Honey’s color can span from clear and range all the way to opaque depending on the vegetation the bees collect the nectar from during foraging; the time of year, and geographic location also weighs greatly on honey color as well as its flavor. In particular, the levels and combination of Polyphenols, Flavonoids, and Carotenoid have been observed to have high correlation with honey color. Darker honey are said to have greater amounts of antioxidant rich Polyphenols while lighter honey tend to contain more Carotenoids.
I have found in my region of the country in the early spring my bees are surrounded by lots of wild flowers (the local shrubs/plants in my neighborhood) along with big patches of blackberries, surrounding native persimmons, peaches and the all invasive pungent smelling Chinese Privet; by the end of April I find my honey supers filling up with the clearest color of honey. I make a point to harvest a half gallon of this mild, but good tasting honey and I set it aside for my light extracted category entry for the honey shows. I love participating in our local and state honey competitions. I do find however that if the room temperature stays around 63 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit which tends to be the case in my kitchen and living room if I am not cooking; that light colored delicious honey begins to acquire a cloudy appearance in the previously transparent bottle. I continued to observe the bottle over maybe four to five weeks, and I noticed little crystals beginning to settle on the bottom of the bottle. My conclusion after three years of this identical observation is light honey while mild and delightful tasting crystallized the fastest at temperatures lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
As spring heads towards summer the tulip poplars and other later blooming vegetations too numerous to name, adds to my honey collection my honey supers begin to have an almost orange overtone from the many tulip poplars. I pay attention and selectively harvest my medium extracted category; always keeping the honey show on my brain. I have also noticed over the past three years of temperature experiments in my living room that this darker honey is somewhat more temperature resistant in terms of precipitation, because as it sits on my piano beside the light category, and there is not the same cloudy response of crystallization occurring; very interesting.
Onward marches time into summer proper and the end of June first week of July when the spring flow is completely removed from the hives in preparation for the Sourwood flow. My hives that are located in heavy Sourwood area begin collecting that buttery smooth delight; hives that have just a sparse amount of sour wood around them tend to have an extra abundance of the also invasive Kudzu. I find what I believe to be a mixture of Sourwood and Kudzu in these honey supers which produces a really opaque, but delectable tasting honey; I always seem to come up with my darkest specimen for the dark extracted category of the honey show after the Kudzu blooms. And surprisingly I have on my piano a honey bear of dark honey I harvested three seasons ago, back in 2014; it was so opaque that I loved to look at that bear just sitting there as black as midnight and the most curious thing I notices is three cycles of spring honey show samples sat there at my room temperature (63 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit) and began crystallizing, but that opaque bear just sits there without any signs of crystallization in three years. My favorite honey to eat for flavor is that dark stuff; I can’t get enough of that flavor.
Antioxidants are substances that counter acts the release of harmful “free radicals”, which can cause DNA damage that can eventually lead to age-related problems such as arthritis, strokes and cancer. Free radicals are atoms or molecules (groups of atoms) that are usually unstable and reactive. How do antioxidants really work? For those of you who are intrigued by this antioxidant topic please enjoy. Dark honey is said to contain more antioxidants typically than light honey, and unfiltered, unheated honey retains more of the enzymes deposited by our honeybees into their concoction along with the pollen introduced during the collection of nectar and its transformation into honey. So which do you prefer “more expensive raw honey” or heat processed, filtered cheep honey?