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: $575 (Early-Bee)

$625 (After October 10)

*Discounts not applicable after October 14, 2017

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 – 10:00am 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

10:00am -10:45am  Introduction to Sensory Evaluation

Learn how our sensory apparatus works while covering basic tastes, varietal flavors, visual impact, texture and finish of honey. Will include an introduction to the UC Davis Honey Flavor Wheel and aroma references.

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

Honey Wheel: Amina Harris

Sensory profile forms: Orietta Gianjorio; Owner of Orietta, LLC

10:45am-11:00am Break

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

11:00am-11:45am Introduction to Sensory Evaluation continued

11:45am-12:30pm 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

12:30pm -1:30pm LUNCH

1:30pm – 2:30pm Mono-Varietal Honeys

Compare and contrast varietal honeys selected from across North America and beyond

Presenters: Amina Harris, and Orietta Gianjorio

2:30pm – 3:00pm Quality Scoring and Judging

How this is different from Descriptive Analysis

Presenters: Hanne Sivertsen and Orietta Gianjorio

3:00pm – 3:15pm Break

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

Enjoy some honey with cheese in the foyer

3:15pm – 4:00pm 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.

Presenters: Orietta Gianjorio and Amina Harris

4:00pm – 4:30pm How Different Sugars affect the Flavor and Sweetness of Honey

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

Presenter: Amina Harris

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 – 9:30am 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: Elina Nino; Extension Apiculturist; Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis

9:30am – 10:30am 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

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 - 2:45pm  Honey Aroma Analysis

Gas chromatography has shown each varietal honey to have its own unique aroma pattern. How will this help us taste individual honeys and reduce the ability to adulterate our favorite sweet?

Presenter: Alyson Mitchell; Professor, John Kinsella endowed chair, Co-Director of the Food Safety Measurement Facility, Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis

2:45pm – 3:00pm Break

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

Enjoy some honey with cheese in the foyer

3:00pm - 3:30pm  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

3:30pm – 4:45pm How Well Have We Done?

In this final tasting and analysis you will assess your personal performance in honey sensory attributes.

Presenters: Amina Harris, Hanne Sivertsen and Orietta Gianjorio

4:45pm -5:00pm   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

  • November 10-11, 2017: Honey Sensory Experience: An Introduction
  • January 11, 2018: Mead Making Bootcamp
  • January 12-13, 2018: Beginner's Introduction to Making Mead
  • February 2-3, 2018: Intermediate Mead Making: The Styles and Nuances of Mead (TBD)
  • March 3, 2018: Bee Symposium - Lead speaker Tom Seeley
  • May 5, 2018: Annual California Honey Festival (TBD)
  • August 13-18, 2018: Advanced Mead Making (TBD)


Other Campus Events



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