Dandelion honey is a monofloral honey that is produced from honey bees collecting and processing dandelion nectar into honey. The monofloral dandelion honey is derived from the nectar of flowers in the genus Taraxacum.
What Is Dandelion Honey?
Dandelion Honey is a monofloral honey that is produced from dandelion nectar. The two most common sources in North American dandelion honey are Taraxacum officinale (the common dandelion) and Taraxacum laevigatum (red-seed or rock dandelion). To be considered monofloral, honey usually has to contain a minimum of 10% nectar of the single flower source that it claims.
Dandelion honey ranges between 5% and 65% purity, but that level can include multiple species within the Taraxacum genus. The lower level is due to the strength of the dandelion’s flavour.
What Is the Colour, Flavour and Aroma of Dandelion Honey?
The purest dandelion honey will be a bright golden-yellow colour. It will be thick and quick to crystallize, and its colour will darken as it does.
Depending on the exact mix of sources that go into the colony’s dandelion honey, the flavour will range from bitter and astringent to herbal and mildly-sweet. At the same time, it’s aroma can range from woody or herbal to pungent and slightly vinegary.
Where Does Dandelion Honey Come From?
Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion) is native to Europe and Asia, but it was imported to North America and has since become naturalized in Southern Africa, South America, New Zealand, Australia, and India. Dandelion honey can be found in virtually all of these countries.
Still, because of the seasonality and availability we’ve often found it available consistently in select places such as Poland, Italy and the UK. That being said, it can be found and ordered from online retailers.
How Do Bees Produce Dandelion Honey?
The moment the honey bee collects the dandelion nectar, it is mixed with an enzyme within the bees mouth. The enzyme itself is known as invertase or the “bee enzyme” which is secreted from the bee’s glands.
When the honey bees return to the hive, they will pass the dandelion nectar they have collected between themselves further mixing the nectar with the “bee enzyme”. This will reduce the water content converting the nectar into honey.
They will then deposit the dandelion honey into wax cells, but at this point, the water content may be too high. To reduce the water content, the honey bees will fan their wings above the wax cell, this, in turn, will evaporate some of the water.
Once they’ve finished the process, the dandelion honey will have a water content roughly below 20%. It will then be capped, and the honey bees will repeat the process all over again.
When Is Dandelion Honey Produced?
Dandelion honey is one of the earliest single-source honey of the year. Typically, this honey can be harvested sometimes in early spring, and this generally is April at the earliest within the northern hemispheres. Dandelions are an important early source of food for honey bees. However, it is typically the case that only robust colonies will produce a significant volume of dandelion honey.
That, combined with the fact that many beekeepers leave the first combs of the year to the hive for food, means that dandelion honey is less plentiful than other monofloral varieties. Dandelion honey has to be harvested before other flowers begin to bloom, otherwise the bees shift their attention and will begin to make polyfloral honey.
Best Dandelion for Honey Bees
The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is both the most common and the best dandelion for honey bees to pollinate and extract nectar from. Early in the year, dandelions are among the only food sources available for honey bees.
Because they aren’t as good a source of nutrition as other plants, honey bees show preference to alternatives as they become available. Still, they will forage dandelions for nutritional variety.
The Best Environment for Producing Dandelion Honey
In order to produce a monofloral dandelion honey, apiaries will need to be positioned either surrounded by dandelions or within an area containing a dense population of dandelions. Since dandelions are one of the first to sprout in early spring its often ideal to position the hives within large uncut fields, as they tend to be densely populated by dandelions as spring begins.
As the season advances, other flowers will sprout and cause the bees to forage them. This will, in turn, dilute the monofloral dandelion honey and create a polyfloral variety. Thus, it is essential for the beekeepers to extract the dandelion honey early, whilst the composition is predominantly comprised of dandelion nectar.
Benefits of Dandelion Honey?
|Healing Wounds and Burns||There has been positive effects of using raw honey on wounds & burns reported.|
|Reducing The Duration of Diarrhoea||According the NCBI consumption of raw honey has been shown to reduce the severity & duration of diarrhoea.|
|Preventing Acid Reflux||Research has shown that with honey lining the oesophagus and stomach, it actually can reduce the upward flow of undigested food and stomach acid.|
|Fighting Infections||Scientists in 2010 reported that honey through its protein (defensin-1) has the ability to kill bacteria.|
|Relieving cold and cough symptoms||Its been proven that honey may prove beneficial in relieving cold and cough symptoms. The World Health Organisation actually recommend honey as a natural cough remedy.|
|Rich In Antioxidants||High quality raw honey contains many helpful antioxidants. These include phenolic compounds like flavonoids and organic acids.|
|Can Lower Triglycerides||Triglycerides are associated with insulin resistance and are a major driver of type 2 diabetes. Multiple studies have linked regular honey consumption with lower triglyceride levels, especially when it is used to replace sugar.|
This is based on raw honey. Filtered or pasteurised honey will break down and diminish these benefits.
Dandelion Honey vs Regular Honey
Dandelion honey is most commonly sold in its raw form. That means that it retains the bee pollen, propolis, and other beneficial compounds that are typically removed by fine filtering or destroyed by pasteurization during the processing that regular honey goes through.
In a raw state, dandelion honey will naturally contain many if not all of the benefits listed above. The dandelion honey’s flavour will range from bitter and astringent to herbal and mildly-sweet; its aroma can range from woody/herbal to pungent and slightly vinegary.
In comparison, regular honey will hold that somewhat industrial standard taste and tends to be missing crucial benefits and nutritional properties of raw honey. This is typically due to “regular” mass-produced honey being fine filtered and pasteurized.
Which, unfortunately, destroys many of the antibacterial and active elements. Research shows that the processing of honey can reduce antioxidant levels by up to (and even more than) 30%. The reduction of these antioxidant reduces dandelion honey’s effectiveness as an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent.
Dandelion Honey as an Antiseptic
The use of raw honey as an antiseptic goes back thousands of years, even before the times of ancient Egypt. Treating wounds such as burns and ulcers is just one way that honey can be used topically as a therapeutic antiseptic.
By absorbing water, and helping to dry out wounds, coriander honey can help to inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria. Glucose Oxidase is an enzyme that is in honey, and this enzyme can catalyze the production of hydrogen peroxide.
Raw dandelion honey acts as a natural antibiotic and protects wounds from dirt and other substances.
When You Should Avoid Dandelion Honey?
You should avoid dandelion honey if you have any allergies that may make you sensitive to either honey or dandelions. If you have an allergy to bees and you are unsure if you will react to honey, you should consult with your doctor.
Furthermore, raw honey of any kind, including dandelion honey, should never be given to a child under a year old. This is because raw honey can cause a rare but serious disease (Infant Botulism) caused by a specific type of bacteria. When children are a year old or older, they usually have more robust immune systems, and the risk of eating raw honey is reduced.
The Chemical Composition of Dandelion Honey
The chemical composition of dandelion honey varies widely depending on the level of dandelion pollen it contains. The higher the level of dandelion pollen the honey contains, the higher the ratio of glucose to fructose will be.
Is Dandelion Honey Vegan?
The “vegan dandelion honey” that people make from dandelion petals and simple syrup is one of the most popular vegan sweeteners. Many of the recipes found online emphasize the use of organic ingredients to ensure a natural and vegan product. But the subject of real honey is a touchy one with most vegans.
The Vegan Society do not consider honey vegan, this includes cornflower honey. They believe that because some honey farmers replace honey with a sugar substitute when harvesting, it will naturally lack the essential micronutrients of honey, thus being detrimental to the honey bees.
Furthermore, they believe that in conventional beekeeping, honey bees are specifically bred to increase productivity. Which they believe leads to a narrowing of the population gene pool and increases susceptibility to disease and large scale die-offs.
They also believe that many honey farmers will cull their hives post-harvest and clip the queen bee’s wings to stop them from leaving to start a new colony. Thus the Vegan Society does not consider honey vegan. That, of course, doesn’t stop some vegans arguing its fine if they source their honey from reliable sources that do not practice the above.
What Is Dandelion Honey Used For?
Dandelion honey is used both topically and internally for its beneficial properties. It is also popular as a sweetener in hot beverages and as a spread on bread products. Because it can have a saccharin aftertaste, it is not recommended for use in recipes that call for honey.
Is Dandelion Honey Expensive?
Depending on the percentage of dandelion nectar present in the honey, prices for dandelion honey can range from $2 to $5 per 100g or £1 to £4 per 100g.
It is more difficult to find high purity dandelion honey at farmer’s markets than it is to find other monofloral varieties. This is due to many beekeepers’ preference to leave the dandelion honey to the hive for food.