What is Single-Varietal Honey?
Honey is the product of the selfless efforts of the noble honeybee. The characteristics of honey are a result of the nectar sources the bee has visited along her many foraging flights. At its core, the easiest way to think of honey is to think of it as dehydrated flower-nectar. While this is a bit reductive, it is a helpful way to think of honey and why each bottle of honey can be so different. Wildflower honey is simply a name given to honey in which the honeybee has collected nectar from anything within its flight radius. Wildflower honey is a representation of the flora surrounding the hive and can change from season to season as the flowers in bloom change. Wildflower honey harvested from two hives located right next to each other can even taste a little different depending on the whimsy of the honeybees’ foraging flight!
While honeybees have been observed flying as far as six miles from their hive, they tend to forage much more close to home, especially if there is an abundant nectar source nearby; a typical foraging area for a honeybee tends to be about one to two miles from the hive. When beekeepers move their hives to areas that are densely concentrated with a single nectar source, a very special class of honey is produced. This class of honey is often called single-varietal honey or mono-floral honey. This class of honey refers to honey in which the honeybee predominantly collected nectar from one type of flower. While there can be other adulterating nectar sources present, the high-concentration of a single nectar source gives the honey characteristics unique to that blossom. Apis Mercantile is proud to curate a fine selection of single-varietal honeys that help to showcase the finest fruits of the honeybees’ selfless laboring.
Single-varietal honeys can have distinct differences between them. Everything from the color, viscosity, types of sugars present, crystallization rate, and flavor can change with the nectar source. These differences become more pronounced as the purity of a single nectar source increases. The easiest way to understand this process is to imagine an Orange Grove in Florida. A citrus farmer has cleared the area of most flora, besides the Orange trees. When the trees bloom, they provide ample nectar for the bees, who will return time and time again to the orange blossoms, collecting the nectar and returning the sweet substance to the hive. This dense concentration of a single nectar source allows for the resulting honey to be comprised of mostly orange blossom nectar, giving it a distinct flavor. This tendency of a honeybee to collect nectar over and over again from the same blossom is called floral fidelity. Floral fidelity simply means that on a single foraging flight, a bee will only collect nectar from one type of flower. So, if you ever see a honeybee collecting nectar from a clover blossom, the next flower it will collect from, on the same foraging flight, will also be a clover blossom. After returning to the hive and depositing the nectar, the bee can switch to a different nectar source as it embarks on a new foraging flight.
The honey that you taste from one of our jars is the result of a labor of love of thousands of worker bees and millions of trips to flowers. We hope that you enjoy this unique representation of our floral-world and the incredible efforts of the noble honeybee.