Once you’ve gotten basic beekeeping under your belt, you’ll want to start expanding your skill set. We all know that bees need nectar and pollen in order to produce honey, but did you know that some plants can alter the taste of your honey? Check out our favorite plant selections to amp up your honey flavor.
BEEKEEPING: PLANTING FOR FLAVOR
Considerations Before Planting
It doesn’t work simply to go and scatter seeds from a list you’ve taken off the internet unless you’ve taken the following into consideration:
- Bees need a long succession of blooming plants to gather their nectar and pollen. Bees will certainly appreciate a springtime wildflower garden, for example, but will need food sources at other times of the year as well.
- Check with your local bee experts as well as your county extension office about plants that are recommended in your area.
- Remember to use sufficient amounts of plants to support your hive
- Incorporate flowering trees as well as wildflowers, herbs, perennials, and annuals.
What to Plant
You’ve probably attended a honey tasting at some point, and will have an opinion about what kinds of honey taste the best to you. Use that information as a starting point so you ensure you are planting the correct plants for the honey flavor you’re seeking. Start with the light to dark suggestions below, then move on to more specific plant-to-honey flavors.
- Light & mild honey: This is the type of honey you’ll usually see at the grocery store, and it’s made by bees that dined on sweet clover, clover, and alfalfa. Additional plants include blueberry or acacia.
- Darker & stronger honey: Here’s where you can really experiment by using a wide variety of plants to alter your honey’s taste. Consider orange blossom (and other citrus trees), tupelo trees, horsemint, basswood, black locust, wild sage, milkweed, buckwheat, and tulip tree.
- Dark honey: Buckwheat is, by far, the plant that will most dramatically deepen the color and taste of your honey, but proceed with caution. It grows quickly and strongly, and can take over other pollinating plants with its robustness. Other recommendations for darker, richer honey include avocado trees, eucalyptus, and blackberry.
Heather — pungent and slightly bitter
Linden — woodsy and fresh
Palmetto — balanced and sweet
Coffee — rich and deep
Eucalyptus — hint of menthol
Macadamia nut — nutty and floral
Sourwood —caramel and buttery
Wildflower — light and fruity