Honey has been humankind’s most potent source of sweetness since time immemorial. In our own Western Cape, ancient rock art from thousands of years ago, depicts early hunter-gatherer societies raiding bees’ nests.
The popularity of honey has never really diminished even though at times it’s been considered as nothing more that sugar water. Increasingly, however, scientists are re-appraising its potential health benefits, trying to understand the value of the enzymes, vitamins, minerals and organic compounds the viscous liquid contains.
But the sweetness of honey aside, it’s the spectrum of colours and array of flavours that food-lovers also find so pleasing. The wine-making term “terroir” is now often bandied about when referring to different honeys because the aromas and flavours can so strongly invoke or capture a sense of place.
The Western Cape is no exception when it comes to producing honeys that vary in delectability or intensity. From the perfumed multiflora fynbos honeys that can be medium or dark in colour to sugar gum honey, with its often-startling lightness, our local honeys easily match the best in the world. Even honeys derived from West Coast wildlflowers, with their occasionally eccentric medicinal flavours, are highly sought after.
As local beekeepers, the onus is on us to ensure that the honey produced in the Western Cape is a true reflection of the complexity, goodness and tastiness offered by our famed indigenous bees and flora.
Together with the WCBA, the Stellenbosch-based Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services, FACTS, is on a quest to ensure that honey of the finest quality is produced in the Western Cape. The following articles have been prepared by FACTS’s food scientists.
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