Experiment: Mass Spectrometry Analysis of floral sources of honey

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Summary

We propose to examine whether analytical tools such as High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry can be used to determine the floral source of nectar in honey.

Background

Different types of honey command very different market prices. Certain types of honey are widely sought after by consumers. Current identification techniques are limited to examination of pollen grains in the honey using photomicroscopy or, preferably, electron microscopy. DNA analysis is has been used in a limited fashion but has the disadvantage that it can only identify the presence, but not the quantity, of different nectars.

Floral components aid in identifying the country of origin. Micro filtering, which removes pollen, is legitimately used to clarify and retard crystallization. However it can also be used to hide the true origin of the honey and is used to circumvent import bans of honey from certain countries.

Monofloral honeys are types of honey which have a distinctive flavor or other attribute due to its being predominantly from the nectar of one plant species. Three different monofloral honeys have been run through a HPLC. They exhibited very different peaks.

The honey types analyzed to date are:

  1. Orange Blossom
  2. Clover
  3. Acacia (Locust)