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Wildflower honey

Wildflower honey- is a honey produced from nectar, collected from a large variety of blossoms of different botanical origin leading to absence of dominating species of single type plant nectar. It is for that reason also called polyfloral or wildflower honey. Such honey type is very valuable - in terms of bioactivity as it contains a lot of phenol and flavonoid compounds, leading to high enzyme capacity. This is important not just for us but also for the bees. Rich botanical content of honey, leads to a better diet and, consequently, improved health of the bees. Regardless if it's bees of humans, rich and nutritious diet make a difference. Sadly, true wildflower honey is becoming more rare. Landscapes of developed countries is subject to intense agriculture and monoculture growth. Wild meadows are pushed out. This is also the reason why rapeseed honey is so popular in Western Europe. Even though it is the least bioactive of all honey types, it is one that is abundantly available, and thus popular. Other drawback of intense agriculture and monoculture cultivation is pesticide, herbicides and insecticides. Sadly, they make it to the hive in terms of pollen, honey, wax and propolis, and from the hive they get to bees and us. But if you care about honey a bit more than just a sweetener, then it really matters where its foraged (not bottled).

Lithuania's region of East Aukštaitija is till dominated by wild landscapes due to difficult hilly and swampy terrain. This makes intense agriculture challenging and offers opportunity for wild meadows, swamps and forests to flourish and provides rich natural habitat for very diverse flora and fauna. Also this is the source of genuine wildflower honey - every time different, unique to the location of the apiary- just like a fingerprint [1].

Within 1.57 km radius around our apiary (an average bee forage distance) - lies around 300 ha of wild meadows, 200 ha of swamp and marshland and 150 ha of forest.

Early summer harvest comes from willows, maple trees and dandelion. If the spring is cooler, first harvest is combined with wild cherries, pears and some orchards. 1st harvest typically is end of May earliest but can also be as late as mid-June. In our latitudes, beekeepers take pride if they can take the first harvest prior to orchard bloom - then the honey is mainly willow, maples and dandelion. The latter even affects the wax color- which is yellow orange and becomes usual white by the time midsummer harvest is harvested.

Midsummer honey is a wild mix of all kind of weeds and herbs, such as raspberry, cow vetch, ground elder, meadowsweet, meadow clover, white clover, wild carrot, sweet clover, sainfoin and linden. Also, in hotter summer, some forest honey dew will be already present. This honey is harvested end of June, first week of July.

Late summer honey is harvested first week of August and can be rightly labeled as herbal honey, as our meadows fill with en-masse wild oregano, hillsides fill up with thyme, chicory, common agrimony, St. John's worth, loosestrife, fireweed and a strong addition of forest honeydew.

If you care about the taste of honey more than just a sweetener, my suggestion for choosing honey would be to pay attention to the color of honey. The darker the honey - the more bioactive it is. For instance, rapeseed honey is nearly color less, and white when crystallized (this happens in days). Whereas even the earliest wildflower honey will be amber in color and will be slower to crystalize ( the later harvest, the slower to crystallize) [2].

Another advice is to pay attention to the geographical location of the apiary of the origin. Simple google maps satellite view might already provide valuable insights if the honey is what it claims to be.

4 points on wildflower honey

  1. Pollen diversity.

  2. Rich in phenols and flavonoids.

  3. Slow to crystallize ( weeks to months)

  4. Amber, red amber and dark red amber in color.


[2] Laura, Scripca & Norocel, Liliana & Amariei, Sonia. (2019). Comparison of Physicochemical, Microbiological Properties and Bioactive Compounds Content of Grassland Honey and other Floral Origin Honeys. Molecules. 24. 2932. 10.3390/molecules24162932.

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