Honey Sensory Experience: An Introduction

Jul 12, 2017
This course is for beekeepers, bakers, honey-lovers, mead makers, packers, importers, professional buyers, honey producers, and honey lovers, category manager or anyone who wants to gain expertise in the aroma of honey analysis. Over two days, expert teachers will guide participants through a unique tasting and educational odyssey.



Date: Friday, November 10 - Saturday, November 11, 2017

Location: Robert Mondavi Institute Sensory Building

Fee: $625

Learn about the nuances of nature's perfect sweet! Since early spring, the Honey and Pollination Center has been working with a team of sensory experts and trained tasters in the sensory lab in the Department of Food Science and Technology. In addition, other professors and scientists have begun research to analyze and categorize aroma, nutrition and pollens of several varietal honeys. We are ready to share our experiences.

Join the Honey and Pollination Center and experienced teachers in the industry. Teachers include Orietta Gianjorio, Member of the Italian Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey, Hanne Sivertsen, Sensory Researcher, Department of Food Science and Techology, UC Davis, and Amina Harris, Director of the Center. Other presenters include: Amy Myrdal Miller, certified nutritionist; Joyce Schlacter, certified quality control specialist; Chef Mani Niall, owner of Sweet Bar Bakery, Oakland, CA and Elina Nino, UC Davis State Apiculturist.

Together we will spend two full days tasting varietal honeys from the world over and investigating the bees' handiwork. It all starts with nectar . . .

Press Release: UC Davis is the Place to Bee to Learn About and Experience Honey


Friday, November 10


8:00am – 8:30am       Registration and Continental Breakfast


8:30am                       Welcome, Introduction and Overview

Presenter: Amina Harris; Director, Honey and Pollination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute, UC Davis


8:45am – 9:45am       How is honey made? It begins with Nectar . . .

Follow the flow from nectar collection with a foraging honey bee to the transfer to house bees, and finally into the cells. Learn about the intricate drying process that eventually yields pure, delectable honey. Eventually, nature’s purest sweet will make it into the bottle.

Introductory honey tasting will take participants through the spectrum of honey in just three samples!

Presenter: Amina Harris


9:45am – 10:30am    Introduction to Sensory Evaluation

Presenter: Jean-Xavier Guinard, Professor and Interim Executive Director; Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science


10:30am-10:45am     Break

                                    Aroma reference samples set up in the back of the room all day


10:45am-11:30am     Introduction to Sensory Evaluation continued

This section will include an introduction to the UC Davis Honey Flavor Wheel and aroma references.

Hanne Sivertsen; Sensory Science; Associate Specialist; Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis

Amina Harris

Orietta Gianjorio; Owner of Orietta, LLC


11:30am-12:15pm     Nutritional Health and Analysis of Honey

                                    What makes one honey ‘healthier’ than another?

Presenter: Amy Myrdal Miller; nutritionist and owner of Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, Sacramento, CA

12:15pm – 1:30pm   LUNCH


1:30pm – 2:30pm      Mono-Varietal Honeys

Compare and contrast six varietal honeys selected from across North America and beyond. Learn honey tasting protocol.

Presenters: Amina Harris, and Orietta Gianjorio


2:45pm – 3:15pm    Defects: Natural and Not So Natural

Every now and again, you taste a honey and you know something is not quite right. What happened to this natural products? This session will focus on the different things that might go wrong with honey from an over-smoked hive to a naturally fermenting honey.

Presenter: Amina Harris, and Orietta Gianjorio


3:15-3:30                    Break


3:30pm – 3:50pm      How Different Sugars affect the Flavor and Sweetness of Honey

We will taste sugar (glucose, fructose and maltose) side by side with honeys that reflect the predominant sugar, experiencing the manner each sugar expresses itself.

Presenter: Amina Harris


3:50pm – 4:30pm    Bee Health Update

A focus on what is being done here at UC Davis, to research and improve the health of our bee population.

Presenter: Bernardo Nino; Staff Research Associate; Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis


4:30pm – 5:15pm    What Have You Learned So Far: A Review and Tasting

Presenters: Amina Harris, Orietta Gianjorio and Hanne Sivertsen



Saturday, November 11


8:00am – 8:30am       Continental Breakfast


8:30am                       Review of Friday’s Program

Presenter: Amina Harris


8:45am – 9:45am       Honey Research Overview

Presenter: Amina Harris

                                            Sensory Panel Results: Tracking an Outlier

                                    Discussion and tasting the varietal honeys researched

Presenters: Amina Harris and Hanne Sivertsen


9:45am – 10:30am    The Story of Crystallization

For each honey, the process of crystallization is unique. Some honeys form a dreamy, creamy texture. Others are chunkier. And still others do not crystallize at all. Tasting will highlight the unique textures crystallization can take.

Presenters: Orietta Gianjorio


10:30am – 10:45am  Break

                                                Aroma reference samples set up in the back of the room all day


10:45am – 11:30am  Honey Adulteration

In this session, we will learn about the various forms of honey adulteration: blending, additives, mislabeling with and without intent and economic.

Presenter: Joyce Schlacter; Director of Food Safety and Quality, Bubbie’s Ice Cream and previously at Smitty Bees Honey


11:30am – 12:30pm  Honey in the Kitchen

Fresh ideas on how to incorporate honey into recipes.

Presenter: Mani Niall; owner of Sweet Bar Bakery, Oakland, CA and author of ‘Covered in Honey’


12:30am – 1:45pm    Lunch


1:45pm - 2:15pm     Research Updates


Each honey expresses a ‘fingerprint’ through its pollen. Palynology, long used in dating and forensics, is easily applied to honey varietal verification.

Pollen Tasting included.

Presenter: Irina Delusina; Assistant Project Scientist, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Davis


2:15am - 2:30pm      Break

                                    Aroma reference samples set up in the back of the room all day

                                    Enjoy some honey with cheese in the foyer


2:30pm – 3:00pm      Honey Chemistry

Nutritional analysis has shown that each varietal honey has its own levels of sugars, acids and elements. This research has just begun to create these ‘maps’.

Presenter: Ayca Ozcan, Graduate Student, Department of Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis


3:00pm - 4:15pm       How Well Have We Done?

In this final tasting and analysis you will assess your personal performance in honey sensory attributes using a selection of orange blossom honey.

Presenters: Amina Harris, Hanne Sivertsen and Orietta Gianjorio


4:15pm -4:30pm        Final questions and adjournment

                                                Presenter: Amina Harris











Events at the Center

The Honey and Pollination Center hosts several annual events including mead making short-courses, symposiums, public outreach events and fundraising dinners. Many of these are unique to the center, and to UC Davis. Mead-making short courses in a university environment have never been offered to hobbyists, professional mead makers, and the general public. The Bee Symposium, an annual event, brings together faculty from the esteemed UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology with bee researchers, experts and hobbyists from the United States and Canada. Click on the events below to learn more about each.


Upcoming Events at the Center


Other Campus Events



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