Using Flavonoid and Polyphenol Testing of Honey to Improve Consumer Education

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G308-21-W8613
Grant Recipient: Rock Front Ranch
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Alisha Taff
Rock Front Ranch

Information Products


  • Animals: bees
  • Animal Products: honey


  • Crop Production: beekeeping, food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal summary:

    The American honey market is flooded with adulterated honey and consumers don't know how to determine which honey to buy. Until recently, there has been little technology for testing of honey to determine each honey's unique polyphenolic characteristics. 

    Rock Front Ranch's honey is produced in a geographically isolated area with a unique diversity of flora for bees to forage, including some plants with recognized healing components.

    Rock Front Ranch proposes to use state-of-the-art  Sweetwater Science Labs to determine the content and makeup of its two varieties of honey: Sage Honey and Wildflower Honey. The lab will use Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectroscopy to determine that pesticides and  pollutants are not present, in addition to listing each flavonoid contained in the honey.

    Rock Front Ranch will apply this research by describing the healing qualities of these flavonoids (for example, antioxidants and antiseptic compounds) and promoting the honey for its unique characteristics.

    Results will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific paper led by Dr. Michael Greenlief, who is the director of the Chemistry Mass Spectrometry Facility at the University of Missouri.

    Workshop and presentations will  be held in CA for beekeepers and consumers. to describe the results of the testing and the potential effect on consumer health of the identified compounds. The benefit of using the results of the study to enhance honey marketing will also be discussed.

    In addition, an informative brochure will be prepared  to educate beekeepers and consumers on the health-giving qualities of honey.






    Project objectives from proposal:

    Rock Front Ranch (RFR) proposes to utilize state-of-the-art testing from Sweetwater Science Lab in MO to use liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy to determine and analyze a wide range of flavonoids and polyphenols in RFR honey samples. Scientific studies show that it is the phenolic acids and flavonoids in honey which exhibit a wide range of biological effects and act as natural antioxidants. An article in Bee Culture, by Tianna Kolody, April 23, 2018 cites a study by Pyrzynska and Biesaga, in 2009, which states that it is the flavonoids and phenolic acids which give honey its unique flavors and antibiotic characteristics.

    RFR's isolated geography and diversity of flora provide a rich source of certified glyphosate-free honey. Using Sweetwater's testing, we seek to show a direct connection between the components that go into the honey and its unique character, and to demonstrate a high degree of antioxidant properties which could prove the honey to be an excellent immune-system booster. During the time of COVID 19, this research becomes increasingly important as consumers are looking for natural foods that will assist them in staying healthy.

    RFR will educate consumers on its findings by publishing a scientific paper in conjunction with Sweetwater Science labs, presenting at a symposium at the University of MO,  creating consumer-friendly marketing brochures, and by presenting 2 workshops and a Harvest Day for beekeepers and consumers in the Cuyama Valley of California, detailing the findings and the implications for better consumer health.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.