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Nodding Thisle

Nodding Thistle Flower

Nodding Thistle (Carduus nutans) is considered a weed species in New Zealand. However from the beekeeper's point of view, it is an extremely valuable "weed". The honey from Nodding Thistle is like no other. With a delightful perfumed floral bouquet, light flavour and slow crystallizing properties, it is one of our finest honey types. Unfortunately it is also becoming one of our more scarce varieties. In recent years, the Nodding Thistle honey crop has become much less reliable that before. This has been primarily due to the introduction of a number of insects for biological control of Nodding Thistle in New Zealand. One of these feeds on the seeds, disrupting nectar production in the flower and one feeds on the crown of the young thistles before they flower, stunting their growth, preventing them flowering and in some cases killing the plant altogether. Now, it is only when these insects are at a low ebb, does a good Nodding Thistle honey crop occur.

Pollen Content

One aspect of Nodding Thistle honey is that it is characterized by a very low pollen representation. Our estimates are around 500-1,000 pollen grains per 10 grams of honey and total pollen counts averaging 21,000 per 10 grams with a range of 10,000 to 50,000. Consequently, Nodding Thistle FieldNodding Thistle honey rarely has more than 10% Nodding Thistle pollen. Why this is so has not been documented, but some possible reasons might include:

Sugar Profile

Nodding Thistle honey has a (Glucose-Water)/Fructose ratioBee working Nodding Thistle flower for nectar average of 0.295 so is a slow crystallizing honey. Levels as low as 0.21 have been recorded. It also has a relatively high average sucrose level of 4.0%, so quite often has levels of sucrose that are higher than permitted under Codex standards.



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