Honey Journal – Entry #9
Name: Living Foods Hawaiian Lehua Honey
You can buy it at Whole Foods or on the Internet here.
Country: Hawaii, USA
Purchased: December 2008
Flavor: Malted milk shake. Seriously.
Consistency: Dense. Crystallizes naturally.
Fragrance: Barely perceptible “beeswaxy” scent.
This honey is gathered from the bright red Lehua flower found on the islands of Hawaii. It’s pure, raw honey and looks it. There’s nothing “refined” in its appearance or taste. One of the aspects of honey that fascinates me is how different each one tastes. But when you think about it why shouldn’t they taste different? They are gathered from different flowers in different climates in different geographical locations all over the world.
Most people know that, in some sort of vague way, that bees pollinate flowers. But what does this mean? Flowers have two sexes, male and female. Bees are only interested in the male flowers. They have no use for female blossoms because they don’t have any pollen. But the bees don’t know the difference between the two until they do a little investigating.
They buzz into a flower looking for pollen. If it’s a male flower, they find it. They gather what they can, pushing little bits of the pollen into sacks near their back legs. Then, they buzz out, looking for another flower. This time, let’s say, they fly into a female flower. Waste of effort, so they fly out. But in the process of flying in and flying out they, unintentionally, drop some of the pollen that’s covering their bodies (they’ve been swimming in the stuff). In the vibration of flight tiny bits shake loose.
Those tiny bits fertilize the female flowers, creating many of the fruits, seeds and vegetables that we eat. Now there are also many hermaphroditic species of flowers; that is, flowers that contain both male and female parts. But here’s the kicker. The female side of the blossom won't accept pollen from its male side. It would be like the flower version of incest. They only accept pollen from another flower. And here, again, is where the bees come in.
To learn more about these amazing creatures, a good book to start with is Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey--The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World
by Holly Bishop.