If you’re a beekeeping beginner one of the questions you might be asking is what kind of honey will I get?  Unlike the honey purchased at your local grocery store the honey from your hive will likely not have that standard “honey” flavor.  In fact it may taste unlike any honey you’ve had before!

So what kind of honey will you get?  That really depends on where you are, how often you harvest your honey and what kind of season you have.

In many areas the nectar flows vary by time.  For example you might have an early bloom of blackberries or fireweed and then a later bloom of knotweed or goldenrod.  If you harvest honey between the different nectar flows you’ll have very different tasting honey.  But you don’t have to.  It will simply mean that you don’t have a single flavor but many different flavors mixed together.

For many beekeepers, especially in the first year, you may not even get enough of a nectar flow to harvest from your hives, certainly not more than once.  Often this depends on the weather.

Throughout much of the country this year there is a huge heat wave.  While that sounds good the bees can be over stressed by this heat or the plants themselves may become stressed.  In other parts of the country there haven’t been many days without rain and the bees haven’t been able to collect nectar from sources that were ready.  For example in the northwest many beekeepers lament the rains this year as they kept the bees away from the blackberries, a prime source of nectar for the early season.

Finally, if you’re an urban beekeeper there’s really no way to know what your bees might use for forage.  A huge number of non-native plants dot our cities and suburbs and many of these are excellent sources for pollen and nectar.

So how can you tell what kind of honey you might have?  Ask your local beekeeping organization what blooms in your area at different times.  For the first year you’ll likely just want to enjoy whatever you get but you can also consider watching more closely and harvesting at several times in upcoming years to really savor the different taste profiles of the different kinds of honey from your neighborhood.

Do you know what kind of honey you’ll get this year?  Let us know by posting below- and please tell us a bit about the flavor of that honey too!


Photograph by Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture  

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