Varietal honeys are usually more expensive than blended honeys because of the difficulty and expense of keeping them as pure as possible. Because bees do their own thing, no varietal honey is 100 percent any single variety of nectar—so be very wary of claims that they are. Producers of varietal honeys do their best to produce a reasonably pure product. The proof that they succeed is in the bottle: it doesn’t take long to learn to recognize a variety by taste, color, and fragrance. But a reputable beekeeper will never “guarantee” that his varietal honey is totally pure.
Infused honey is very popular right now, probably due to the immense success of infused cooking oils. If you are seeking to buy infused honey, that is fine. But if you are trying to buy a varietal honey, look out for those that are actually infused. For example, one site on the Internet says, “Our lavender honey tastes like lavender smells.” The problem here is the phrase “lavender honey.” If you read further, you will see they are selling generic honey that has been infused with lavender blossoms—a different thing altogether.
In the April 2010 American Bee Journal, the authors of a piece about fireweed discuss a recipe they saw in an Alaska newspaper for “fireweed honey”—a concoction of fireweed and clover blossoms boiled in sugar syrup. They don’t bother using any honey at all!
Along those same lines I found an Internet recipe for “Honey Syrup” made from sugar, corn syrup, whipped cream, and vanilla extract. Why they call this “honey” syrup is totally beyond my comprehension.
The take home lesson here is caveat emptor. Read labels carefully to be sure the product you are paying for is actually the one you want. Ask if you are still unsure. Let sellers know you do not appreciate misleading labels.