It’s been a bit of a wait but the results of the analysis my honey by the National Honey Monitoring Scheme have been released.
I know it is unsafe to attribute any action to all beekeeper but I expect that we all wonder where ours bees have been foraging. We could of course collect some pollen and put it under the microscope but this a skilled job and can be inconclusive. What I needed was a lazy option. This is where the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) came to my assistance. Last year they announced the National Honey Monitoring Scheme. The idea was to get beekeepers all across the country to send in 30g samples of their honey and they would test them for plant DNA and environmental contaminants and what attracted me the most they would do it for free. (Full details of what National Honey Monitoring Scheme does can be found at www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/national-honey-monitoring-scheme)
I submitted two samples, one in the summer and the other in the autumn and the results arrived on the 22nd January. The most obvious part of the results are two pie charts which show crops and habitats near the source of the honey.
For me the best bit is the list of plant DNA found. Seventeen found in the early sample and 48 in the late sample. The fascinating thing about these lists are that although I live equally distant from the centre of Sleaford and cultivated fields most of my bees forge on wild flowers with only a touch of rape.
And if you look down the long list towards the end you will see Cannabis sativa. Now, to stop a rush on my honey and to prevent the local constabulary impounding it, I should point out that it is at the low end of a long list. Less then one percent of the plant DNA is Cannabis sativa and it is more likely hemp fibre plants. Also pollen, the source of the DNA, is less then one percent of honey. So we are talking one percent of one percent (0.01%). However it did win best in class at the Sleaford Honey Show. This is very amusing to me but I have started looking at my neighbours differently.
Now where can I get my propolis analysed?