"The more woody the plant, the darker the honey"

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I heard this old chestnut when I was taking part in a honey tasting last week. Can't say I'm convinced given that at least some of my honey must come from tree flowers and I've never noticed anything particularly dark.

So what (UK) flowers do produce very dark colour honey?

James
 
The color of the honey is indifferent to the "woodiness" or robustness of the species. Counterexamples.
eucalyptus produce a light honey while gorse and broom is dark and slightly bitter.
Light color: pome, stone and citrus fruit trees or shrubs and herbs such as lavender, rosemary, brassicas, blackberries, raspberry.
Dark color: chestnut, heather, gorse and oak honeydew.
 
I heard this old chestnut when I was taking part in a honey tasting last week. Can't say I'm convinced given that at least some of my honey must come from tree flowers and I've never noticed anything particularly dark.

So what (UK) flowers do produce very dark colour honey?

James
When you guys post photos of your honey I'm always struck by how light it is.
 
I was about to say the opposite about eucalyptus honey :confused:
Light or dark are subjective perceptions. You would really have to do optical density analysis, generally by comparison with a pfund scale. Lowest value 9 (White/Transparent) to highest value 114 (dark amber). Eucalyptus honey could be considered around the midpoint (light amber).
 
Speaking of dark honeys, I got this in Tenerife, it’s different from our heather honey but the description says it’s mainly heather. Doesn’t taste like our heather either. Very nice though! Also a spring honey.

FBE6CF37-0AD9-4D9A-88F9-34018FA71BDE.pngE54191BA-979B-4459-9966-005D269148FB.pngED3C506C-74E5-4198-BFF7-1A2343BB8F01.jpeg6423EF55-9C3F-4D62-B564-40919A161BB4.png
 
I heard this old chestnut when I was taking part in a honey tasting last week. Can't say I'm convinced given that at least some of my honey must come from tree flowers and I've never noticed anything particularly dark.

So what (UK) flowers do produce very dark colour honey?

James
Common Lime to horse chestnut - I'm lucky to have both (and more) here and all very old trees.


L2C.png
 
Speaking of dark honeys, I got this in Tenerife, it’s different from our heather honey but the description says it’s mainly heather. Doesn’t taste like our heather either. Very nice though! Also a spring honey.
Spanish heather types in general have a different flavour and colour to that from the UK, and even within the UK there are variations. The minority honey types in them gives a different colour, often darker and reddish rather than the more orange here.

However, the most common dark honey we produce is Bell Heather, Erica cineria. In Spanish and in particular Canarias the most common yielder is Erica arborea. It does have a somewhat different flavour and colour to OUR bell heather but is nonetheless sold as heather honey, or tree heather.

If going for something to completely blow the theory out of the water go the other way. Acacia (more precisely the false acacia, Robinia pseudacacia)...one of the whitest and mildest yet delicious honey types out there. Nowadays grows widely in SE England esp around London....and they don't come a lot woodier than this tree. Its one of the favoured firewoods in its range as it is very hard and burns with a high heat output. (Irrelevant I know but just interesting.)

In support of Antipodes, we used to handle a fair amount of eucalypt honey in the distant past. Very variable according to species all the way from Extra Light Amber (ELA) to Medium Amber. Most common would be Light Amber which in all honesty is a misnomer as it is anything but light when in the jar. A friend still does handle a fair amount though much of it is now from India rather than Australia. It is also an amber honey rather than pale. I have to confess I really enjoy the taste of Eucalypt honey.
 
Hypothesis about the color of honey.
Because bees collect nectar and pollen most of the year, it could be that as degree days increase throughout the season, plants add "melanins" to protect the nectar from degradation. Therefore the amount of "melanins" in July is much higher than in April. The concentration of these substances in the acid/sugar substrate is what determines the final color of the product.
 
Speaking of dark honeys, I got this in Tenerife, it’s different from our heather honey but the description says it’s mainly heather. Doesn’t taste like our heather either. Very nice though! Also a spring honey.

That looks like something I might use when soldering copper tube :)

James
 
If going for something to completely blow the theory out of the water go the other way. Acacia (more precisely the false acacia, Robinia pseudacacia)...one of the whitest and mildest yet delicious honey types out there. Nowadays grows widely in SE England esp around London....and they don't come a lot woodier than this tree. It’s one of the favoured firewoods in its range as it is very hard and burns with a high heat output.
First came across Robina back in the 80s an old beekeeper I help had a large tree in his garden that on occasion when in flower was covered in bees. About the same time my mum planted a couple of the cultivated trees that had a yellow leaf but suckers and seedlings produced the natural type.
I’m seeing ever increasing amounts around me on sides of roads/motorways/hedgerows any rough ground appears favourite. It flowers around me late May and that’s our June gap ironically! So is of some benefit. However I suspect it requires good weather/temps and the flowers are easily stripped by rain and storms, I’ve seen the ground bellow trees covered in the petals after rough weather. Given warming weather and the rate this tree spreads could we be looking at Surrey acacia honey in the near future😂
 
Hypothesis about the color of honey.
Because bees collect nectar and pollen most of the year, it could be that as degree days increase throughout the season, plants add "melanins" to protect the nectar from degradation. Therefore the amount of "melanins" in July is much higher than in April. The concentration of these substances in the acid/sugar substrate is what determines the final color of the product.
My bees collect a lot of Rosebay ( Fireweed) in July if the weather is hot. The honey is really pale. Hawthorn honey if I’m lucky to get it in May is much darker
 
My bees collect a lot of Rosebay ( Fireweed) in July if the weather is hot. The honey is really pale. Hawthorn honey if I’m lucky to get it in May is much darker
Nice way to throw a hypothesis to the ground, it didn't even last 5 minutes. However, searching the internet it seems that I have found one of those responsible for the color, and he is an old acquaintance. The presence of quercitrin in greater quantities in plants that cause dark honey (hawthorn, oak, buckwheat).
 
The honey that caused the comment was much darker than these. More akin to the darker (or even darkest) in this photo:



James

Interesting, came across this last year from the Birmingham beekeepers association -

P1020336.jpeg

Honeydew from Aphids​

 
The honey that caused the comment was much darker than these. More akin to the darker (or even darkest) in this photo:



James

Was that at the flower show or do they have their own competition?
 

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