The most frequently asked question at farmers markets is, "What should I get? Clover or Wildflower?" Rick often answers with, "Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla?" He strongly believes that folks who like chocolate will prefer the complex, richer flavor of wildflower, and those that prefer vanilla will like the simpler, cleaner taste of clover. He's usually right, except when it comes to Wendy; she loves vanilla and prefers wildflower. Ha! Except for baking... baking is usually better with clover.
Anyway, the only difference between the honey is flavor; it's a taste preference. Both types of honey are raw and unfiltered so the health benefits are the same. Here's some information to better prepare you to make the decision when choosing between the two; however, if you're still not sure, come out and taste both. Yes, we do provide tastings at the farm and at farmers markets.
According to the National Honey Board, there are over 300 varieties of honey in the US; however, the most popular one is clover (we'll get to why in a little bit) with wildflower being a close second. Clover is the one associated with the honey bear bottles and can be found at any grocery store. Clover comes from bees that feed primarily from clover fields, which are most commonly filled with Dutch, sweet, white blossom, and yellow blossom clovers. Clover has a sweet, mild taste. The reason it is so easily found on grocery store shelves is because the USDA provides incentives to farmers in North Dakota and other places with poor quality soil to improve land-use for wildlife and to prevent erosion. Sweet clover grows great in these areas with arid and erodible because it is nitrogen-fixing, which provides aeration and a natural fertilizer for other plants to thrive. Clover also provides a great habitat for many types of wildlife including bees. The benefit is that there are about 25 million acres of clover in the US providing sweet nectar for our bees and yielding tons of honey. Our honey is collected and harvested from fields covered mostly with sweet and white blossom clover; and not from North Dakota. Brrrrr!
So if clover honey comes from clover, does wildflower come from wildflowers? Sort of. Wildflower honey doesn't come from any one specific type of flower; it's honey created by bees feeding from the nectar of a multitude of flowering plants in the area. The taste and color from the same hive can vary from year to year due to temperatures, foliage in the area, and when the honey is harvested. At Quail and Hound we usually harvest all honey in August for the entire year. Wildflower is usually darker in color than clover, but can range from a light golden color to a richer, darker amber color. Ours is usually a bit on the darker side, and comes from mostly tulip poplar, cherry, walnut, wild raspberry, apple, and maple.
On occasion we are asked about other types of honey... buckwheat, orange blossom, tupelo, alfalfa, etc. Our hives are not located in areas where the bees have access to pollen and nectar from those varieties of plants; however, we have many beekeeper friends throughout the US that may harvest that specific type of honey, so ask us about it. It won't be ours, it won't be local, but it will be the flavor you want.