Beekeepers will tell you that blue borage (starflower) provides high amounts of nectar and pollen. This makes it a perfect plant for bees to forage on. It's also a plant that grows fast and without too much fuss. Because of this, you can find nature's starflower in many parts of the world. That's good news for beekeepers and their bees.
Borage honey has a distinct taste that many find delicious. The plant itself is widespread and used in both traditional and modern medicine. As for beekeeping, this flower provides high amounts of pollen and nectar for the worker bees to gather. The plant also goes by the following names:
- Blue Borage, or Starflower (English)
- Bourrache officinale (French)
- Borragine (Italian)
- Borretsch (German)
- Borraja (Spanish)
- Purasruoho (Finnish)
- Limba mielului (Romanian)
It has other names too, depending on where in the world you find it, but it's still the same plant. This is generally a light, delicate honey loved in Europe with porridge or in tea, though there are lots of other ways to pair it with foods too. It's perfect when drizzled over berries or ice-cream. The pure borage honey is clear, runny and incredibly moreish. It's also slow to crystallize when kept at room temperature or above.
This is perhaps one of the sweetest of all the honeys, making it a great alternative sweetener to table sugar. If you keep borage honey in the refrigerator it sets to a chewy texture, which makes it a bit more like toffee than honey. This cool chewy texture is a favorite with kids.
The Medicinal Properties of Borage
Bees love the borage plant, but they're not the only ones. People also use the plant for its medicinal properties. Its main use is as an herbal, homeopathic and allopathic medicine. One popular use is to help alleviate depression. The honey carries many of the same health benefit claims as the oil derived from the same plant. Some of these include the following:
- Eases grief and sadness
- Brings out courage and offers comfort
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Helps with hyperactive gastrointestinal disorders
- Helps ease respiratory disorders
- Helps with cardiovascular disorders
- Contains anticancer properties
- Treats pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Helps with menopause symptoms including hot flashes
A 1999 report in Bee World, wrote how borage is so attractive to bees that it's become a popular plant for people to grow as a way to invite bees into their gardens. You can read more on the science and popularity of borage at Science News.
The borage oil makes the borage plant a worthwhile crop for farmers. This is great news for beekeepers. They get to benefit from fields of this beautiful flower, which lasts for about eight weeks. This is a perfect example of a mutually beneficial relationship. In this case, the beekeepers get lots of honey and the farmers get increased yields because the bees pollinate their crop. The nectar and pollen these flowers produce is huge, compared to many other species. If the summer is hot and long, a beekeeper can expect to get between 80 to 100 pounds of honey from a blooming borage field.