Many of us are familiar with the fruits of Blackberry bushes, but did you know that the honey that bees make from Blackberry blossoms is highly sought after? Honey is a phenomenal product. We sweeten foods and beverages with it, but we also use honey and the beneficial properties ascribed to it in an array of situations. Of the over 300 honey varieties, our attention turns to Blackberry honey.
Blackberry honey is a medium-amber to golden-colored sweet honey with a lingering Blackberry aftertaste. This delicious honey is sought after and is predominantly produced in the Mediterranean regions of Europe and the Pacific Northwest. Blackberry honey is used to sweeten foods and beverages.
Blackberry honey is a globally popular variety of honey derived from the Blackberry bush. Below we investigate what sets this golden delight apart from other types of honey, where Blackberry honey originates from, its defining properties, what some of its uses are, and what are the benefits, drawbacks, and threats to Blackberry honey consumption and production.
Blackberry honey is a delicious and nutritious type of honey available globally. To garner a better understanding of what makes this honey so great, we’ll investigate where it originates from, what it is composed of, and the benefits of using this type of honey.
As its name suggests, Blackberry honey is made by bees collecting nectar (and pollen) from the Blackberry shrub’s blossoms.
Blackberry shrubs have a relatively large distribution. You’ll find them across Europe (particularly the Mediterranean areas), the British Ilse, and North America.
The most significant suppliers of Blackberry honey are France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and the United States.
Within the US, particular states excel in producing Blackberry honey, including:
- New England
Although Blackberry honey from these international locations goes by the same name, where the Blackberry honey originates is important. Blackberry honey differs slightly in taste and composition from region to region.
Blackberry honey from France comes in various combinations as they take an active role in managing the honey’s production. The Irish brands of Blackberry honey are often polyfloral (mixed with honey from other plant species, specifically Meadowsweet), which provides the honey with a bouquet of benefits, and gives it a unique flavor.
The Portuguese brand of Blackberry honey (particularly from the Alentejo region) is some of the most desirable honey globally.
The Pacific Northwest area produces the most significant volumes of Blackberry honey within the US, followed by California and New England.
Blackberry honey is a product of the Blackberry, Raspberry, and other related bushes. These species belong to the rose family (Rosacea) and the same genus Rubus.
Plants from the genus Rubus grow on each of the continents, aside from Antarctica, areas north of 65-75°N, and areas of extreme aridity.
These hardy plants were commercially bred and hybridized so that the many species in the Rubus genus are lumped together in an aggregate group Rubus fruticosus (although R fruticosus is considered a synonym for R plicatus).
The Blackberry bush:
Scientific name: Rubus fruticosus/R plicatus
Other common names:
- Bramble bush (giving the honey its other name, Bramble honey)
- Caneberry (in isolated areas of the Western USA)
- Briar (although referring to the blackberry shrub, the name also refers to other thorny shrubs in other genera)
Within the USA, terminology takes another funny turn. The other common name for Blackberries, “bramble,” is a term that refers to all species of the Rubus genus.
This bush/shrub is native to many parts of Europe. Brambles are an important commercial crop, and settlers introduced them to other continents. Today, brambles are widespread and considered to be invasive in many areas.
Blackberry bushes grow to roughly 5 feet high. Their growth form varies from erect, semi-erect, or rambling/trailing.
Blackberry bushes often occur in “wild” populations in mountainous areas along the northern coast of the USA. When invasive, these bushes form dense thickets, often choking indigenous vegetation from the area.
There are, however, commercial plantations where beekeepers and farmers cultivate Blackberry bushes, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. These plants grow best in areas with warmer days and cooler nights.
Blackberry bushes bloom in late spring until early summer (from April until June). Not all species bloom simultaneously during this time, which extends the nectar collecting season.
Since the various species flower simultaneously, it is almost impossible to say “this variety of honey comes from X plant.”
Blackberry blossoms are white or pink and are incredibly fragrant.
Honey bees are the most significant producers of Blackberry honey.
Blackberry honey is synthesized in much the same way as most other types of honey. The bees arrive at Blackberry blossoms, where they extract the nectar and pollen.
As they hold the pollen in their mouths, it mixes with an enzyme (known as “invertase”). This enzyme begins to convert the nectar into honey. Upon arriving at the hive, bees pass this nectar amongst themselves, further mixing it with the enzyme.
The end goal is a reduction in water. After the process is complete, bees store the honey in a wax cell for future use.
The deciding factor between Blackberry honey production and other honey types is the nectar source. Beekeepers need to place hives within 1 to 2 miles of a Blackberry bush stand or field. As bees collect nectar and pollen each day, this proximity ensures the bees will collect from the Blackberry blossoms.
Blackberry honey is a monofloral type of honey, meaning that bees collect nectar from only one plant species. The resulting honey is not mixed with nectar from other plants (e.g., wildflowers).
However, beekeepers often allow bees to collect from various species within the Blackberry genus (Rubus). Whether bees collect from a particular species of Rubus, or a combination of species from this genus (e.g., red and black raspberries), beekeepers consider the resulting honey as Blackberry honey.
Blackberry honey is quite sought after. It is delicious honey with a faint underlying taste of blackberries. This blackberry taste provides the honey with a lingering fruity aftertaste. Before the fruity aftertaste hits you, this honey has a delightful, mildly sweet taste.
Blackberry honey is relatively thick with a smooth and creamy texture.
Blackberry honey possesses a distinctive flowery smell, which makes an impression not quickly forgotten.
Blackberry honey varies somewhat in coloration. Blackberry honey ranges from darker honey (signifying a greater intensity/flavor) medium-amber to golden color to a light amber color. This honey is often also cloudy.
Honey is a product of the nectar, hive microorganisms, and the various enzymes added to it by bees. These combinations of factors influence the chemical composition of honey.
Although these variables will change from year to year and location, certain characteristics of Blackberry honey will remain the same or comparable.
Blackberry honey’s characteristics include:
- pH range: 4.00 to 4.63
- Electrical conductivity range: 0.320 to 1.065 mS/cm
- Polyphenol content: 39.82 to 140.91 mg/100g
- Flavonoid content: 2.00 to 7.23 mg/100g
Blackberry honey has a lightness range of between 66.98 and 83.77. Where 0 = black, and 100 equals colorless.
Blackberry honey is also packed with beneficial vitamins, including:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
- Pyridoxamine (Vitamin B6)
- Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Blackberry honey has a higher fructose content, which slows the crystallization rate.
Before discussing the benefits of Blackberry honey, we should note that most of these benefits are tied to the honey in its “raw” or unprocessed form.
Honey collectors/retailers often pasteurize the honey, which is a process of heating the honey to kill off any unwanted microorganisms which are potentially pathogenic.
Although the “bad” things are usually killed off, this process also removes a great deal of the beneficial elements, like nutrients, vitamins, and even a degree of flavor. Although pasteurized honey is healthier than processed sugars, raw is the “golden-colored” standard.
Like most other raw honey variants, Raw Blackberry honey provides a plethora of benefits.
Honey possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which means that honey reduces swelling in the body. Coughing fits are generally due to irritation and often swelling in the throat area. Many people profess that consuming honey helps to reduce these symptoms.
Aside from reducing swelling, many agree that honey contains antimicrobial properties. Bacteria and viruses cause most infections, which means that consuming honey reduces these pathogenic organisms and the likelihood of becoming sick.
A study in 2018 concluded that using honey to treat coughs (especially in children) was more effective than no treatment, more effective than a placebo, and salbutamol (a drug used in asthma treatment), and had an almost equal effect to dextromethorphan.
However, after three days of using honey, the effectiveness as a cough relief agent seemed to decrease.
If you struggle with diarrhea, consuming Blackberry honey will reduce the duration and severity.
Aside from diarrhea, Blackberry honey assists with controlling acid reflux. Once consumed, the honey forms a coating on the esophagus and inside the stomach. This protective lining prevents (restricts) food and acid from moving upwards into your esophagus.
Blackberry honey’s “smooth” texture also soothes the throat and stomach, providing relief.
Aside from containing vitamin C, honey contains antibacterial and antiseptic properties. The protein “defense-1” found in honey kills certain types of bacteria, so consuming Blackberry honey boosts your immune system.
Many believe Blackberry honey contains anti-aging properties as well. Along with other beneficial compounds, the enzymes protect cells from degradation, increasing their lifespan and keeping you healthier looking for longer.
Honey contains flavonoids, organic acids, and other phenolic compounds. These compounds are the essential antioxidants our bodies require.
Antioxidants assist the body in processing free radicals found in the body. Free radicals are the by-products of stress (and external sources like pollution) and normal cellular metabolism. When these compounds build up in our bodies, they increase our risk of developing cancer and other diseases.
Antioxidants assist our overall health, but of even greater consequence, the polyphenols found in honey assist our mental health and wellbeing.
Ways in which honey assists our mental health include:
- Reducing depression, anxiety, and stress. Honey contains anxiolytic, antinociceptive, and antidepressant compounds.
- Honey assists with reducing convulsions. One of many useful things found in honey is anticonvulsants.
- Honey acts as a mood booster.
- Honey assists in reducing memory loss.
Honey reduces the oxidative effects within the brain, promoting healthy functional brain operations and communication with the rest of the body.
Honey plays a direct role in lowering our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Firstly, when we use honey as a sugar replacement, it reduces our processed sugar intake. This reduction in sucrose plays a tremendous role in reducing our chances of developing diabetes.
Secondly, honey lowers the amount of Triglycerides in our bodies. Triglycerides reduce the effectiveness of our bodies using insulin.
When you apply raw honey topically to wounds, they positively affect fighting infection and speed up recovery.
The antibacterial and antiseptic properties found in honey prevent damaging bacteria from infecting wounds, allowing the body to focus on healing the body. The sugars in honey also draw out water around the wound, creating an adverse environment for bacteria.
Not only does honey fight infection, but it also improves blood flow to the area due to its acidic pH. Oxygen and nutrient-rich blood are critical for wound recovery and tissue development. Honey stimulates the body to send this rich blood to the area.
Honey also prevents the amino acid destroying substance proteases from developing. Amino acids are critical for wound recovery.
Honey is not limited to cuts; it works well in burn recovery.
The vitamins found within Blackberry honey promote healthy functioning of certain organs and systems in our bodies, including:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) – assists the digestive system, heart, and nervous system.
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – assists eyesight, hair growth, nails, and skin.
- Niacin (Vitamin B3) – assists in blood circulation, metabolism, the nervous system, and sex hormone production/regulation.
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) – assists with epithelial cell development and regulates the nervous system.
- Pyridoxamine (Vitamin B6) – assists the nervous system and healthy skin development.
- Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – assists the immune system and wound recovery.
With so many benefits ascribed to using raw honey (particularly Blackberry honey), it is a small wonder that many people use this type of honey for various applications.
Some of these uses include:
The most prominent use for Blackberry honey is as an additive to food, either during the cooking process or afterward as a sweetener.
Some typical applications include:
- As a topping for cheese, desserts, nuts, pancakes, waffles, and yogurt.
- Blackberry honey is used in baking as a replacement for sugar.
- Blackberry honey is used to sweeten certain drinks, such as tea.
- Blackberry honey is often used when roasting as a glaze.
- When mixed with water and lemon juice, Blackberry honey produces a lovely sweet lemonade.
Due to its many medical benefits (antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory), the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends using Blackberry honey as a natural cough remedy, especially for people who don’t have access to synthesized medication.
Since ancient times (particularly from ancient Egypt), people have used honey to treat wounds and other ailments as a natural remedy.
Although Blackberry honey is fantastic for various uses, there are situations where using Blackberry honey may not be ideal, or there are drawbacks to using this type of honey.
Although experts believe that Blackberry honey assists children with reducing coughing (especially at night) if children are less than one year old, you should not feed honey to them.
Honey contains certain microorganisms, and one of these bacteria can cause infant botulism. The bacteria-produced toxins in honey can result in infant deaths.
As the child ages, their immune system becomes sufficient to deal with this bacteria.
Although Blackberry bushes are abundant, widespread, and flower over an extended duration, the total yield of honey produced from a Blackberry field is relatively low (40-50 lbs./acre).
In cultivated areas, this yield increases, but it remains relatively low in “wild” areas. This drawback means that blackberry honey is relatively quick to run into supply issues.
Honey often contains pollen (and propolis), which was collected by bees as they collected the nectar. This pollen often makes its way into the honey, commonly referred to as “bee pollen.”
Those who are allergic may suffer severe consequences from consuming bee pollen.
Allergic reaction symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing (similar to asthma)
- Sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose
- Inflammation, including eyes that swell
- A rash may develop
- An itchy throat
- Hives or bumps on your skin
- Honey may also burn the skin when it is applied topically.
Other interesting and useful facts about Blackberry hiney include:
Although Blackberry honey is highly prized in most places where it is available, Blackberry honey lacks the popularity of some of the other honey varieties.
Unfortunately, Blackberry honey has not won any competitions yet. However, those who try Blackberry honey would be hard-pressed not to purchase the jar! This globally occurring honey is well-loved and received by a dedicated demographic.
The most significant producer of Blackberry honey in the US is the Pacific Northwest, followed closely by New England and California.
Blackberry honey’s availability is seasonal, and in good years it is plentiful, while in poorer years, you might struggle to find a jar.
Some prominent retailers stocking Blackberry honey in the states include:
- Asheville Bee Charmer
- Bohman Bee Company
- Oregon Growers
- Smiley Honey Co.
- Snohomish Bee Company
- Waxing Kara
- Winter Park Honey
Although Blackberry honey is not overly expensive, it still reaches a fair price.
Blackberry honey usually ranges from roughly $3 to $20, depending on the supplier and volume purchased.
The average prices of Blackberry honey according to the volume are:
- 2 oz – $3 to $3.45
- 3 oz – $7
- 6 oz – $7.95
- 8 oz – $6 to $11
- 12 oz – $8 to $18
- 16 oz – $11 to $12.95
- 18 oz – $11.95
- 1 lb – $10
There are numerous factors influencing the price per pound of honey, which include:
- The supply vs. demand for Blackberry honey. In years where there is a shortage, prices are generally higher.
- The amount of processing the retailer puts into the honey. The more “effort” the retailers put into preparing the honey, the more it may cost.
- The distance the retailer is from where the bees are. The further the retailers are from the bees, the more the honey usually costs.
- The reputation of the retailer. Unfortunately, you often pay more for particular brands, so supporting local farmers and beekeepers is the best option.
Although Blackberry bushes are often considered invasive in many areas and spread relatively easily, some limiting factors and threats to these bushes and the bees directly threaten Blackberry honey production.
The wide-scale use of pesticides can decimate entire populations of bees in an area. If the Blackberry bushes are on commercial land, there is a chance that the farmer sprayed the bushes with a type of pesticide (insecticide).
These dangerous chemicals kill unwanted insect pests and kill honey bees and other useful pollinator species.
The hive’s distance from the Blackberry bushes plays a critical role in determining what honey the bees make. When bees head out to collect honey, they aggregate on the most prominent nectar source in the area.
If the hives are not placed close enough to a Blackberry stand, the bees may look elsewhere or combine different types of nectar.
Not only is the proximity of beehives to bramble stands important, but obstructions also play a critical role in determining the bees’ effectiveness in making honey.
Obstacles like rivers or highways are detrimental to the bees’ ability to collect nectar.
Correct hive placement is critical in promoting honey production and the longevity of the hive.
Blackberry honey comes from Blackberry bushes, which belong to the genus Rubus. These trees are native to Europe but were introduced to the states and became an invasive pest. The benefit of these plants is that honey bees create delicious honey from them. The honey is usually light amber, with a thick, smooth texture, mildly sweet taste, and blackberry aftertaste. This honey provides many benefits, and people often use it for sweetener foods and beverages or as a natural cough remedy.