What are Various Types of Honey?

Honey bees extract nectar from the flowers and store it in the comb after mild processing such as removal of water and addition of various enzymes. Every type of honey we find in the market is gathered by the honey bees in the same manner. Then why are there different types of honey in the market? Well honey is categorized in different ways such as depending on the source of nectar, extent of processing done etc. Here is an overview of different ways of categorization of honey and short description of the available types of honey in each of the category.

Honey Tyoes Based on Origin

Based on what honey bees use to produce the honey the honey can be categorized in two types:

  • Nectar honey – this is the honey as we know it. It is produced from the nectars of flowers. In this case, based on the type ( lavender, rose, tupelo, etc.) land number (monofloral and polyfloral) of flowers decide what properties honey will have.
  • Honeydew honey or pine honey or forest honey – this honey is produced from the sweet excretions of other insects which are  collected by bees. This is rarer as compared to nectar honey but known to have special medicinal properties.

Tyoes of honey based Extent of Processing

If we observe the labels of honey jars we see the terms such as comb honey, creamed honey and so on. These indicate the extent of processing done to the honey after the bees have stored it in the comb.

Comb honey or natural honey or raw honey : This honey is direct from the honey comb. The comb is sold as such with beeswax capping. As it is not subject to any kind of processing it is rich in enzymes and exhibits properties of honey such as antibacterial action, antioxidant action and medicinal value.

types of honey

  • In case the honey is cultivated using organic methods or collected from a location which has no artificial or human interference – such honey natural is called as organic honey. Many bee keepers also maintain farms to collect organic honey. Organic honey needs certification to verify it complies with set standards.

Liquid honey : This is the honey extracted from the comb by cutting the beeswax capping. The comb is placed in the extractor so as to squeeze the honey from the cells of the comb.

Creamed honey : This honey is made by mixing nine parts of liquid honey with one part of finely granulated honey. The resultant solution is allowed to get firm by storing at a temperature of 57 degrees. Creamed honey is best used as a spread on toast.

Chunk honey : The comb honey is placed in the jar and the rest of the space is filled with liquid honey.

Pasteurized honey : The honey we get in supermarkets is generally of this type. Pasteurization stops the crystallization of honey on the shelf. This process also destroys some health benefits and nutritional value of honey.

Ultra filtered honey : This also is a type of processed honey where high pressure is used to remove solid particles from honey. This honey is generally preferred by supermarkets as it also does not crystallizes easily. As with pasteurized honey, health benefits of this honey too are lower than raw honey.

Types of Honey Depending on the Floral Source

Honeybees collect the nectar from various plants. Accordingly honey is categorized as:

Polyfloral variety : Honey collected in the comb will be derived from nectar of different flowers. For example in places such as honeyGreece where the climatic conditions support the growth of various types of plants, honey will be of polyfloral variety. If nectar from aromatic plants such as eucalyptus gets mixed then the resultant honey will have that strong flavor. Slight bitter taste will be there if nectar from orange blossom is mixed.

Monofloral variety : If a single variety of plants are grown over a large area then large portion of honey collected in the comb will be from same source. Each of these honey varieties have a different flavor and color depending on the nectar.  They also vary in the composition of nutrients such as sugars which in turn determines the rate of crystallization. Higher the fructose concentration slower will be the rate of crystallization.  Regarding the flavor, light colored honeys will have mild flavor while the dark ones have strong flavor.  This type of honey can be obtained from beekeepers as they make arrangements to allow honey bees collect nectar from only one variety of blossoms.

Various types of Monofloral honey

There are numerous types of honey found across the world. Few are found only in specific parts of world and are very expensive either due to their unique flavor, aroma or medicinal values. Monofloral honey is known for its amazing health benefits and unique taste. Some of the most popular types of monofloral honey are:

  • Acacia: clear honey with mild flavor and is derived from the nectar of Acacia tree blossoms. High concentration of fructose helps it to remain as syrup for a long time. It has medicinal value. Acacia is the best choice for diabetics as it has very low concentration of complex sugars. It helps to cleanse the liver, reduce the inflammation of the respiratory system and in regulating the functioning of the intestines.
  • Alfalfa: This is a light colored honey produced from purple blossoms. It has a very mild aroma and flavor. Alfalfa honey is extensively produced in United States and Canada. Mild sweet taste makes it a preferred honey in baking.
  • Avocado: Dark colored honey collected from Avocado blossoms and has buttery flavor.
  • Basswood: Extracted from Basswood trees that are widely found in North America. It is a unique honey variety that is light in color but with strong flavor. The light woody flavor makes it a best addition to tea, salads and marinades.
  • Blueberry: It is produced from Blueberry blossoms in New England and Michigan. This light colored with unique flavor is preferred by many.
  • Buckwheat: Dark colored honey with strong anti-oxidant properties and is produced in large scale in few parts of United States such as Ohio, Wisconsin and New York.
  • Clover: This light colored honey with mild taste is extracted from white and yellow clovers. Depending on the clover type that is used as a source of nectar the color of the honey varies from light amber to amber.
  • Eucalyptus: Honey derived from this aromatic plant contains a strong flavor and high medicinal value.
  • Fireweed: Derived from nectar of perennial herb Fireweed. The delicate, sweet and complex buttery taste makes it a best addition in cooking, fish smoking, meat grilling and baking.
  • Heather: Thick amber color honey with strong flavor. It leaves a bitter aftertaste. It is renowned for its medicinal value and high protein. Heather honey is generally added to black coffee, chicken, sea foods, lamb and ham.
  • Linden: Derived from yellowish white sweet fragrant flowers of linden tree. It is a light colored honey with woody aroma. Linden honey is known for its antiseptic and sedative properties. Hence, it is best used to treat sleeplessness, anxiety, cough, cold and problematic respiratory diseases such as bronchitis.
  • Manuka: Produced from manuka trees that are native to New Zealand. It contains a unique compound that contributes to strong medicinal properties of manuka honey. Best part is this compound does not get destroyed even after exposure to heat.
  • Neem: Bitter honey with medicinal value. It is highly used in Ayurveda as a remedy for skin diseases, lowering blood pressure, throat infections, dental problems, diabetes and allergies.
  • Orange Blossom: This is generally derived from nectar of citrus plants. They generally have a slight bitter taste.
  • Pine tree: Also known as honeydew, fir honey and forest honey. It is highly produced in Greece. Pine tree honey with strong aroma, slight bitter taste is rich in minerals, proteins and simple sugars like fructose. Hence, it does not get crystallized easily.
  • Tupelo honey: This highly dense honey is light amber in color with traces of green. It is rich in fructose and hence gets crystallized at a very slow rate.

Recommendation

Each of the monofloral honey varieties vary in their properties and have unique flavor. Depending on the components contained in them they offer various benefits. Hence, before purchasing honey it is recommended to know about different types of honey and their benefits so as to choose a variety that best suits your needs. If you are choosing the honey for medicinal purposes then choose raw honey varieties such as the comb honey or the liquid honey that are not subject to heating or any type of processing.