LOGAN, Utah — Jars of golden honey lined a classroom table in the nutrition building at Utah State University on Nov. 1, as beekeepers of various skill levels brought samples of their crops showcasing a range of colors, textures and flavors for the Cache Valley Beekeepers Association annual honey tasting.
“This is what is so fun to see,” said Lorraine Scholes, a club member and owner of Cache Valley Bee Supply. “Most of these are Cache Valley honeys, and it’s amazing to see all the different colors and get to taste some of them.”
Scholes brought samples from two honey crops this year. She and her husband had hives at their home in Logan and their ranch in Idaho.
In Idaho, her bees mostly foraged on small wildflowers dotting the mountainsides. Their home in Logan is close to the river, so her bees spend most of their time gathering nectar and pollen from whatever grows on the banks.
“There is such a big difference,” Scholes said. “It’s funny the difference in color, the difference in flavor, the difference in texture.”
The Idaho honey has a sweeter flavor, she said, while the Logan honey has a more lingering taste.
Matt Bangerter is another club member who has hives at two locations.
He and his family live in North Logan and call that hive their neighborhood honey. They also have hives in the west end of the valley that produce their safflower honey.
“My kids love the safflower honey,” Bangerter said. “If I give them the option of neighborhood or safflower, they’ll choose safflower every time.”
Bangerter’s 9-year-old son Trevor said this is because he feels like the safflower honey is sweeter.
Not only does hive location affect what bees forage, Bangerter said, what the individual bees like to eat plays a role as well.
“I liken it to people and our personal preferences,” Bangerter said. “I love to eat hamburgers; my wife prefers pasta. So the bees in different hives will prefer different flowers, different blossoms, different nectars to go get their food source from.”
Because of this, Bangerter said, even hives in the same area can produce very different crops.
“I can have two hives right next to each other, and the honey from one hive will be thicker than the other; the color will be different,” Bangerter said. “It just depends on the flowers they go to.”
Club president Richard Hatch began beekeeping about three years ago when he was looking for a low-maintenance hobby. He did not realize all the ways honey could vary until he started harvesting his own.
“To me it’s interesting to see the wide variety,” Hatch said. “It’s fairly clear on the colors that there are a lot of differences. The taste, you have to develop a palate. I’m probably not a honey connoisseur because after a while they all kind of taste like honey.”
Overall Hatch said the evening is a fun way for beekeepers to show off their crop and see the array of honey possibilities.