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We had our honey tested

Apart from a new NMR laboratory in Abbottsford, B.C. (Worker Bee Honey Company), we know of no labs in Canada that test honey for authenticity.  Moreover, there are no labs that test for the floral sources of honey even though Canadian government regulations prohibit false, misleading or deceptive claims about them. 

We were interested to know more about the honey our bees make in rural Newfoundland, and about whether it would meet legal criteria for sale in Europe.  To satisfy this curiosity, we had a sample of our September 2018 honey tested by the CETAM-Lorraine laboratory in Guénange, France.

Click here for the results (received 23 May 2019). Note that many of the terms are the same in French and English, so it’s possible to make sense of this report even though it’s in the former language.

Here’s some notes from the report.

Moisture content

The moisture content is 16.9%.  Regarding legal and recommended moisture content in France, the notes say “In general ≤20% (recommended ≤ 18%) except calluna heather honey ≤23%.”  Honey will start to ferment when the moisture content is above 20-21%.

HMF (hydroxyl-methyl-furfural)

The HMF analysis of our honey sample gave a value of 0.9.  The notes say, this value must be in general ≤40 mg/Kg (recommended ≤ 15 at the end of the 1st year) unless it’s honey from tropical regions where the value should be ≤ 80 mg/Kg - Si 3 ≤ diastasic activity ≤ 8 - HMF ≤ 15 mg/Kg. 

The presence of an appreciable amount of HMF is evidence of alteration of honey by heat.

Sugar content

Fructose - 40.6%

Glucose - 35.5%

Sucrose - 0.3%

Pollen content (floral sources)

Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod) - 48%

Trifolium repens (white clover) – 35%

Rubus sp (raspberry) 5%, Phacelia tanacetifolia (purple tansy) 4%, Asteraceæ liguliflora (aster sp.) 4%

Other pollens 3% - Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod), Epilobium angustifolium (fireweed), Lotus sp (alfalfa), Vicia sp (vetch), formes avortées (aborted forms), X… (unidentified)

Honeydew elements?

The electrical conductivity of the sample is 607.  Regarding legal and recommended criteria, the notes say, the conductivity should be ≤ 800 μ for nectar honeys and ≥ 800 μ for honeydew honeys. In practice there are many exceptions depending on the botanical origin of honey.   The notes also say with respect to sugar that the content must be ≥ 60.0% for nectar honeys and ≥ 45.0% for honeydew honeys.”  We interpret this to mean that there are few to zero honeydew elements in the honey sample.

Legal conformity (in France)

“The parameters evaluated are in accordance with Decree No. 2003-587 of 30 June 2003 adopted for the application of Article L. 214-1 of the Consumer Code regarding honey.”  This means that the honey conforms to the French government’s definition of honey. The honey is not adulterated. See

Proposed description (label) for this honey is “wildflower.”

This is 100% consistent with the description of the floral source you find on our honey labels even though 48% of the pollen found in the sample is Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod).  Note that the pollen content will vary from year-to-year depending on climatic and other variables.