Miel de Granada
DOP Miel de Granada is a Spanish honey made by bees (Apis melifera) from the nectar of flowers or the secretions either exuded by the live parts of plants or found on them, which the bees gather, transform, combine with their own specific substances, store and allow to mature in the honeycombs stored in hives located in the designated area. The types of honey are single-flower honeys made from chestnut flowers (Castanea sativa), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), thyme (Thymus sp.), avocado (Persea americana), orange blossom (Citrus sp.) and lavender (Lavandula stoechas), mountain honey and multi-flower honey.
The area where the hives are located and the honey is extracted, i.e. the production area, comprises all the municipalities of the province of Granada, in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.
Method of production
At the time of the harvest, the bees are removed from the hive using the traditional method of brushing the bees with brushes having single or double rows of natural sow's bristle. The combs filled with honey are first decapped using the traditional method of knives previously heated with water on the boil. The honey is extracted from the combs by centrifugal force.
Containers for storing the honey are made of food-use plastic or of sheet metal painted with non-toxic paint.
Packaging must take place at the point of production in order better to protect the quality and authenticity of the product and hence the reputation of the designation of origin. The beneficiaries collectively bear full responsibility for this and there can be no doubt that the checks carried out in the area of production under their responsibility are detailed and systematic. They are undertaken by professionals with a specialist knowledge of the features of the product. It would be difficult to undertake the checks required to guarantee the product outside the area of production.
The quality of Granada honey is well-known and well-documented since the beginning of the 14th century. Honey has been produced in the area since time immemorial. The first documents come from Ibn al-Jathib (1313-1375), who, in his ‘Descripción del Reino de Granada’ comments on the abundant production of honey in and around Granada, areas which still today draw a substantial part of their revenue from this traditional resource. Hence, the honey was frequently referred to by various chroniclers of the time, who told of the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada by the Christian armies.
After the conquest, the municipalities started to sort out the various economic activities. Hence, in Baza, the ‘Libro de Propio’ of 1564 tells of how the municipal government levied taxes on the hives located in the mountains around Baza, rosemary honey having acquired some fame.
In Granada's register of trades (1752), the trade of ‘keeper of beehives’ was expressly mentioned. In 1777, Juan de la Serna's ‘Diccionario Geográfico o descripción de todos los reinos’ (Geographic Dictionary or description of all the kingdoms) says, when referring to Granada, that it is a kingdom rich in wax and honey. Sebastián de Miñano (1826) again mentions the abundance and excellent qualities of the honey from Granada in his ‘Diccionario Geográfico Estadístico de España y Portugal’ (Geographic and Statistical Dictionary of Spain and Portugal), listing the important honey-producing areas of Granada as Baza, Alhama de Granada, Güejar-Sierra and Guadix. Again, Pascual Madoz, in his ‘Diccionario Geográfico, Estadístico e Histórico de España’ (Geographic, Statistical and Historical Dictionary of Spain) stresses the variety, abundance and excellent qualities of the Miel de Granada. He recounts that white honey is very abundant around Loja, and also that large quantities of honey are produced at the coast (La Garnatilla and Motril). Also Tomás López, in his ‘Diccionario Geográfico de Andalucía: Granada’ (Geographic Dictionary of Andalusia: Granada), compiled in the last quarter of the 18th century, again mentions certain areas in the province of Granada, such as Quéntar or Ribera de Oveja (close to Granada), where beehives and honey abound.
In 1888, Luis Morell y Terry undertook a census, estimating the number of hives at some 15,000, with the traditional areas in terms of quantity of hives still being the eastern hills, the Alpujarra and the city of Granada. In the same year, Ms Bertha Wihelmi introduced and promoted in the province hives with movable panels, gradually replacing the traditional (Arabic) fixed hives. In this way she converted Granada into a pioneering province which led the way in developing new techniques of bee-keeping. In May 1909 the magazine ‘Granada Agrícola’ reported the interest shown by the German market in importing honeys from Granada because of their quality derived from the rich range of aromatic plants and herbs in its hills, particularly the Sierra Nevada.
The natural factors which directly influence the product include the terrain, climate and vegetation while the human factors include the inland migratory paths made by the bee-keepers of Granada.
The province of Granada has a wide variety of relief and climate which has a direct impact on the sector, influencing for example the inland migratory paths made by the bee-keepers as they seek different kinds of flowers. From the point of view of bee-keeping, this variety means that the bee-keepers of Granada can make hillside roads in the province, since the various flowering characteristics provide a yield at all times of the year. The type and season of flowering vary depending on altitude with the bee-keepers moving up and down the slopes and rarely covering a distance gratear than 50 km.
Hence the bee-keepers on the coast, in the Valle de Lecrín and the Alpujarra-Sierra Nevada normally move upwards, i.e. from the coast to the hills and vice versa in search of the vegetation which flowers depending on the altitude.
There is no doubt that the main factor which gives Granada honey or the special features which distinguish it from other honeys is the flowers in the province. It has over 296,000 ha of cleared hillside covered by aromatic plants of great importance to bee-keeping, plus large areas of chestnuts, orange trees and, on the coast, avocados, which are exclusive to the coasts of the provinces of Granada and Málaga.
Virtually 70 % of the owners of bee-keeping establishments in the province of Granada have links to protected areas (the Sierra Nevada national park and the nature parks of the Sierra Nevada, the Sierra de Baza, the Sierra de Huétor, the Sierra de Castril and the Sierras de Tejeda, Alhama y Almijara) which are their normal areas of residence. Their hives remain in these areas for part of the year, as an area of production or of over-wintering. The movement of bees which the keepers undertake throughout the province of Granada in search of the richest flower supplies throughout the year, or sites for over-wintering, subsequently provides honey from Granada with a genuine range of pollens.
These areas have remained isolated for a long period and bee-keeping has played an important economic role by providing an alternative source of agricultural income. The variety of flowers in these parks means that the honeys they produce offer unique and unusual combinations of flowers.
The Sierra Nevada alone has over 160 endemisms, of which some 60 are exclusive.
Studies of pollen in the province have identified some 92 forms belonging to about 50 botanical families. Granada honey typically contains the spectrum comprising the families Cistaceae, Lamiaceae, Fagaceae, Rosaceae, Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Fabaceae, Borraginaceae, Salicaceae, Campanulaceae, Resedaceae, Plantaginaceae, Apiaceae, Caesalpinaceae and Lauraceae. This knowledge of the pollen spectrum of Granada honey, together with the considerable quantity of botanical endemisms, enables one to find geographical indicators which enables one to differentiate clearly this production from that from the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.
Reference: The European Commission