If you’re a huge fan of cooking, spreading, and enjoying honey like we are, then you can probably name a few of your favorites. But are you able to say if they’re monofloral or polyfloral?
While polyfloral honey production occurs when the nectar comes from an assortment of plants (prefix “poly” meaning “many”), monofloral honey is, in theory, produced from the nectar of only one plant (“mono” meaning “single”). In reality, it appears these two aren’t so different after all.
From the mild, light-amber, blueberry honey to the complex, amber fireweed honey, each variety has a unique flavor profile and mouthfeel. It all depends on the type of blossom from which the bee gathered nectar. Since it’s from a mixture of nectars, polyfloral honey takes on the taste and texture of the primary plant in the honey concoction.
Our team at Asheville Bee Charmer is here to explore the difference between monofloral honey and polyfloral honey so you can go back to the fun art of tasting!
Monofloral vs. Polyfloral Honey
When a honeybee gathers nectar (sugary liquid) from a plant to store in their honey stomach, they will convert it into honey (through an amazing process of ingestion and regurgitation). This honey is then passed into the cell of a honeycomb.
It stands to reason that polyfloral honey is an easier process to happen in nature because bees typically travel to several different kinds of plants in their pursuit of nectar. On average, bees travel two to four miles away from their hives to find nectar and pollen for their forage (food supply).
When monofloral production is the goal, beekeepers are given a challenging task (since bees can hardly be told what to do). The beekeepers must restrict their bee colony to an area where the plant of choice is most concentrated. But how can the beekeeper reasonably expect the bees to only go to certain flowers?
It’s the art of timing. In addition to situating the hives in areas where the flower of choice blooms, beekeepers also keep close tabs on when certain plants are blooming (since that is when their nectar is available for the bees). Beekeepers can plan on removing the full honey supers (box with frames for honey collection) and scrape off the honey just in time for the next plant to flower. This helps keep the honey from different flowers separated. For polyfloral honey production, the beekeeper keeps a close eye on when similar species of plants are blooming because chances are high that nearby bees will be visiting some of those buds.
The Delicious Monofloral Notes of Sourwood Honey
As you know, honey for sale is named after the type of plant the nectar comes from. Flowering plants include spring and summer bulbs, annuals, perennials and biennials, shrubs, trees, and even weeds. With most monofloral honey, the primary honey variety is the name of the honey. Common polyfloral honeys include the word “wildflower” to indicate the nectar was from many blooms flowering at the same time.
Let’s take Sourwood Honey for instance. Sourwood honey has a beautiful straw color, and a soft, buttery, caramel aftertaste. The Sourwood Tree is found primarily in the Appalachian Mountains. Every August in the North Carolina mountains, beekeepers are ready and waiting to capture one of the most sought after monofloral honeys in the whole world. After buzzing honeybees feed on the sweet nectar of those beautiful fleecy white flowers that hang low on the sourwood trees, beekeepers can time their removal just right.
What About Raw Honey? Infused Honey?
All of Asheville Bee Charmer’s honey is raw. Raw honey hasn’t been processed, heated, or filtered. It can be monofloral or polyfloral, depending on if it comes from one species of plant or multiple.
So where does infused honey come in? This is something completely different. With Infused honey, dried herbs and other flavorings are added to jarred raw honey. Every week, the honey is tested (lucky us!) every couple of days (for about a week) to ensure that there is a good balance of the natural flavors and the enhancements. Honey can be raw, infused, and either monofloral or polyfloral. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Try Pure Monofloral and Polyfloral Honey Today!
You can buy many varieties of monofloral and polyfloral honey from us. Our Wildflower Honey is a favorite polyfloral honey. Monofloral honeys include Orange Blossom Honey from Central Florida, which comes from the nectar of the sweet Orange Tree. In Southern Italy, our Honeysuckle Honey is produced in May when bees collect the sweet nectar from the honeysuckle flower. Our Sunflower Honey from Italy has delicate aromas of pollen, hay, pineapple, and passion fruit. But don’t be deceived, all the honey came from sunflowers! No pineapple or passion fruit involved.
As the well-known line from Romeo and Juliet goes, A rose by any other name should smell as sweet. Whether it’s called single varietal honey, simple varietal honey, unifloral honey, single flower honey, or monofloral honey, the sentiment is the same. This honey comes from one nearby species of flowering bloom and it’ll have a taste that is unique and, of course, just as sweet.