Eating local honey is touted as the only honey you should ever buy but in our modern day, does this rule of thumb still reign supreme? With honeybee populations in peril and every person needing to do their part to help out, you may find yourself living in Los Angeles abut buying honey from Montana.
This is when engaging with your beekeeper, whether at the farmer’s market or by visiting their website online matters! and there. Email them or call their customer service numbers and ask them the questions below and when it comes to commercial brands or cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios, don’t waste your time. Start off being selective and from there you will get very close to meeting your standard.
Honey Is Fast Becoming A Rare Commodity. Shop Smart.
THE BIG THREE! ALWAYS ASK:
- Do you under any circumstances use acids or chemicals in the hives to kill mites and other pests?
- If the answer is yes, move on. Acids should never be a part of an organic and sustainable beekeeper’s practice because they know that nature is nature and that it’s all about survival of the fittest. Treatment-free beekeepers let the bees handle their problems as bees do best. They do not in any way use poisons to interfere.
- Do you feed your bees a diet of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup?
- Diet meaning daily. You want a beekeeper that only sells surplus honey leftover from the bees, not everything the jive produces, leaving nothing for the bees. This is why they feed them other “foods”. Now every once in a blue moon (in winter when bees are not pollinating) some beekeepers will feed their bees sugar if they are in dire need of food, but temporary is one thing and living on a diet of sugar is another. Imagine if you were on that diet. I believe if the bees have no honey than we definitely shouldn’t! That’s that!
- Do you support a migratory practice i.e. you work your bees hundreds, even thousands of miles from their natural environment to pollinate monocultures (one crop for acres and acres)?
- Guess what, bees, just like humans thrive in biodiverse environments so being forced into sterile environments that grow acres upon acres of one crop (monocultures) can wreak havoc on a pollinator. Also, sometimes a beekeeper has to mimic spring to trick their bees into leaving the hive and get busy and one great way to do this is to feed them lots of sugar. Not good anyway you look at it.
Dee Lusby is an organic beekeeper that I once sourced honey from for Elique but it is so hard to find her honey now but wow, hers was amazing. Whenever it was tested for a common 171 pesticides (yep that’s common in commercial honey folks) found in honey, hers had not ONE! Is it local? Not to me in South Cali but it’s free from 171 pesticides and that’s a darn fair tradeoff, don’t you think? Now I source from Alisha Taff who owns Rock Front Ranch. Her honey is independently tested to be Glyphosate free! These are my types of honey.
So, how do you know if the three big answers you get to your three big questions are truthful? Well, you don’t unless you have a lab at home to test your honey. Let’s face it, all you have is instinct, so use it! Did your answers come via open dialogue from a passionate beekeeper who was happy to talk about his bees and his sustainable practices or was your conversation rushed, evasive and maybe even argumentative (urgh). Trust your gut! It is rarely ever wrong.
Some other great questions to ask that will help suss out a beekeeper’s practice are “How are your hives doing?” “How did the bees survive the winter?” “Are you losing hives?” “Can I be an intern?” That last question is a great one to ask because no beekeeper who is on the up and up will want to hire someone who is so concerned and also knows their stuff!
THAT CUTE BEAR…
Many conventional brands package their honey in plastic bears. Not only would I avoid buying food that sits in plastic for more than a minute, know that most honey on the market is questionable and from origins unknown. It could contain lead, refined beet sugar (GMO) and yes, HFCS. It could also be loaded with chemicals Make sure to read all wording, front and back and spend more for the “raw” “organic” “wild” and “sustainable” when in doubt. Then go home and do a little research…
And Don’t Get Me Started On Honey Stix
Honey sticks make me cringe – talk about origins and ingredients unknown… I would love to get them banned at farmer’s markets, especially because you can only sell what you grow/harvest and no beekeeper I know fills up these tiny plastic straws with colored honey. This is another example too when instinct is everything. Just look at those bright colors. Are they FD&C carcinogenic colors or will the beekeeper tell you they are “all natural”? C’mon now! The point is you don’t know what they are and that should be reason enough to err on the side of caution.
MEET YOUR POLLINATORS
THEIR NAMES BEGIN WITH B:
Bees, Bats, Birds and Butterflies
Learn About Our Other SuperPollinator – The Native Bee