Category Archives: Honeyberry, Haskap (Loniera)

Pollinators and honey berries

This research from Lublin, Poland affirms the common knowledge about honey berries. They need insect pollination, and fruit size is related to the number of seeds per fruit. They are pollinated by honey bees, solitary bees and bumble bees. Flowers that were bagged and isolated showed less than 25% fruit set, whereas flowers exposed to insect pollinators had more than 88% fruit set. Interesting that honey bees don’t really enter the picture in Alaska because bloom time is so early, temperatures are still relatively cool, and honey bees are still shivering in their hives. Bumble bees, by far, are the most important pollinator in Alaska.

Bozek, M. 2012. The effect of pollinating insects on fruiting of two cultivars. Journal of Apicultural Science. 56(2):5-11.

S u m m a r y: In 2004 and 2006-2008, a study was conducted on the effect of pollinating insects on the fruit, seed set, and development of two cultivars of blue honeysuckle Lonicera caerulea (Sevast.) Pojark.: Atut andDuet”. The experiment was carried out in south-eastern Poland, at the Experimental Farm of the University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Poland. Flowers accessible to pollinating insects throughout the whole fl owering period, set fruit at a very high percentage. The study average was 90.57% for “Duet” and 88.08% for “Atut”. During self-pollination under isolation, on the other hand, the percentage of fruit-bearing fl owers was low. In the case of “Atut” the average was 9.37%, whereas for “Duet” it was 23.85%. Multiple fruits formed from isolated fl owers had a 45-50% lower weight, on average, than those developed from fl owers accessible to pollinating insects. The pollination mode was found to have a signifi cant effect on the number of seeds produced in the multiple fruit. Flowers which were isolated to prevent insect foraging did develop multiple fruits, characterized by a signifi cantly lower number of seeds. The recent studies confi rm that several cultivars should be planted on honeysuckle acreage. The presence of managed pollinators can increase quantity and improve quality of fruit yield in honeysuckle.

Insect pollinators of haskap ( Lonicera caerulea L.: Caprifoliaceae) in subarctic Canada

Open Agriculture. 2019; 4: 676-683.  by Maria C.-Y. Leung*, Jessica R.K. Forrest

Everyone who has ever grown haskaps (honeyberries) knows that they attract bumble bees. In Fairbanks, they bloom so early, and air temperatures can be cool, that honeybees can be insufficient for good berry production. Researchers Maria Leung and Jessica Forrest showed that bumble bees rule the day. The authors also reported that commercial berry production Yukon doubled from 2011 and 2016, and the most prevalent berry crop is haskap.

Haskaps are self incompatible and require two compatible cultivars for pollination. and they attract a variety of insects including bee flies, syrphid flies, honeybees, butterflies and bumblebees. The researchers counted and identified insect visitors in commercial fields between 11 am and 5 pm on cool, sunny days near Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Bumble bee visitors ranged from 96% to 32% of all insect visitors. Despite the flower architecture which is trumpet shaped and would hint at butterflies, they were the least common insect visitors. Native insect are very important to pollination in the North. The authors contrasted their results with Saskatchewan where honey bees outnumbered bumble bees as insect visitors on hasps. Anyone who gardens in the North should promote nesting sites for native bumble bees.

Abstract: Recently, the Yukon has seen a large growth in agricultural activity. Crops of commercial interest for local consumption and the export market include domestic berries, especially haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.). However, information on the pollination of these crops in our northern climate is lacking. To begin addressing this knowledge gap, we characterized foraging habits of on-farm bees in southwest Yukon by: 1) identifying pollen collected by bees occupying solitary bee houses; and 2) identifying and counting insect visitors to haskap flowers. Results show that cavity-nesting bees collect a wide variety of pollen including pollen from haskap, and that bumble bees (Bombus spp.) were much more common on haskap flowers than domestic honey bees (Apis mellifera L.), other bee species, syrphid flies, and butterflies. The number of bumble bees per haskap flower was also higher than reported elsewhere in Canada. The ability of bumble bees to be active in cool temperatures and the proximity of the study farms to natural ecosystems likely explain the prevalence of bumble bees in this study. In Yukon, it is still possible to support insect pollinators by maintaining natural areas among agricultural lands. Such undeveloped lands are, at present, typical of agricultural landscapes in subarctic Canada.

Optimum nutrient levels in soils and leaves of haskap, Lonicera caerulea



Anyone interested in growing haskaps for berry production will be interested in this thesis from Halifax. Nova Scotia where Master’s student, Keene Mark-Anthony Iheshiulo attempted to find the optimum levels of soil nutrients and correlated that with tissue nutrient levels. This research is important because it gives growers and gardeners a good diagnostic tool for figuring out if nutrient deficiencies or excess exist. It provides a good marker for applying just the right levels of fertilizer in a season and avoiding wasteful applications of fertilizers. Theses are also great summaries of existing literature, and this one is no exception. It provides a nice overview of the haskap, the importance of macro and micro nutrients in fruit production, and soil and tissue testing.

Balanced nutrition is crucial for haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.) growth, productivity, and economically viable commercial production. However, there are no clearly established soil fertility and leaf tissue nutrient sufficiency levels. A field survey was conducted in 2015 and 2016 on 19 farms in Nova Scotia to identify optimal soil fertility and leaf tissue nutrient levels from 148 paired samples. Plant growth rate, leaf size and chlorophyll content were determined for the variety Indigo Gem after berry harvest in 2016. Using a boundary line approach, nutrient sufficiency levels in soil by Mehlich III extraction were 80-280 kg P2O5 ha-1, 260-570 kg K2O ha-1, 1300-4000 kg Ca ha-1, and 250-510 kg Mg ha-1, while leaf nutrient sufficiency ranges were 2.23-2.96.0% for N, 0.22-0.28% for P, 0.84-1.32% for K, 1.63-2.10% for Ca, and 0.14-0.50% for Mg. Further research is needed to validate fertility and leaf nutrient sufficiency ranges in relation to haskap yield 

The thesis is copyrighted and will not be shared here but is available online.

Improving Haskap Fruit Quality

This thesis reveals an interesting breeding program at the U. of Saskatchewan to improve the quality of Haskap berries and leaves. Their goal is to increase secondary metabolites or compounds that might be beneficial to human health.


Haskap Pie

Pie is one of my absolute favorite desserts and I don’t usually stray far from my favorites apple and cherry, but I found a recipe for haskap pie filling that I would definitely have to try if I ever came across it. I always find that from picking or obtaining the berry yourself, it is always that much more satisfying when you have the finished product!   LF Fairbanks


Haskap berries have twice as much juice in them as any other berry! We have found that frozen berries works better for pie filling instead of the fresh berry. If you use the fresh berry they tend to continue to leak out juice after baked.

4 cups of frozen Haskap berries
1 ½ cups sugar
4 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ cup of strained juice.

  • Place the frozen berries in a colander to thaw and drain overnight.
    • Save the strained juice. One option is to mix the juice with sparkling water on ice with a sweetener of your choice for a refreshing drink.
  • Place drained berries in a medium saucepan with the sugar
  • Bring to a boil , then turn down to a simmer
  • Add the cornstarch to the 1/4 c of juice
  • Add this slowly to the berry/sugar mixture while it is simmering and stir to thicken
  • Cool when thickened and pour into pre baked pie shell


2013. Haskap Recipes. Available online: Recipes. Accessed 19 Oct, 2016.

Maxine Thompson and her haskaps

This article highlights the life of Maxine Thomson for her contribution to breeding of and popularizing the Haskap.  She seems to be a rather amazing woman and this is a delight and an inspiration to read!
Martin, S. 2016.  Sweet Success.  Available Online: Maxine Accessed 17 Oct 2016.

Pollinators of Haskaps/honeyberries

Here is a link to a journal article comparing native and non-native pollinators of Haskap.  They concluded that native bumble bees (compared to orchard bees and honey bees) have the highest pollen deposition per visit, visited the most flowers in a given period of time and could fly at the coldest temperatures, making them the most suited for successful pollination at least in cooler springs.  Another interesting thing to note is Figure 1c in the paper.  It shows a fruit in which the bracteoles have not fused around the two ovaries of the paired flowers.  I find this interesting because I observed several fruits shaped like this and wondered what caused it.  Understanding the biology of the flower, the formation makes more sense! KD Fairbanks

Frier, S.D, C.M. Somers and C.S. Sheffield.  2016.  Comparing the performance of native and managed pollinators of Haskap (Lonicera caerulea:  Caprifoliaceae), an emerging fruit crop.  Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 219:42-48.

Haskaps in your Garden

Alberta Urban Garden Simple Organic and Sustainable. 2014. Planting Honey (Haskap) Berries in the Alberta Urban Garden. Available Online: Haskaps     This is a video of planting, adjustment and winter care instructions for planting the Haskap in your own garden! Worth the watch and very informative.

A new haskap cultivar from Maxine Thompson

Maxine Thompson has introduced several haskap cultivars over the years, and ‘Taka’ is the latest.

New Plant Patent

Haskap oral delivery system

I first read this thesis and laughed hysterically at the thought of developing an “oral delivery system for haskaps”. The author experimented with methods of optimum release and absorption of anthocyanins from haskaps. She developed “a theoretical physiologically-based, multi-compartmental pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model to describe the fate of anthocyanin”. Got that? So my myopic brain thought, “Here’s a novel oral delivery system– just eat the berries!”  Right?  After I stopped laughing, I read a little deeper and learned this article very seriously addresses haskaps as medicine. Think about a Type 1 diabetic who needs shots or a pump to deliver a measured amount of medicine throughout a 24-hour period. This research attempts to find out the best way to deliver measured amounts of anthocyanins from haskaps over long periods. I still prefer shoveling the berries into my mouth, but what would happen if you constantly bathed your cells in anthocyanins over hours, days, years? Interesting thought!

Haskap medicine

Bumble bees are best for haskap pollination

This research showed that bumble bees, Bombus terrestris were the most important pollinators of Lonicera cerulea, honey berry/haskap. Honey bees are good as a supplement but they don’t work in cold temperatures, and their efficiency is far less that the B.B.

2016.Frier et al.


This research examines the polyphenol, anthocyanin and antioxidant capacity of 4 cultivars of honey berry extracts. The abstract and citation are included.

AbstHaskap antioxidantsract

Processing and phenolic compounds in honey berry

The aim of the study was to evaluate different methods used for the preparation of powders from blue honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea L. var. kamtschatica) cv. ‘Wojtek’, and the effects of these methods on chemical composition and antioxidant activity of lyophilized powders and pomace. The analyzed samples were evaluated for their basic chemical composition (dry weight, pH, total acidity, sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose), and antioxidant capacity (FRAP, ABTS). Polyphenolic compounds were identified and quantified by UPLC-PDA-MS/MS. Thirty eight polyphenolic compounds, including eight phenolic acids, eight anthocyanins, five flavan-3-ols, twelve flavonols and five flavones were identified in blue honeysuckle products. The highest content of bioactive compounds was detected in juice pressed from peels, as compared with fresh berries and other products. Moreover, crushed berries were found to be a better material for obtaining dried product than intact fruit. Jan OszmiańskiAneta Wojdyło, and Sabina Lachowicz. 2015. LWT- Food Science and Technology. 2015. Effect of dried powder preparation process on polyphenolic content and antioxidant activity of blue honeysuckle fruits (Lonicera caerulea L. var. kamtschatica) Available Online: Abstract

Origin of Haskaps

This article is a succinct history of the haskap from Japan, Russia and Canada with dates.  Seems as though Alaska had some a little earlier than what is published here.  Haskap

Honeyberry Buckle

Modified from King Arthur Flour Company. 2003. The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. WW Norton & Co, New York.

Recipe:  Honeyberry Buckle (modified from a blueberry buckle recipe, ’cause “honeyberry buckle” is fun to say)

Batter:  3/4 cup sugar, 4 tbsp. butter, 1 large egg, 1/2 cup milk, 2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and cardamom, 1 tsp. vanilla extract.  2 cups fresh honeyberries OR 2 cups frozen NOT thawed. (Add while still frozen, or the batter will turn an unpleasant pinky-purple color.)

Streusel:  1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 2 tsp. lemon zest, 1/2 tsp. salt, 5 tbsp. softened butter.

For the batter:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream the butter and sugar, then add egg and mix at medium speed for 1 minute.  Whisk the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Stir half the dry ingredients into the butter/egg mixture, then stir in the milk and vanilla.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients, then gently fold in honeyberries.  Spread the batter in a greased 9-inch square or 9-inch round pan.

For the streusel: In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon, and salt.  Add the butter and mix with a fork or your fingers to make medium-sized crumbs.  Spring the streusel evenly over the batter.

Bake:  45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool in its pan on a rack.  Serve with coffee in the morning or with whipped cream or ice cream for dessert.

Honeyberry, haskap pests

During this week’s lecture we learned about the Honeyberry aka Haskap aka Sweetberry Honeysuckle aka a plethora of other names. Two pests of this plant were mentioned but some important ones I’ve personally encountered the past two years were not. These pests are robins (Turdus migratorius) and leaf rollers (Archips rosana).

I find the Latin species name for the robin very appropriate, Turdus. Once the robins have located your Honeyberry patch, they will visit every day until the berries are close to ripening and will devour them before you get a chance to even taste them for readiness. The devious little creatures will visit your patch every year once they know you have them. The best way to battle these pests is to build a net cage around the patch. Just laying netting on top and around does not prevent thievery. Robins will sit on top of the net and slip under the net. The net must be several feet away from the berries and securely attached to the ground to prevent any sneaking below the net. I constructed a cage around my small patch using the smallest size of bird netting available and some old fence posts. Ground staples are excellent for securing the netting to the ground. I was able to harvest nine pounds of berries this year compared to the previous year of nothing! Next year, I intend to make a sturdier structure using ¾ inch PVC pipe, zip ties and bird netting. This will make for easier harvesting and look a little better.

The second pest I’ve dealt with is a leaf roller which for the last two years have attacked the growing tips of my honeyberries. The first year I encountered them I was not able to get a positive identification. This year, I captured a few samples and brought them to our local Cooperative Extension Service Office. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technician identified them initially as the Spear-Marked Black Moth (Rheumaptera hastate), however, a later identification was made as the Rose Tortrix Moth, (Archips rosana). The recommended control method was the use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which I used but did not find very effective. I resorted to the best known method for insect pest control which is both effective and satisfying – pick and squish. I pruned my bushes this fall and removed all the leaves under the shrubs which could harbor overwintering pupae. Hopefully this next summer, I will see diminished problems with both the mentioned “pests”.

Honeyberry Antioxidants

Are Honeyberries the Newest Superfood?

If you’ve ever used honeyberries (aka haskap aka blue honeysuckle) in a recipe, you know how deep blue they are.  A handful of honeyberries can turn a whole recipe purple.  That much color has got to mean lots of antioxidants, right?  Research seems to suggest that they are indeed a nutritional powerhouse.  Here’s a link to a summery of several studies:   Honeyberry Antioxidants

Haskap Advice from Dr. Bors

This is a presentation that was done by Dr. Bob Bors from the University of Saskachewan.  Looks like it was an international presentation for crop week.  Lots of good information.  Goes alongside the earlier link in haskap category done by Bors.  Presentation link.

Haskap antioxidants

A great paper published in June of this year on the anti-inflammatory potential of Lonicera caerulea (haskap).  It specifically mentions the Borealis cultivar, as having the highest polyphenolis content. I will definitely be attempting to grow some on my property in the near future! Haskap antioxidants

Honeyberry Source

This website is for Honeyberry USA, which is a berry farm that sells cultivated berry bushes. They are located in Minnesota, so most of their berry bushes are cold-hardy. They mostly sell honeyberry bushes, but also have gooseberries, currants, and juneberries. Another item they sell is a mechanical pollinator for berry bushes. Honeyberry Source