How are specific (i.e. orange blossom) honeys produced?

flowersandthings(MidAtlantic 6/7)October 19, 2004

I know nothing about bee keeping and honestly have very little interest in it.... but loooove honey..... I love all different varieites.. How though.... do honey makers..... beekeepers..... produce honey from certain plants????? How do they keep the bees from straying????? Wildflower honey makes sense but how do you get orange blossom honey, sage honey, tupelo honey,lehua honey, fireweed honey, buckwheat honey, lavender honey etc. ???? :)

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neil_allen(z5/6 Chi IL)

I looked into lavender honey because we've got hundreds of lavender plants, and thousands of local honeybees are all over them when they're in flower. The bee people at our farmers' market said that the only lavender honey they knew of was produced by infusing regular honey with lavender oil.

In a way, that makes sense, because for really big-time lavender production -- acres rather than hundreds of plants -- you'd get crews or even mechanical pickers in to harvest everything at the very beginning of the bloom. Also, pollination doesn't help lavender grown for flowers and oil, so there's no reason to truck in hives

    Bookmark   October 20, 2004 at 11:34AM
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treebeard(z5 MA)

Bees will travel about a mile and a half from the hive in search of nectar...maybe up to two miles. If everything growing and flowering within that circle is basically one the blueberry farms of Maine, thick as bees on honey and all flowering at the same time, then it's a pretty safe bet that honey from hives in that area will be predominantly blueberry honey (honey produced by the bees from the nectar of blueberry flowers). I don't know if there's any way to determine if it's absolutely 100% nothing else added blueberry honey, but if there's little else flowering in the area when the honey is taken off the hives, it's reasonable to call it blueberry honey. Same with clover...and perhaps your orange blossom...honey.

It's a timing thing, too. In order to keep the 'blueberry honey' title on the label, the beekeeper has to be sure that he's removed the honey from the hives just as the blueberry nectar flow ends, and other things are beginning to blossom.

When hives are located in an area that's as varied in it's flowering plants at any one time as most of the world is (outside of farming and orchard territories), the best a beekeeper can do is refer to his/her product as wildflower honey. That pretty much covers all the bases.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2004 at 12:45PM
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flowersandthings(MidAtlantic 6/7)

I've had lavender honey once before that I don't think was infused..... It was imported and fairly expensive I got it at a local farmer's market/gourmet shop..... Here's one place that sells lavender honey...... scroll to the bottom...... :)

Here is a link that might be useful: lavender honey link :)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2004 at 3:53PM
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kcassidy(7 Maryland)

An orange blossom honey, or locust honey is generally not 100% of that type. Bees generally will forge on one specific plant type when it's blooming, thus orange blossom, or locust, or like here in Maryland the Tulip Poplar. This 'single minded forgeing habit' is what makes bees so useful for pollination, if the apples are in blossom, they will concentrate on apples, thus ensuring that the blossoms are pollinated.

You could, with the help of an expert, evaluate the type of pollen in the honey as well, but that's pushing it.

mike Cassidy,

    Bookmark   October 25, 2004 at 12:15AM
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Mike Cassidy hit it right on the head. If we call it sourwood honey,thats VA's sweetest honey, it has to be at least 51% before it can be labeled. Some of the bigger producers send it off for testing. And if you are watching your hives you can pull off the supers used for a specific bloom and have a comfort level that it is that blooms flavor or type.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 9:54AM
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