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Honey Plants

Flowering Plants/Trees

Our attempt to help you identify the source of nectar which the bees use to produce your honey crop has not been done without a great deal of study.  We owe a great deal to the various sources of information listed in these pages.  No one person can be an expert of where honey plants are found and our maps are not meant to be all inclusive.  We would like to credit the following sources and recommend you purchase any that you may find valuable.

The honey plants of the United States included in this list is by no means complete.  It is designed to help a beekeeper find the possible source of nectar his bees are gathering. This is done in several ways: each link below will take you to a particular plant.  Each plant is identified by photographs and a map location .  Following the map and pictures are descriptions of the plants features, pollen color and pollen grain identification.  We will be adding more honey plants from the southwest and other areas as we can get pictures to include in our descriptions.  Watch the web site for updates.

The color of honey

bottlesofhoney.JPG (355090 bytes)The color of honey varies considerably according to the nectar source of the honey.  I would like to thank Dave Heilman of the OSU bee lab in Wooster, Ohio for providing me with these samples of honey.   These samples represent the wide range of colors found in honey and are identified from the left to the right as: very light clover honey, amber star thistle honey, dark amber blueberry honey, and buckwheat honey which is almost black.   To help with some description of honey, these colors may be of some help but the pollen grains in these honey samples can tell us the true source.  Looking at color alone can not determine what the nectar source is or if it is a combination of nectar sources.  A dark honey for example, might be overheated lighter honey.  Taste is also a factor to take into consideration.  

lighthoney.JPG (271762 bytes)This is the clover honey with backlight.

amberhoney.JPG (263685 bytes) This is the star thistle honey with backlight.

darkamber.JPG (260420 bytes)This is the blueberry honey with backlight.

deepamber.JPG (207786 bytes)This is the buckwheat honey with backlight. Without light the buckwheat honey looks black.


Reference books

The reference books we  used to collect information about honey plants are listed below.  The two best honey plant books on the subject are by Frank Pellet and John Lovell.  We have relied on the information in them; however, they were written 50 to 75 years ago and farming practices have changed quite a bit since then.  We have tried to update material to be current with today's plant information.

  • Our Trees  How to Know Them  photographs by Arthur Emerson and text by Clarence M. Weed.  Copyright 1936 by J. B.  Lippincott Company

  • Honey Plants of North America by John H. Lovell copyright 1926 by The A. I. Root Company.  This book is available as a reprint for the A.I. Root Company and if you do not have a copy of a honey plant book, we strongly urge you to purchase a copy of this one.  We consider it better than the next book listed.

  • American Honey Plants by Frank C. Pellett Copyright 1920 and published by Dadant & Sons.  Many editions of this book have been published and it is often available at used book stores.  You might search the internet for a copy.

  • The Pollen Loads of the Honey Bee by Dorothy Hodges copyright 1984 by International Bee Research  Association.  This book has also been through many editions.   This is a classic for anyone wanting to study pollen.

  • A colour guide to pollen loads of the honey bee by William Kirk copyright 1994 by International Bee Research Association.   A larger and expanded number of pollen plants compared to Hodges book.

  • Pollen grains of Canadian honey plants by Clifford Crompton and Walter Wojtas.  Copyrighted in 1993 by Minister of Supply and Services Canada.

  • An Atlas of Selected Pollen Important to Honey Bees in the Eastern United States by Stephen Bambara and Nancy Leidy.  Copyright 1991 by North Carolina State Beekeepers Association.

  • Florida Honey and Beekeeping  by Waldo Horton and Isabelle Thursby.  Published in 1958 at Bulletin No. 66 by the Department of Agriculture, State of Florida.

  • Geological Survey Bulletin No. 7  "Honey Plants of Iowa" by L.H. Pannel and Charlotte King and others.  Published 1930 by the Iowa Geological Survey by the state of Iowa.

  • Weeds of the North Central States Bulletin 772 published by the Agricultural Experiment Stations of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin in 1981.

  • Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers by Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny published in 1986.

  • Beekeeping in California publication 21422 by Eric Mussen, Len Foote, Norman Gary, Harry Laidlaw, Robbin Thorp and Lee Watkins  copyright 1987 by The Regents of the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

  • Beekeeping in Western Canada by P. Pankiw and D. L. Nelson published in 1975 by Canada Department of Agriculture, Ottawa.

  • Beekeeping In Ontario by G. F. Townsend and P. W. Burke published by Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph.



Honey Plants Click on the links below to find out more about each one of them.

Alsike Clover        


Black Locust    





Clover:   crimson, red, white









pollen1.jpg (24882 bytes)



Pumpkin, Squash, Cucumber



Raspberry, Blackberry, Dewberry





Sweet Clover  

Tulip Treetuliptreeblossom2.JPG (421109 bytes)


Wild Mustard