have found a good source of costumes, they recruit their colleagues with a dance.
Bees have a flight radius of two to four kilometers, which corresponds to an area of at least twelve square kilometers. They travel a good distance when it’s worth it.
So, for example, if there is a field with sunflower or an avenue with linden trees within this radius, it may result in a single variety honey.
Sometimes the honey in the jar is crumbly and crystalline – where does it come from and how do you get rid of it?
If the honey is crystallized too coarsely, the beekeeper has usually not stirred enough in it. This is not a lack of quality for the consumer, but a lack of enjoyment. Then a gentle warm-up is recommended, which should not exceed 40 degrees.
You can put the glass on the lukewarm heater for a while or heat it up in a water bath. However, you should check the temperature. Excessive heat damages the valuable enzymes in the honey.
When the heated honey has a soft consistency, stir it well. Then the sugar crystals dissolve.
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