Honey is an important commodity used in most households across the world. The naturally occurring substance has been used to sweeten dishes as well as for curing quite a few ailments since ancient times. The usage of honey can be traced back to the physicians in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome with frequent references in Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and several other manuscripts from thousands of years ago. The popularity of this natural sweetener continues to be the same, even to this day.
How do Bees Make Flavored Honey?
As it is commonly known, bees forage the area near their hives for flowering plants to collect the sweet nectar and turn into honey for the nourishment of their brood. What is interesting is that bees can make flavored honey based on the availability of flowers in the vicinity of their hives. The floral pasturage plays a significant role in determining not only the color and the texture of the honey but also its taste.
So how exactly do honeybees make flavored honey? If the bees happen to collect the nectar from a single flower species, the peculiar flavor of that flower is naturally infused into the honey along with its properties and goodness. Beekeepers collect this naturally flavored honey from the beehives by harvesting as soon as the flowering season of the nearest species ends. It is a common practice to move beehives from place to place to offer pollination services and obtain flavored honey at the same time.
Types of Honey
All varieties and flavors of honey can be divided into two broad categories – uniflora (monofloral) and multiflora (polyfloral). As the name aptly suggests, uniflora honey is produced when the bees visit only a particular flower, the nectar and pollen of which determine the flavor and properties of the honey. As for multiflora, it is produced when bees collect nectar from multiple species of flowers at the same time. The multiflora range can include a variety of different combinations based on the geographical location of beehives.
Flavors of Honey and Their Benefits
Honey is available in a plethora of flavors. Let us dig deep into some of the best flavors and their health benefits to help you make the right choice.
1. Acacia Honey
Produced when bees exclusively pollinate the nectar from the black locust or false acacia trees, Acacia honey is light in color and possesses a flower-like aroma. Its high in fructose and its crystallization process is slower compared to most other types of honey. This honey derives its health benefits from the natural antioxidants like flavonoids and beta-carotene present in it. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties along with the ability to cure cough, throat irritation, heal wounds or burns, and improve athletic performance.
2. Ajwain Honey
Ajwain honey is produced when bees collect nectar from Ajwain or Bishop’s weed trees. High in Omega 6 fatty acids, this honey is dark in color and has an intense flavor. It is recommended for diabetic patients as it helps control sugar levels. Featuring antibacterial properties, it also helps relieve acidity and indigestion, and cures toothache and cold.
3. Alfalfa Honey
A comparatively less common flavor, the Alfalfa honey is produced by bees pollinating the purple flowers of the Alfalfa plants. This flavor of honey tends to have a delicate taste that’s slightly less sweet which is why it is usually preferred for cooking. The light amber-colored honey also has a faint floral aroma and a high glucose content causing it to crystallize fairly quickly. Alfalfa honey is a probiotic, containing several minerals and vitamins that make it a natural energy booster. Its list of health benefits includes antibacterial and wound-healing properties, along with the ability to counter anemia, lower cholesterol levels, calm your nerves, lower fever as well as suppressing your appetite.
4. Avocado Honey
Obtained when bees pollinate avocado flowers, this flavor of honey is dark amber in color and has a rather buttery taste. Apt for cooking and baking, the honey is rich in minerals like potassium, copper, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and sulfur. It helps boost immunity, detoxifies the body, and cures cough. The honey also contains natural antioxidants and polyphenols and is highly recommended for insomniacs and anemics.
5. Buckwheat Honey
Made from the nectar sourced from Buckwheat flowers, this honey has a slightly reddish tint and a relatively less sweet taste. This is a highly beneficial flavor containing antioxidants, capable of reversing some types of DNA mutations. It can boost the levels of antioxidants in the body, heal wounds by preventing bacterial growth, cure cough and sore throat, and reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
6. Chestnut Honey
Chestnut honey is obtained from the sweet chestnut trees and has a strong pungent aroma with a mildly sweet flavor and a slightly bitter aftertaste. The dark-colored honey rich in mineral salts, tannin, pollen content, and vitamins, can cure sore throat, bronchitis, colds, flu, cough, hoarseness, and ulcers. This antimicrobial, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-septic honey is great for the circulatory system and helps relieve cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems. It is also helpful for people suffering from nervousness, hysteria, insomnia, and neurasthenia.
7. Clover Honey
The nectar derived from clover plants is preferred by bees and is thus a commonly found flavor. It is light in color and has a rather mild taste. Along with natural antioxidants, phenolic acid, and flavanols, this flavor of honey contains various minerals, nutrients, vitamins, and natural sugars. A perfect replacement for table sugar, it boasts antiviral and antibacterial properties as well.
8. Dandelion Honey
Dandelion honey is a rare type of honey produced using dandelion nectar. The bright yellow-colored honey turns amber-colored as it ages and has a strong smell just like the dandelion flower. It also has a pungent but slightly sweet taste that sets it apart from the other types of honey. The raw unprocessed version of the honey features antioxidant and antibacterial properties to help minimize the chances of cancer and cure bacterial infections. The relatively higher levels of apalbumin 1, a type of royal jelly, make it a natural immunity booster. This honey can also reduce the acidity of gastric juices by half to enhance kidney, liver, and bowel functioning.
9. Eucalyptus Honey
Eucalyptus honey is darker in color than most other types of honey and possesses a strong but sweet taste with a medicinal aftertaste. Its pungent minty smell is reminiscent of the tree itself. Its crystallization process is also quite quick. The vast health benefits of this type of honey include mental health stimulation, wound healing, curing cough, congestion, and respiratory problems, maintaining oral hygiene, easing joint pain, and relaxing sore muscles. It is also known for its strong anti-inflammatory, therapeutic, germicidal, and anti-septic properties.
10. Jamun Honey
Jamun or Java Plum Honey is dark in color and has a bitter-sweet taste. It boasts a low glycemic index and a 1:1 ratio of fructose and glucose that make it a perfect sweetener for diabetic patients. The honey is good for high blood pressure, skin problems, periodontal infections, and ulcers. Its health benefits also include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and the ability to cure cardiovascular diseases. Jamun honey is widely used as a sedative and calming agent.
11. Lavender Honey
Derived from the nectar of lavender flowers, this honey has a floral flavor and aroma that is reminiscent of the lavender flower. White to light amber in color, the honey develops fine granules as it ages. Lavender honey has multiple health benefits including antimycotic, antioxidant, antispasmodic, and anticonvulsant properties. It also comes in handy for healing wounds. One of the major benefits of lavender honey is the presence of tyrosine, a primary amino acid that is beneficial for humans.
12. Lychee honey
Made from fresh lychee blossoms, Lychee honey is amber in color and smooth in texture. It has a sweet flavor profile resembling the taste of the lychee fruit along with an aromatic fragrance. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, lychee honey is a natural remedy for respiratory problems. It is a go-to option for skincare and has been found to have anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Lychee honey should be consumed regularly to improve overall health and improve bone strength, especially of women and children.
13. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is a popular flavor of honey native to New Zealand. Boasting a unique and intense flavor profile, the honey is medium sweet with a mildly bitter aftertaste with color ranging from light amber to medium amber. It crystallizes fairly slowly. Regular consumption of Manuka honey has been found to be beneficial for health. This antibacterial and antiviral honey can heal cuts, scrapes, and wounds along with clearing infections. It also boosts immunity, eases stomach aches, improves digestion, and provides energy.
14. Mustard Honey
The sweet and pleasant tasting mustard honey is light yellow in color and features an aromatic fragrance. Derived from the nectar extracted from mustard flowers, this honey can be used for lowering cholesterol levels, maintaining glycogen level, and reducing the risk of heart attacks. It also heals burns, cures sore throat and cough, and improves the texture of your hair and skin.
15. Neem Honey
Neem honey is darker than most varieties of honey and features relatively more antioxidants. It has a rich taste that is slightly bitter. Neem honey is made from the nectar collected from Neem or Indian Lilac tree and features several medicinal properties. It is commonly used as a remedy for inflammation and for regulating high blood pressure. The honey also has anti-septic properties and cures cough, skin problems, and allergies.
16. Orange Blossom Honey
A perfect replacement for sugar, the light amber-colored Orange Blossom honey is sweet with a slight citrus flavor and has a relatively thick consistency with a mild citrusy smell. Made from the nectar derived from multiple citrus trees in an orange grove, the honey is a natural antioxidant with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. A natural immuno-booster, it can help fight against pathogens like E. Coli and staph bacteria. Rich in minerals, it is suitable for people suffering from allergies and is also helpful for digestion, wound healing, and curing sore throats.
17. Rosemary Honey
Rosemary honey comes from the Mediterranean regions and its production largely depends on the weather conditions. White to extra light in color, it has herbaceous taste with a delicate sweetness and a forest-like woody aroma. The anti-inflammatory honey with tonic properties is a natural moisturizer for the skin. It is also used to treat liver and intestinal conditions and stomach diseases.
18. Sage Honey
Sage honey comes in multiple varieties depending on the type of sage flowers in the vicinity of the hives. It has a delicate and sweet flavor with a floral aftertaste and a sweet aroma. The color of most varieties of Sage honey ranges between light amber and golden amber, but greenish-yellow sage honey is also available in the market. Honey derived from purple sage flowers is the only exception with a deep purple color. Sage honey is also rich in antioxidants and pre- and pro-biotics. A natural remedy for cold and flu, the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial honey is also used as an expectorant and topical anti-septic.
19. Sidr Honey
Sidr (Indian Jujube) honey is obtained when bees exclusively feed on the nectar of Sidr trees. This unique dark-colored honey possesses the Sidr aroma and is moderately sweet in taste. It is great for health as it boosts immunity and increases bone strength. The honey also protects the liver, detoxifies the blood, relieves stress, and reduces cholesterol. This antibiotic and antibacterial honey is also helpful for improving digestion and maintaining weight.
20. Wildflower Honey
Honey derived from the nectar of multiple species of flowers is called Wildflower honey. The flavor, texture, and aroma of this honey differ as they largely depend on the season and blossoms in the region. This type of honey can be consumed for boosting immunity, improving digestion, maintaining weight, and boosting metabolism. It can also be used for curing cough, cold, congestion, wounds, ulcers, and nutrient deficiency.
All types and flavors of honey possess some beneficial properties that improve health and boost immunity. However, it is important to make sure the honey is raw and unprocessed as pasteurization and ultrafiltration tend to remove the natural enzymes and antioxidants from honey. Thus, wholesale honey suppliers offering sustainably sourced raw honey should be considered for obtaining flavored honey in bulk.