Varietal Honey is the spice of life

Kara and the team in the field during harvest

What is Varietal Honey?

Think of varietal honey (also known as monofloral honey) as honey from the nectar of a single plant variety. Artisanal honey exemplifies the adage, “Variety is the spice of life.”

Blueberry Honey with Blue Cheese and fresh blueberries on the dock on the eastern shore for National Blueberry Month
Blueberry Honey is varietal honey made from the nectar from high-bush blueberries

Experienced beekeepers consider local plant flowering patterns when planning hive location and the timing of blossom and timing of each honey harvest.

Each varietal honey possesses distinct flavor and color. Within a single varietal, there can also be variations in these characteristics from year to year determined by weather patterns, soil attributes and other changing factors.

On the varietal side, we work with a few incredibly experienced beekeepers from a number of regions including the Maryland’s Eastern Shore the to offer an exceptional collection of honey.

Check back often to see what is new on our Eastern Shore Honey page.

What is Artisanal Honey

Artisanal honeys result from a mix of nectars from multiple flowers and trees in a location.

When honey is created from a large variety of flowers, it is generally labeled “wildflower honey”. However, the USDA has established standards only for honey quality, not for labeling.

The variety of plant material on our farm produces one-of-a-kind artisanal honey.

To make distinctive artisanal honey we farm for bees. For example, we’ve planted nearly 1,000 lavender plants.

Other plantings include:

  • Apple trees
  • Pear Trees
  • Walnut Trees
  • Bee balm
  • Fields of sunflower
  • Several varieties of clover
  • Echinacea
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Swamp Milkweed
  • Jo Pye Weed
  • Daisies of all kinds
  • and so much more.
Artisanal honey on the eastern shore made from a collection of flowers we've planted on our farm. Some are featured in this image.
Flowers that grow on Chesterhaven Beach Farm in support of our bees

Do you know how honey is made?

In theory, bees forage as close to the hive as they possibly can, so beekeepers place hives near the plants they want the bees to visit, according to Daniel Weaver, past president of the American Beekeeping Federation.

For more than nine years, our Apiary on Chesterhaven Beach Farm has been home to over 40 acres of land devoted to feeding bees.

Where does beeswax come from? Photo credit Debbe Krape via honeybeesuite.com
Photo credit Debbe Krape via honeybeesuite.com

Do you know where beeswax comes from? Bees excrete wax from a gland. We have bees to thank for much more than just pollination services. The bees are responsible for a third of the food we eat. That’s every third bite we take.

Bee Pollinating a flower covered in pollen
Bee Pollinating Flower on Chesterhaven Beach Farm

Do you know about pollination? If you want to support honeybees, plant a pollinator garden for them. Take time from your day to watch honeybees forage from flower to flower.

our apiary in the first bloom

Beekeeping for varietal honey is an art and a science

In reality, ultimately you can’t really control where bees go to gather nectar–their nature is to forage. Beekeepers help keep control of this process by taking advantage of the fact that specific plants bloom only at certain times of the year.

For clover honey, for example, hives are put in the middle of hundreds of acres of clover during the period when the plants flower. But, bees sometimes travel miles in search of nectar, so there is no guarantee that some bees won’t feed on other flowers.

From a trustworthy producer, clover honey will indeed come predominantly from clover blossoms, but it’s very unlikely that 100 percent of the honey will come from that one type of flower.

Daniel Weaver

Clover blend field in our apiary

Our artisanal honey is harvested seasonally.

Spring Honey is lavender, tupelo, black locust (very floral), blackberry, blueberry, clover, herbs, milkweed, and apple, pear, tulip poplar and more.

Autumn Honey is largely sunflower, clover, wild berries, summer thoroughwort, bergamot, pine, cedar and goldenrod.

This heroic jar of Waxing Kara Spring Honey is magic in a bottle.

I paint with beeswax and living on the Eastern Shore inspired me to become a beekeeper to support this sustainable art form. In the process, I got a whole lot more honey than wax. Glorious, delicious, unpredictable honey that tasted differently from any other than I have ever tasted. That coupled with my interest in cooking with whole foods motivated me to launch Waxing Kara Eastern Shore Honey House.

My hope is to play a part in raising awareness that raw artisanal and varietal honey is more than a mere table condiment. It belongs with the slow handcrafted category alongside spectacular small batch wines from a single variety of grape, single malt scotch, or maple syrups handcrafted in small batches from coveted regions.

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About the Author

kara

Kara waxes about the bees, creates and tests recipes with her friend Joyce, and does her best to share what she’s learned and continues to learn about the bees, honey, ingredients we use and more.

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