The best from busy little bees
The Swiss consume around 1.4 kilogrammes of honey per capita per year. A jar of the liquid gold can be found in virtually every kitchen in Switzerland. While many different varieties are available, a distinction is basically made between two types.
The two main types of honey are blossom and honeydew honey.
Blossom honey can be obtained from the nectar of one type of plant (monofloral) or from the nectar of many types of plants (polyfloral). It is primarily made up of nectar collected by bees from the calyx of plants. Nectar is a liquid secreted from the floral nectaries of plants. The sweet liquid collects in the calyx and attracts all kinds of flying insects – not to mention busy little bees. Nowadays, blossom honey is mainly used as a collective term for any type of honey that cannot be classified to one specific type of plant.
If a honey bears the name of a type of plant, such as acacia, rapeseed or chestnut honey, this means that it is primarily sourced from the blossoms of that particular plant. Most blossom honeys crystallise after one to six weeks; except acacia honey, which often remains fluid for 12 months. Vigorous stirring during crystallisation can affect the consistency of the honey: the sugar crystals formed are mechanically granulated to create a fine, soft and creamy honey.
Honeydew honey, on the other hand, is collected straight from the honeydew secreted by aphids or scale insects rather than from floral nectar. These insects feed on the sap of various different plants and secrete the excess, sugary liquid in the form of honeydew. This collects on leaves, needles and branches, where it is collected by the bees and turned into honey in the hive. Unlike blossom honey, honeydew honey is higher in fructose – therefore generally maintaining its liquid consistency for quite some time – and often much darker in colour.
Frequently found forest honey consists of honeydew from several different types of tree – for example from insects on spruces, pines or firs – and sometimes even contains a small amount of floral nectar. Honeydew, on the other hand, comes from broad-leaved trees such as oaks or maples while fir honey originates from firs (generally silver firs).