Different Types of Honey

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If you think all honey is just alike – you are in for a surprise. In fact, there are many different varieties of honey with distinct colors, tastes and aromas. Let’s journey into the most popular types of honey that are readily available for purchase. This guide will serve as a starting point as you search for your favorite.

Different types of honey in clear jars image.

To begin this story, honey bees make honey from plant nectar collected from blooming flowers. Because the nectar is different from plant to plant – so also is the resulting honey different.

Classification of Honey Types

Honey is classified and graded in different ways. But, all honey is divided into distinct groups.

  • Polyfloral
  • Monofloral

Polyfloral Honey

The vast majority of honey consumed in the United States is polyfloral (or multifloral). This means that the nectar from many different flowers was used to make it.

This is the easiest type of honey for a beekeeper to produce and sell. The bees naturally mix all honey together in the hive regardless of nectar source.

You will often see it labeled as “Wildflower Honey”. This does not mean that native wildflowers are the nectar source – rather that the honey is produced from the nectar of many different plants.

Monofloral Honey

Monofloral honey is made from a single nectar source – predominately. This means that if it is clover honey – most of the nectar used was from clover flowers.

So, if bees mix all the nectar together in the hive, how can we have honey from a primary single nectar source? This is possible due to two factors: flower fidelity and hive manipulation. 

Honey bees practice flower fidelity. This means when they find a great food source, bees will collect nectar from that source until it is gone.

In an orchard with yummy orange blossoms in bloom, the bees will target that crop until it is gone.

Beekeepers make use of this tendency by manipulating the hive boxes. Putting empty honey super boxes on the hive when the target crops start to bloom. When the target crop bloom is over (i.e. Sourwood, Clover etc), the honey is harvested.

Different types of light and dark honey nectar sources image.

Unique Types of Honey by Nectar Source

In a supply and demand market, some types of honey are always more sought after than others. Here are some of the most popular varieties of honey.


Acacia Honey is produced from the flowers of Robinia pseudoacacia (commonly known as the black locust trees or false acacia) in Europe and North America.

It is a popular table variety that has a beautiful light color and delicate taste. Acacia honey has high fructose levels and goes well will many foods.


Alfalfa honey is produced in the US and Canada. Bees gather nectar from the blossoms of alfalfa plants in large crop fields. It is light in color and has a mild sweet flavor.


Aster honey is produced from thousands of varieties of Aster flowers. In the United States, they bloom in the Fall. This makes Aster honey an important food source for bees getting ready for Winter.

However, it is not a favorite of humans because Aster honey tends to be thick and it crystallizes faster than other kinds of honey.


My beekeeping friends in California rave about Avocado Honey. Made with nectar from blooming Avocado plants, it does not taste like the fruit.  But, it is dark in color and has a rich buttery flavor.


Blueberry Honey is mainly produced in the Northeast regions of the US. Honey bees visit the blossoms of blueberry bushes in bloom – and actually provide a bit of bee pollination for the plants. Interestingly, blueberry honey is light in color and actually has a slight blueberry flavor.


Buckwheat Honey is made from buckwheat flower nectar. It is known for its strong flavor. Although rich in antioxidants, the taste is too bold for some honey connoisseurs. The color is very dark similar to molasses. Bees however love it – beekeepers plant buckwheat to feed their bees (I do too).


Basswood honey is made from the nectar of Basswood tree blossoms. It is light in color but unlike most light-colored honey – it has a strong flavor and woody scent. This variety of honey is often used in cooking, and to sweeten teas. You can even make your own honey sweetened lemonade.


Clover Honey is produced in many parts of the world. It is one of the most popular single source types of honey.

It is light gold in color and has a mild sweet flavor. There are many popular uses: baking, sweetener for drinks, right on the table.


Not as popular in the US, most Dandelion Honey comes from New Zealand. It has a floral aroma and is a dark amber-color. The tangly flavor is often enjoyed right from the jar. In most areas, there are not enough flowers to produce a honey crop – but my bees do visit dandelion flowers.


Eucalyptus Honey was originally sourced from Australia. But, it is now produced in some areas of California in the United States. The color of this honey varies a bit depending on location. As you might expect, it has a mild cool menthol aftertaste.

Three different varieties of honey including acacia, tulip poplar and clover in containers.


Fireweed Honey is made from the nectar of a tall growing herb in the American Northwest – Fireweed. It is light in flavor and has a smooth taste. I sampled some from Alaska and it reminds me a lot of Sourwood Honey.

Forest Honey

Forest Honey-(Honeydew Honey – Pine Tree) Forest Honey is a term used to describe honey that is not made from plant nectar. Yes, there is an exception to our rule. Honeydew honey is made from honeydew (a secretion of aphids) instead of plant nectar.


Linden honey is made from the nectar of linden tree blooms. Denmark is a major producer for this variety. It is light in color and has a mild sweet flavor with a woody scent.


Manuka honey is produced in coastal regions of New Zealand from the flower of the tea tree bush. It has gained popularity for it’s use in the medical industry. It has a strong aftertaste and is not the best option for table honey.

Orange Blossom

Made from the sweet-smelling blossom of the orange tree or similar citrus sources, Orange Blossom honey is very popular. It is mainly produced in parts of Florida and Southern California.

Orange blossom honey is light in color and has a mild fruity flavor. When fresh, you will notice an orange-like aroma when you open the jar.


A popular variety in the Appalachian mountains region, Sourwood honey is produced from the nectar of Sourwood trees. 

This honey is not sour (as the name may suggest). It is absolutely delightful and have a rich buttery aftertaste. My apiary is able to produce a small amount of Sourwood honey most years. Production is tied to elevation among other factors.


Tupelo honey is produced in the swamps of the Southeastern US. The blossoms of Tupelo trees provide abundant nectar. This is one of the most popular honey varieties.

With a light amber color and a mild flavor, it sells out every year. The high fructose content causes it to granulate very slowly – this means the honey is slow to crystallize – if ever.

Three forms of honey - liquid in bottle, comb honey and creamed honey.

Different Forms

Beyond flavor and color, honey is also enjoyed in different forms. In the United States, liquid honey represents the largest number of sales. However, this is not the only way to enjoy it.

  • liquid
  • whipped or “creamed honey”
  • honeycomb

Everyone has tasted a spoon of liquid honey. Some of us make creamed honey at home – you can even enjoy raw honey in the comb. There is a taste experience for everyone.

You may still find some chunk honey with a nice piece of honeycomb in the jar.

Raw Honey vs Processed

On the journey from the hive to your table, bee honey must go through some preparation. Raw honey defines a product that is as close as possible to honey as it exists in the hive.

Processed honey has undergone intense filtration to remove wax particles, pollens, etc from the honey before bottling. This produces a beautiful product with a long shelf life.

Basic Wildflower Honey for Your Pantry

Once you see the wide taste experience before you, it’s time to consider the best way to use them.

For the purpose of using honey for coughs, colds and sore throats – all honey varieties work well. They mostly have the same nutritional components.

So, if you want to make some homemade honey cough drops – go for the less expensive wildflower honey. This basic flavor can be used for any purpose and is the most widely available.

Others varieties have unique flavors that makes them a good choice to include in honey recipes.


How are different types of honey classified?

Beyond nectar source, honey in the US is graded on a scale that measures: moisture content, color, flavor, etc

How can I differentiate between monofloral and polyfloral honey?

With experience, you may be able to detect some types of your favorite monofloral honey by taste. However, a lab test is required for positive identification.

Are light-colored types of honey better than dark?

Light honey is often a mild flavor and dark honey is known for a stronger taste. But, one shade of color is not necessarily better than another.

A Last Word

Enjoy as many different kinds of honey as possible. I enjoy trying some of the ones from Europe from nectar sources not available in the US. With so many types of honey, you are sure to find several favorites. When stored properly, honey never goes bad. Stock up and experience all the flavor and variety provided by our bees.