Last Updated on October 4, 2021
What are the best plants for honey production? There are many different nectar flowers in the world. Some produce a lot of bland honey. Others produce small amounts of excellent honey. Some produce huge volumes of terrible honey. The definition of horrible and good honey is highly subjective as well, with tastes varying. In this article, we will look at some of the flowers that make the best tasting honey in popular opinion. The best flowers for honey are in reality the ones that you have access to. But let us explore the wish list and dream list of the greatest honey flows on Earth.
Some flowering plants produce flowers that contain nectar to attract pollinators. If you wish to look at it that way, nectar is really a tip or payment that a plant makes available to an insect or other creature in exchange for help with pollination. Nectar requires resources to produce, hence flowers tend to provide just the necessary amount of nectar for the available pollinators in their ecosystem to pollinate them.
There are many factors that determine how much nectar this is, and how available it will be to bees. There are also conditions under which the same plant may produce more or less nectar. In short, there are actually few direct answers. But we can give guidelines.
What Flower Makes The Best Tasting Honey?
This is a question that is up to personal taste. It is much like asking which trees make the nicest fruit. One person may like plums, another mango, another litchi. Taste is a personal preference. There are however certain honey types that people seem to be willing to pay more for.
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Genuine Sidr honey is gathered by bees in specific valleys in Yemen from Ziziphus trees. This honey can fetch crazy prices per pound if it is verified genuine. The honey tastes quite pleasant, and much of the cost factors behind its high price are religious and cultural factors. There are many fake sidr honey products on the market. Companies such as the one I linked to above make a concerted effort to verify supply by sourcing directly from beekeepers and employing laboratory equipment to ensure that honey is of the highest unadulterated quality.
This honey, originally marketed and promoted by beekeepers in New Zealand has many health-enhancing properties and is consequently expensive. This is slightly weird by healthy honey. It is different.
This slightly bitter but floral honey is one of the more interesting honey varieties I have tasted from Europe. It is relatively rare given the difficulty in finding areas where enough trees flower at the same time to produce honey that is genuinely from this flower. I personally found the Sardinian samples I tasted had the most developed and unique characteristics.
This honey is so amazing that it even has a song about it. It is weird and unusual honey in that it never crystallizes due to its very high fructose content. Tupelo honey has a smooth mouthfeel and is quite a treat.
This is one you can plant to test out yourself. Unhusked buckwheat is available at health shops. It is not wheat at all, but more closely related to Rhubarb. It is a weird fast-growing “weed” that makes a cloud of little white flowers. The flowers stop producing honey mid-morning – so the trick is to plant it at a time of year when it will flower when the days are really long and mid-morning has many hours of light before it happens.
For a beekeeper, even an acre or two of buckwheat can actually increase the nectar available to your bees. For fun, you can plant little patches and watch the bees go crazy on them. When your bees are working this honey the hives really stink. I once had a chap walk past one of my hives and he was convinced the bees were flatulent it smelt so bad. The honey itself tastes nice, in a sort of strong way. Definitely not “typical” honey, but it is delicious and healthy.
The first time I encountered this plant it amazed me. Driving north from Boston to Portland Maine to visit my friend Ben at the Maine Mead Works, I saw fields and fields of this amazing flower. The blossoms had many bees on them. Later I also visited Munros Honey and Meadery in Ontario Canada. Over this significant distance, this “weed” produced a strong and important honey flow sustaining bees and beekeepers. Somewhere along this process I developed Goldenrod hayfever, which is horrible, and managed to treat this by eating goldenrod, honey. Exposing myself to a long slow dose of goldenrod pollen helped my body become immune to the pollen. The honey is pleasant, light honey, and it makes great mead.
Mozambican Mangrove Honey
This is incredible honey. Small patches of mangroves cling to survival along the coast of Mozambique. You cannot really buy this honey commercially, but it is a special treat. Africa is a treasure chest of weird and wonderful plants, and Mangrove honey is in its own league. Well worth a visit to Mozambique if you are a honey connoisseur. Judging by how busy the bees I saw were, this must be one of the best plants for honey production in the world.
This is one of my all-time favorite honey varieties. Produced in the vast central African woodlands, it is rich dark honey with a strong pleasant flavor. Excellent in culinary uses, and my favorite for mead making. I had the pleasure of working with the team at Forest Fruits developing a vinegar made from this honey – the vinegar is a unique, sugar-free way to enjoy honey.
This is an entire category on its own as there are hundreds of incredible species of this plant that each produce unique and interesting honey. Native to Australia, Eucalyptus trees are now grown in many parts of the world for their timber. A by-product of this is honey. There are many regions in the US that now produce excellent Eucalyptus honey. These are one of the best plants for honey production.
Many types of Eucalyptus honey, such as that from E.saligna and E.grandis trees will granulate rapidly. Other species produce honey that remains liquid.
I once knew a guy who planted a series of rows of Eucalyptus trees comprising more than 10 000 trees. Each row was a species chosen because it flowered at a specific time of year. After 15 years the trees all began to flower in sequence and his apiary produced a year-round honey flow. He started making a lot of money and took a mistress. His wife found out and the divorce cost him the farm. The new owner bulldozed the trees because he was allergic to bees.
Somewhere in there, there is a lesson.
There are hundreds of other unique honey types, each with its merits and magic. I have covered a small selection of my personal favorites from around the world. I have not gone into much detail on many others which are also favorites – macadamia, palm, citrus, clover, pumpkin, sunflower, isphingo, litchi, mango, black forest, European Acacia and many others are all beautiful. Explore and enjoy the honey you can find.
If you want to grow a few flowers for your bees, this is more just for you to have fun watching the bees on the flowers. The herb Rosemary is probably the single simplest plant to grow – it flowers a lot and the bees love the flowers. This is also one of the best plants for honey production.
Have fun, taste as much and as many different types of honey as you can. Because every bottle keeps a beekeeper going somewhere, and every beekeeper provides ecosystem services we all need to keep our planet healthy. Enjoy and share.
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Dr. Garth A. Cambray is a Canadian/South African entrepreneur and beekeeper with 28 years of experience in apiculture and specializes in adding value to honey. His Ph.D. research developed a new advanced continuous fermentation method for making mead that has resulted in a number of companies globally being able to access markets for mead. His company, Makana Meadery, exports honey mead to the USA where it is available to discerning connoisseurs. He has also developed technologies to commercially manufacture organic honey vinegar in Zambia for export globally. He holds a few patents globally in the ethanol industry and believes in technology and knowledge transfer for human development and environmental sustainability. One of his proudest achievements is the fact that the wind farm he started at one of his old apiary sites has essentially made his hometown carbon neutral.