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Second Place: Annalise Watkins, Florida

The Potential of Variety

“Variety is the very spice of life that gives it all its flavor,” an adage first penned by
William Cowper’s poem “The Task” in 1785 , encapsulates the emblematic nature of varietal
honey (Cowper).  Honey, a natural sweetener produced through the symbiotic relationship between honey
bees and flowers, in which bee’s collect nectar from flowers and then convert it into honey from
within their hive, comes in a myriad of flavors, colors, and textures, reflecting the diverse floral
sources from which it is gathered. Varietal honey, also known as monofloral honey, “mono”
meaning one and “flora” meaning flowers, is derived predominantly from the nectar of a single
plant species in localized areas, resulting in unique and distinct characteristics (“Honey: Benefits,
Uses, and Properties”).
Honey bees, acting as nature’s diligent pollinators, selectively forage nectar from specific
floral blooms, imbuing the resultant honey known as varietal honey with distinct flavor profiles,
aromas, and medicinal properties. Scientific analyses reveal a rich tapestry of bioactive
compounds within varietal honey, including phenolic acids, a type of bioactive compound,
enzymes, a protein molecule, and volatile organic compounds, which contribute to its nutritional
and therapeutic value (“Honey Varietals”). Ultimately, beekeepers cannot completely control
which flowers the bee’s forage from, and therefore in order to keep control of the process must
take advantage of what times of year the flowers flourish as well as where they originate from.
With honey bees providing pollination to over 180,000 flower species around the world,
the diversity of varietal honey is limitless, each bearing distinct characteristics reflective of their
floral sources (Ollerton et al.). As stated in the podcast Two Bees in a Podcast, “All About the
Money, Honey with Melanie Kirby” the art of “Beekeeping is a global endeavor” and is not
restricted to just one area (Ellis). Exotic varietal honeys are sourced from all around the world
such as Acacia honey, a sweet almost vanilla tasting honey, which is derived from the blossoms
of the Black Locust tree, commonly found in Europe and North America and Eucalyptus honey,
a sometimes tart flavored honey produced from Eucalyptus trees in Australia and South Africa
(Kunat-Budzyńska et al.). Specialized varieties in differentiating regions often depend on the soil
and climatic conditions; humidity, wind and sunlight which make the flora of each region
different. The bees feed on the nectar in the plants near the hives; therefore, the composition of
honey reflects the nectar characteristics of the group of plants around a hive hence the difference
in taste, smell, appearance and more depending on location (Kunat-Budzyńska et al.).
Honey is a high-value, global food product featuring a high market price strictly related
to its origin. Therefore, the demand for premium varietal honeys necessitates authentication
mechanisms to safeguard consumer interests. Various honey components, such as chemical
characteristics, have been used as discrimination markers among different botanical and or
geographical origins. This data can be generated by various advanced analytical techniques, such
as high-performance liquid chromatography, a process that separates and identifies specific
components in mixtures, which in turn enables comprehensive chemical profiling of varietal
honeys (Tsagkaris et al.). Geographical indications and certification schemes, such as the Unique
Manuka Factor Honey Association, also provide legal frameworks for delineating the
geographical provenance and authenticity of varietal honeys (Scholz et al.). Without these
reliable authentication methods, consumers would be at risk of purchasing adulterated or
counterfeit products and the sustainability of beekeeping could be compromised.
With pollination contributing to a large part of global food production, culturally and
economically significant varietal honeys encompass a large influence with their multitude of
benefits. One such example is Manuka honey, derived from the tea tree and revered for its rich
heritage. Originating primarily from New Zealand and Australia, Manuka honey holds a place in
the indigenous Māori culture, where it is celebrated for its medicinal virtues and spiritual
significance (“Manuka Honey in Maori Culture”). In recent decades, the global demand for
Manuka honey has surged exponentially, driven by its potent antimicrobial activity against
antibiotic-resistant pathogens and its efficacy in wound care and gastrointestinal health (Carter et
al.). According to market research, the global Manuka honey market was valued at
approximately $829 million in 2020 and is projected to reach $1.5 billion by 2027, with a
compound annual growth rate of 8.5% during the forecast period (Research). Additionally,
certain honey types can provide nutrients, not usually accessible to people such as Acacia honey
which is often preferred by people with diabetes because of the presence of low concentrations of
sucrose and high concentrations of fructose in it (Puranik et al.).
In the end the countless perks of varietal honey, with its economic stability, medicinal
benefits and overall sustainability as a natural and less processed food product prove the potential
of variety.
Works Cited
Carter, Dee A., et al. “Therapeutic Manuka Honey: No Longer so Alternative.” Frontiers in
Microbiology, vol. 7, no. 569, Apr. 2016, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.00569.
Cowper, William. The Task. 1785. London, Scolar Press, 1973.
Ellis, Dr. Jamie and Amy Vu, hosts. “All About the Money, Honey with Melanie Kirby.” Two
Bees and a Podcast, episode 133, University of Florida Honey Bee Research and
Extension Laboratory, March 2023,
“Honey Varietals.” National Honey Board, honey.com/about-honey/honey-varietals.
“Honey: Benefits, Uses, and Properties.” Www.medicalnewstoday.com, 14 Feb. 2018,
Kunat-Budzyńska, Magdalena, et al. Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of New
Honey Varietals. no. 3, Jan. 2023, pp. 2458–58, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20032458.
“Manuka Honey in Maori Culture.” Bing,
Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.
Ollerton, Jeff, et al. “How Many Flowering Plants Are Pollinated by Animals?” Oikos, vol. 120,
no. 3, Feb. 2011, pp. 321–26, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0706.2010.18644.x.
Puranik, Sridevi I., et al. “Economic Benefits of Honey and Honey Products.” Economic Benefits
of Honey and Honey Products, Mar. 2023, pp. 330–39,
Research, Nisha Deore, Cognitive Market. “Manuka Honey Market Is Growing at a CAGR of
6.10% from 2024 to 2031.” Cognitive Market Research, 2023,
www.cognitivemarketresearch.com/manuka-honey-market-report. Accessed 11 Apr.
Scholz, Maria Brígida dos Santos, et al. “Indication of the Geographical Origin of Honey Using
Its Physicochemical Characteristics and Multivariate Analysis.” Journal of Food Science
and Technology, vol. 57, no. 5, Jan. 2020, pp. 1896–903,
https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-019-04225-3. Accessed 18 Aug. 2021.
Tsagkaris, Aristeidis S., et al. “Honey Authenticity: Analytical Techniques, State of the Art and
Challenges.” RSC Advances, vol. 11, no. 19, 2021, pp. 11273–94,
Ellis, Dr. Jamie and Amy Vu, hosts. “All About the Money, Honey with Melanie Kirby.” Two
Bees and a Podcast, episode 133, University of Florida Honey Bee Research and
Extension Laboratory, March 2023,

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