Rapeseed Honey

Rapeseed Honey
Rapeseed honey

Rapeseed honey is a monofloral variety derived from the pollen and nectar of the Brassica napus. In simple terms rapeseed honey is the result of honeybees pollinating high concentrations of the rapeseed plant.

The honey itself is identifiable by its white or buttery-yellow colour, its cabbage-like aroma, and its slightly peppery flavor.

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    Where Does Rapeseed Honey Come From?

    The rapeseed plant is a member of the same genus that includes turnips, collards, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. In fact, it gets its name from the Latin word for turnip.

    Canola is a domesticated variety that contains a reduced level of erucic acid to make it safer and more useful for animal feed and human consumption.

    In North America, rapeseed is grown commercially in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in Canada as well as North Dakota and Minnesota in the United States.

    Honey Bee Flying To Harvest Rape Nectar
    Honey bee flying to harvest rape nectar

    The vast majority of North American crops are genetically modified for improved resistance to pests and pesticides. Rapeseed is also grown in Europe, especially Germany and England. GMO varieties have been introduced in Europe as well. This means that consumers should examine the label on rapeseed honey carefully if purchasing organic honey is important to them.

    How Do Beekeepers Produce Rapeseed Honey?

    In order to produce a monofloral rapeseed honey beekeepers will position their hives/apiary within or near dense concentrations of rapeseed. This in turn will allow the honeybees to predominantly pollinate and extract the rapeseed nectar allowing the honey produced to be of a high rapeseed concentration, deeming it monofloral.

    Of course producing rapeseed honey has both advantages and challenges for beekeepers. One advantage being rapeseed can be planted in the fall for a spring harvest and in the spring for a late summer harvest. This means that a hive can produce two rounds of rapeseed honey each year.

    This is particularly attractive to producers in light of the rapeseed plant’s heavy nectar flows which lead to exceptionally large honey yields. While there are advantages to producing rapeseed honey, there are also challenges. Beekeepers will be aware that rapeseed honey crystallises rapidly and can be difficult to extract. It requires them to keep a close eye on their hives and to harvest honeycombs as soon as they are capped.

    Once the honeycombs are collected, the honey is typically extracted within a day and marketed immediately. This due to standard rapeseed honey crystallising in the jar within 3 to 4 weeks. If not managed correctly the rapeseed honeys rapid crystallisation causes problems for extraction, furthermore it can cause problems for the hive.

    Unlike other varieties that crystallise in the comb, rapeseed honey can cause hives to become sick or even starve if it is their only winter food source. Unfortunately due to the downside, some honey farmers have given up attempting to produce a monofloral rapeseed honey.

    Row Of Beehives Next To Rapeseed Plantation
    Row of beehives next to a rapeseed plantation

    How Do Bees Produce Rapeseed Honey?

    Any time that a hive is located near a large planting of rapeseed plants, it will produce rapeseed honey.

    The moment the honey bee harvests the rapeseed nectar it is mixed with an enzyme within the honeybees mouth. The enzyme itself is otherwise known as invertase or the “bee enzyme” which is secreted from the honeybees glands.

    When the honeybees return to the hive they will pass the rapeseed nectar they have gathered between their mouths further mixing the nectar with the “bee enzyme” reducing the water content and converting the nectar to honey.

    They will then deposit the rapeseed honey into wax cells, but at this point the water content will be too high. In order to reduce the water content the honeybees will fan their wings above the wax cell. By doing this they will evaporate some of the water.

    Once they’ve finished the process the rapeseed honey will have a water content roughly below 20%. It will then be capped and the honeybees will repeat the process all over again.

    Honeybee Pollinating Yellow Rapeseed Flower
    Honeybee pollinating yellow rapeseed flower

    What Are the Benefits of Rapeseed 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 pasturised honey will break down and diminish these benefits.

    Rapeseed Honey vs Regular Honey

    Most rapeseed honey is sold as raw honey, this is key because raw honey typically holds numerous health benefits that are reduced or eliminated during the pasteurisation process that regular honey undergoes.

    The pasteurisation and refinement of typical supermarket honey is done prior to packaging for sale. They do this to give the product are more visually appealing/clearer look, but unfortunately by refining its image it loses many of the benefits that make honey special.

    Where raw honey is only rough-filtered to remove bits of debris like pollen, beeswax, and parts of dead bees it comes to you full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and nutrients, that if put through the high temperature pasteurisation process could be destroyed.

    When You Should Avoid Rapeseed Honey?

    Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid eating honey and it should never be given to children under 1 year in age. This is due to the possible presence of botulism spores that an infant’s underdeveloped digestive system cannot handle.

    People with diabetes, pre-diabetics, and people who suffer from high or low blood pressure should consult with a doctor or dietitian before consuming honey.

    Two Honey Bees Pollinating The Rape Flower
    Two honey bees pollinating the rape flower

    Rapeseed Honey as an Antiseptic

    When compared to other varieties of raw honey, rapeseed honey has a relatively low level of antibiotic activity.

    However, it can be used externally to treat burns and skin diseases as it has been shown to accelerate the healing of wounds, cleanse and prevent infections.

    Rapeseed honey has not been shown to contain sufficient amounts of oxidase and catalase to catalyze the reaction that results in hydrogen peroxide—which gives some varieties of honey an antibacterial or bactericidal effect.

    Is Rapeseed Honey Vegan?

    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.

    Honey Bee Gathering Yellow Rapeseed Nectar
    Honey bee gathering yellow rapeseed nectar

    What Is Rapeseed Honey Used For?

    Many honey farmers sell their rapeseed honey as creamed honey. This makes it great for spreading on toast or eating right off the spoon. People enjoy eating by itself just because they like the moderate sweetness, flavor intensity and unique flavor profile.

    Of course, the long list of health benefits that are associated with this variety makes it popular for those reasons as well. In addition to eating it for pleasure or consuming it for therapeutic benefits, some people use it topically for their skin or as a topical antiseptic.

    Is Rapeseed Honey Expensive?

    You can purchase 100% pure, organic, raw rapeseed honey from a variety of online outlets for around ten dollars per pound.

    If you visit your local natural food store or farmer’s market you might be able to find an even better deal.

    Of course, it’s easier to find a better price if you’re located close to where rapeseed is grown. Seasonal availability can have some effect on the pricing when you buy local.

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