Zilla needs more information than I thought would be interesting in yesterday's post. Who knew that honey could be so fascinating? Nevertheless, here goes.
An Account of what I Know About Honey
Honey is the by-product of the bee's harvest of pollen and nectar so it stands to reason that the product would reflect the inputs. From a beekeeper's point of view there are two basic harvests, spring and fall. Spring/summer honey is generally a lighter color and has a lighter flavor (here is a picture of spring honey), whereas fall honey is darker and more strongly flavored (I'm looking for jar and will post it as soon as possible). Most commercial honey is either spring/summer honey or a mix of the two. Honey is graded for color and the lighter honey is always rated higher.
Some commercial and small farm honey claims to be clover honey or citrus honey and they may well be, but I've found that I can't really control where my bees forage. Perhaps I'm not trying hard enough. I've seen lavender honey and apple blossom honey advertised, but I remain skeptical. In order to achieve fair labeling, a bee keeper would have to add honey supers exactly when the blooming is the most prevalent species available and remove them immediately after pollination or when the blooms begin to wane. They would also have to know that the bees only sought nectar in that orchard or field and didn't go to the next field for a little basil, sunflower, or oak tree pollination. Managing all this is more than a little difficult. So I wouldn't pay extra for an exotic honey unless you have tasted it first and find the claims to be true. With all that nay-saying, I do have to say that I can taste subtle differences in honey. As we harvest frames, I can generally tell whether the honey is clover inspired or fruit tree inspired, but I have tasted a lot of honey over many years. As far as seasonal variances, you don't need acute taste buds. The differences are dramatic.
Now, natural medicine advocates say that if you have fall or spring allergies, take a teaspoon of local, raw honey from the season each day. So, if you are allergic to fall, take a teaspoon of fall honey each day and the following fall you should have fewer symptoms. Go find a local apiary, get some raw, wildflower honey, and be beealthy. You also get that feel good sensation for supporting a local, small farmer. Why does the honey have to be raw and local?
Raw honey is minimally processed - no heat and minimal filtering. As my brother says, "Give me some of that honey with the legs and wings in it." Honestly, you don't want bee parts in your honey, but you should try to find natural honey in its bee produced perfection. Finding local honey is just as important as finding raw honey, not for the carbon saved, but for the health benefits. If you live in Mississippi and you have spring allergies you aren't reacting to almond blossoms or California wildflower blossoms, you are reacting to pecan, oak, or Mississippi wildflowers. Dose accordingly.