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Wax, Pollen and Honey Colors

It's not unusual to see bright white comb but then again, comb can be almost black. Pollen can be almost all the colors of the rainbow. And honey might be as light as lemonade or as dark as mahogany. You can open up one hive in springtime and what you see inside might be completely different in the fall and nothing like its next-door-neighbor hive on the same day.

The cover photo above, taken by Erika Thompson of Texas Bee Works, shows cells of honey with unusual colors. Honey color is decided by the particular flower nectar that the bees bring back to the hive. In this instance, the jelly bean honey colors come from a hive in an urban setting where bees foraged on cotton candy and snow cones instead of live plants. It's definitely not normal to see honey in a vivid green, however, there are different gradients of that lovely amber colored liquid that vary from region to region and season to season. The taste of the honey varies along with the color; much like white wheat or whole wheat, or beer IPAs vs stouts; the darker the honey, the richer the flavor.

Pollen coloring comes from the plants native to their habitat. Prominence of one kind of pollen in a hive can even create a distinct odor that emanates from the hive. For instance, ragweed has the clear and unpleasant smell of dirty socks.

Wax colors differ as well. Newly drawn comb is almost pure white, but as time marches on, the color will deepen, taking on hues from whatever comes in contact with the wax. Baby bees are raised in cells, honey is added, dirty bee feet or propolis might be dragged across the wax, and pollen is brought in. Time and weather have an effect too. Personally, I've taken wax off that ranges anywhere from an almost creamy yellow to a rich golden orange to a dark brown.

Seeing how the colors of bee products changes amongst various hives and seasons is just one more reason that the honey bee is a truly fascinating creature!

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