HoneyLab Teper & Waś

Pollen analysis of honey and beeswax quality testing

Pollen analysis of honey

What is melissopalynology?

Melissopalynology is a specialty in palynology that evaluates bee nectar flow based on the determination of pollen in honey and the identification of nutrition crops of wild bees. The main goal of pollen analysis of honey is to classify it into a specific honey variety (botanical origin) and to identify imported honey (geographical origin). Imported honey is often sold as domestic or mixed with domestic honey. Consumers are not always informed about such practice, and sometimes are intentionally misled. Pollen analysis of honey, by identifying starch grains in microscopic image, also allows us to detect the adulteration of honey with starch syrups.

Where does the presence of pollen in honey come from?

We distinguish several reasons for the presence of pollen in honey. The first and main reason, is connected with the construction of flowers from which bees collect nectar. When the anthers are sufficiently close to the nectaries, the loose pollen easily falls into the nectar. This is also facilitated by gusts of wind and by insects knocking pollen into nectar. Nectar containing pollen is taken by honeybees to the honey sac and carried to the hive.

Another reason for the presence of pollen in honey is the beekeepers centrifuging honey combs in order to gain honey, in which there are also cells with beebread. This is the case in the traditionally managed apiary, beekeepers during the intensive development of bee collonies, in order to suppress swarming put the frames with beeswax foundation into the hive. When the bee collony is strong (combs fill in the entirety of the hive) in order to add beeswax foundation, beekeeper should take out some combs and put them into honey super. In this situation combs with so-called capped bee brood are used, near which are cells with beebread. After few days, young bees bite out of these combs, and empty cells, and those which are not completely full with beebread, are filled with nectar. Nectar, which later turns into honey, due to water content, causes beebread to soften. Beebread then, during the centrifugation of honey combs gets out from the cells and causes secondary input of pollen into honey. Pollen in honey, derived from beebread, in a sense 'falsifies' pollen analysis and makes it more difficult to correctly interpretate test results.

A certain amount of pollen of anemophilious plants enters the honey with the honeydew, to which the pollen easily sticks. Honeydew appears, sometimes in big quantities, on leaves of: lime, maple, oak; and conifers like: spruce, fir, larch. Pollen of anemophilious plants and the ones which do not produce nectar are not taken under the consideration during pollen analysis.

Why order a pollen analysis?

Pollen analysis is, to date, the only, generally accepted confirmatory test of botanical and geographical origin of honey. Its main objective is to classify the variety of honey, which is why, in recent years, this study has become one of the most important among used in the assessment of the commercial quality of honey.

For pollen analysis, about 50 g of honey is enough.

The sample should be sent to the Laboratory address with completed and signed Order Form.