Most people associate honey with that sticky sweet stuff you find at the supermarket, but the world of honey goes WAY beyond those little plastic bears (which, to be honest, aren’t even real honey most of the time).
There are literally *hundreds* of different varietals of raw honey that span the globe. And every single one of them boasts a unique flavor, color, texture, and spectrum of health benefits. Of course, many of these honeys are a lot tougher to find than most of the stuff at your grocery store. So, let's take a little trip and dive in to a few of the world’s rarest, most fascinating honeys!
There are many ancient tales of people feasting on this honey and going crazy. Yep, it’s a numbing, head-spinning, potentially dangerous hallucinogenic honey. Its unique psychotropic properties come from toxins in the nectar of rhododendron trees.
Natives of eastern Nepal have used this honey medicinally for centuries, but it’s not easy to harvest. The Himalayan giant honeybees who produce this honey dwell in wild hives built along sheer, remote cliffs. Traditional harvesters climb a long rope ladder (hundreds of feet off the ground) to reach the hives. Once they get there, they swing precariously, using only smoke and bamboo poles to harvest the precious honeycomb—it’s mind blowing! In fact, we highly recommend checking out The Last Honey Hunter. It’s an incredible documentary that explores the brave few who climb the cliffs of the Himalaya to harvest this prized honey.
Deep in the jungle, high up the notoriously tough-to-climb tualang trees, wild bees create this super powerful jungle honey. Studies have compared the therapeutic and antioxidant value of tualang honey to the health world's darling, manuka. (Of course, the antioxidant content of dark honeys like buckwheat still reign supreme). Tualang honey has specifically been studied for its unique potential in restoring hormonal balance and healthy bone density in women. It also contains powerful compounds that can support, heal, and enhance brain function. Of course, harvesting wild honey is no easy task. It is a massive undertaking to trek deep into the jungle and harvest this ultra-remote honey, which is why tualang honey is considered so special and rare.
Okay, this isn’t a varietal, per se. But honey that hasn’t been contaminated by pesticides and other nasty chemicals is incredibly rare, especially in North America. A 2017 study showed that 75 percent of global honey is tainted by pesticides. Oh, and over 86 percent of North American honeys are contaminated with at least one type of neonicotinoid—yikes. With the pervasive use of pesticides and herbicides in modern agriculture, it can be hard to ensure that bees aren’t foraging in contaminated plant life. After all, bees have the ability to forage up to 5 miles from their hive. That means a clean apiary needs to be situated well over 15 miles from any sort of conventional farming or area that is regularly sprayed—a real challenge.
But neonicotinoids are incredibly harmful, so keeping our bees and our products chemical-free is really important to all of us at Beekeeper’s Naturals. That’s why we are super selective about the locations of our hives. We keep our bees in remote, sustainable apiaries where they can forage without worrying about pesticide contamination. We also always conduct third-party pesticide testing to be extra sure that our hives and products are free of nasty chemicals. Sure, keeping things sustainable is challenging and not cheap, but we care about doing things right.
The point is, wild honeys in the world’s most remote, hard to access locations should be rare. That makes sense. But being able to easily enjoy pesticide-free honey shouldn’t. (The good news is we’re well on our way to changing that!)