According to the International Commission for Bee Research (ICBR), pollen counts exceeding 12,00 per honey sample are needed to obtain percentages of taxa to an accuracy of within 1%. However, Moar (1985) recommends counts of 500-1,000 pollen grains per honey sample. These counts are sufficient to determine the precise geographic and botanical origin of each honey sample.
Codification of honey samples is done in many ways. The most accepted method was suggested by Louveaux et al. (1970, 1978). On the basis of pollen count of 200-300 per sample they may be categorized in different frequency classes.
a) Predominent pollen is the one which is represented by > 45% of total pollen count.
b) Secondary pollen occur between 16-45%.
c) Important minor pollen occur between 3-15%.
d) Minor pollen are below 3%.
Using the above frequency class system, honey sample can be codified as unifloral if it contains one predominant pollen type (e.g. clover honey, mustard, Eucalyptus honey). In case two pollen types are predominant both can be used in naming the honey (e.g. Baygall - tapelo honey). Honeys containing pollen grains predominantly belonging to single species or genus are called unifloral honeys. Such unifloral honeys are usually marketed under the name of their respective plant sources such as Clover honey, Jambul (Eugenia) honey, Mustard honey, etc.
If there are no predominant taxa, the honey should be classified as 'mixed floral' type. The frequency distribution of a pollen taxon in a series of honey samples is determined by dividing the number of samples in which a taxon occurs, by the total number of honey samples. Thus, a pollen taxon is classified as 'rare' if it is found in less than 10% of the samples, 'infrequent' if in 10-20%, 'frequent' if in 20-50% and 'very frequent' if in more than 50% of the samples.
Each unifloral honey has characteristic physico-chemical properties. Consumer preferences for unifloral honeys are based on these considerations. Pollen analysis in such cases serves to confirm the botanical sources of unifloral honeys.
In the case of multifloral honeys, pollen analysis indicates their botanical composition as represented by the spectrum of pollen variability. It can also reveal mixtures of different honeys as also their relative proportion approximately. Occurrence of both unifloral and multifloral honeys have been reported by Agashe and Rangaswamy (2003) from Karnataka, India (Fig. 12.6).
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