Honey is loved all around the world and has been praised since ancient times. When thinking about honey we usually imagine light colored and sweet tasting honey. However, did you know that there are more than 300 types of honey?
Each type has a unique flavor, smell and color which depends on the source of blossoms that bees use to collect pollen for making honey. You might have heard about manuka honey which is known for fantastic healing properties, but today we will mention one just as unique type of honey - acacia honey.
It stands out from other types of honey with its amazing properties, which earned it a title of “the best honey” among those familiar with it. Join us on a journey of exploring amazing things about acacia honey, and it might become your “best honey”. First, we should be familiar with the source of blossoms that bees use to make this honey.
In the United States it is usually labeled as locust honey or American acacia because the honey comes from black locust or false acacia tree flower. A scientific name black locust tree is Robinia pseudoacacia, which means false acacia. Some might confuse it with real acacia tree, but you should be able to easily differentiate real acacia tree vs. fake acacia tree used in the production of acacia honey.
The real acacia tree, also known as wattle, thorntree, and whistling thorn, is a genus of trees and shrubs with over 1,000 species. While acacia trees can be found in Europe, Africa, southern Asia, and America most of the species are native to Australia. The cream or yellow colored flowers have five small petals, and they are arranged in dense cylindrical or globular clusters. However, there are also some species with unusually colored flowers such as white, purple or red colored flowers.
The false acacia tree, known as black locust, is native to the southeastern United States but it has also been planted and naturalized in Europe, Asia, Southern Africa, and North America. Some areas even consider it an invasive species because of rapid growth and willingness to spread by seed and root suckering.
This tree species is very adaptive and grows in many soil types, microclimates, and elevations. Its seeds are edible and can be harvested from summer till fall, but shouldn’t be consumed in high doses. There are also some dangerous aspects to this tree because its leaves and bark are toxic. If a horse eats this plant, after an hour he will show signs of sickness and should be immediately taken to a vet. Common symptoms of animal black locust tree poisoning are weakness, cardiac arrhythmia, depression, anorexia, and incontinence.
Even though some see black locust as an invasive tree if properly managed it can have many great uses. It works best when incorporated into managed activities on the farm. Some of its remarkable benefit and options are:
The flowers are an essential source of food for honey bees which made it the base of commercial Hungarian honey production.
Because of its high density, black locust tree is very resistant to rotting which makes it ideal for any weatherproof structure such as outdoor furniture, decks, and fence posts. The tree is also very hard and durable.
It has a high BTU rating which makes it excellent firewood. A BTU is an acronym for British Thermal Unit which, in this case, refers to the heat energy content of firewood. The wood burns slowly and with very little visible smoke and flame.
Fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere so the tree grows fast (91 - 121 cm in a season) and can grow on poor soils. Because of its rapid growth, black locust tree can quickly provide shelter and shade for animals or become windbreaks.
Often the tree is used to support nutrition of other crops. For example, research has shown that black walnut tree interplanted with black locust tree as “nurse” tree rapidly increases the growth of the walnut tree.
Its leaves are an excellent feed for livestock because their nutritional value is similar to the nutritional value of alfalfa tree.
Acacia honey is considered by many as the best honey it the world, so there must be something special about it, right?
The honey is very pale, and if it hasn’t been mixed with other floral sources it looks like liquid glass. In a jar of this honey you can often see a piece of honeycomb. Its pale color and clarity make the honeycomb very visible through the jar.
It has a high capacity to stay in a liquid state since it crystallizes slowly, 1 - 2 years after extraction. Commercially its light color and slow crystallization give it a great appearance compared to other types of honey, which easily makes people want to buy it.
Its taste is mild and can be consumed in greater amounts than other types of honey. Some other types of honey might give you a sick feeling of overdosing after having 1 - 2 spoons. Because of its weak floral taste and no aftertaste, it is preferred honey to mix with drinks. Fructose content higher than its glucose content make it very sweet and give it low glycemic index.
Low GI could make it suitable for people who have diabetes (type II). However, some therapists suggest that the best honey for people with diabetes is honey with 1 - 1 content of fructose and glucose. If you would like to introduce honey to your kids, you could try including acacia honey to their yogurt, fruit, and ice cream. Its mild taste won't overpower other flavors. Lower acid content makes it delicious in combination with cheeses.
Due to its low content of pollen, it won't cause an allergic reaction. Considering its pale color, you could already guess that it has a low content of antioxidants. Its probiotic activity is also low which means that this honey has low gastroprotective properties.
Thanks to the nutritional value of acacia honey it also has some health benefits.
Honey healing properties are usually associated with antiseptic and cough suppressant properties, but it offers so much more.
Regular consumption of this honey increases the level of hemoglobin and normalizes blood pressure. Has a calming effect beneficial for reducing stress and improved sleep. Those who labor intellectually might find it useful as it stimulates brain activity, facilitates faster recovery, and energizes the body.
This honey purifies the liver, acts as a diuretic and is known as a natural antibiotic.
Its strong antiseptic properties make it useful in healing sores, skin problems, diseases of oral cavity, eczemas, and conjunctivitis.
Like many other kinds of honey, it can help with rhinitis, laryngitis, bronchial asthma, gastritis, ulcers, etc.
A study from 2010 found that it helps in healing skin wounds. Another study published in 2013 found that acacia honey might help in healing lung cancer.
Acacia honey is one of the most expensive kinds of honey on the market. Such a high price point is a result of the tedious process of making it, limited quantities, and due to higher demand. During “dry periods” acacia honey yields are nonexistent, sometimes even for several consecutive years.
The acacia tree starts blossoming in May which is a bad time for bee forage as they are not yet strong enough to fully assimilate the forage. As a result, beekeepers have an additional cost of strengthening their colonies which also includes some risks.
One of the issues is that bee strengthening in May matches the period when some bees tend to leave the hive. That happens because their family becomes too strong and there is a lack of space in the beehive. Unfortunately, that causes great losses for beekeepers. They lose bees, and the remaining colony is too weak to prepare for the next major forage.
Another issue is that acacia blooms only for 10 - 15 days and requires specific factors to be useful to bees. Longer rain washes away the nectar from blossoms, while wind dries the nectar off.
After so many issues with acquiring the acacia honey, its high price point isn’t surprising. However, considering that many people find it “the best honey” it is definitely worth the price and waiting.
There are so many types of honey that sometimes it can be hard to decide which one to choose. Some people like strong tasting honey, others like a milder taste, and some don’t like the taste of honey at all. For people who would like to start including honey into their diet acacia honey seems like a perfect choice.
Its mild taste and light color won’t overpower other flavors while it will add your food and drinks a health punch. Those sensitive to sugar can maybe give this honey a try and mix between acacia honey to add some sweetness.
Acacia honey is versatile and can be added to any meal or drink, and even can help in keeping your body and mind healthy. Have you tried acacia honey? What you think, does it deserve the title of the best honey in the world?