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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Insect Control and Cotton Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #296196

Title: Pollen Studies of East Texas Honey

item Jones, Gretchen
item BRYANT, JR., VAUGHN - Texas A&M University

Submitted to: Palynology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/3/2014
Publication Date: 5/29/2014
Citation: Jones, G.D., Bryant, Jr., V.M. 2014. Pollen studies of east Texas honey. Palynology. DOI:10.1080/01916122.2014.899276.

Interpretive Summary: Most major honey-producing countries except the U.S. have certification laws for their honey. Lacking certification, U.S. honey cannot be exported to many other countries, and cheaper foreign honey may be substituted for domestic honey. Certification of honey is largely based on the identification of predominant pollen types found in honey. Analysis of pollen in 37 honey samples from East Texas revealed that half of the honey samples contained 31-40 pollen types, indicating a high diversity of botanical origin (mixed floral), whereas three honey samples were unifloral Berchemia scandens. Rattanvine (Berchemia scandens), black willow (Salix nigra), and poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) occurred in over 50% of the samples. Certification of U.S. honey by analysis of pollen types will increase the economic potential of U.S. honey in the global market.

Technical Abstract: Since the beginning of honey production, certain honey types are preferred because they taste better, are better for cooking, or do not rapidly crystallize. Because some honey types are preferred over others, these preferred types are in high demand and are sold at higher prices. One of the goals of melissopalynology is to determine the floral sources utilized by honeybees in the production of honey. The pollen of 37 honey samples from East Texas were examined. Pollen was recovered from the honey by using an alcohol-dilution method. Overall, 431 taxa identified into 61 families, 104 genera, and 85 species were found in the honey samples. The number of pollen taxa per sample varied between 17 (Gregg-str) - 52 (Chambers and Liberty Co.). Half of the East Texas honey samples contained 31-40 pollen types, indicating a high diversity in botanical origin. From the frequency of occurrence and the relative frequency, three taxa were found >50% of the samples and are the most important: Berchemia scandens, Salix nigra, and Toxicodendron radicans. Berchemia scandens was found in 89% of the samples and was a predominant type in three honey samples and an important secondary type in 14 of the 37 East Texas honey. Both Salix nigra and Toxicodendron radicans pollen had a frequency of occurrence of 83%, and each was found in 30 of the 36 samples. Neither taxon occurred as a predominant or secondary type. Three of the honey samples were Berchemia scandens unifloral honey and the rest were mixed floral honey. To differentiate honey of the lower 48 States of the U.S.A. from other countries of the world, the honey from each state must be analyzed. Prior to this, the amount of putting similar taxa together into one classification must be determined. By examining the pollen in honey, researchers and beekeepers can determine which habitats the honeybees visited, on which plants the honeybees used as food sources, if the honeybees are visited row crops and orchards, and their role in pollination of those plants. Furthermore, to differentiate honey of the lower 48 U.S.A. States from honey of other countries, the source of the honey must be determined by the pollen within the honey. Only by analyzing the pollen in the honey of the U.S.A. can it be reliably differentiated from foreign honey that is being sold as produced in the U.S.A.