Honey Is Fast Becoming A Rare Commodity so, whether in person or by emailing a company online, make sure to ask the following questions.
- 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 know best and do not use poisons to interfere. ANOTHER QUESTION JUST AS IMPORTANT is “are you using antibiotics and / or other medications in the hive. If yes, move on even if the beekeeper is defending their practice. That is fine but you have options and don’t need to settle for their product.
- Do you feed your bees a diet of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup?
You want to source from a beekeeper that only sells surplus honey, not everything the hive produces. The beekeeper you want to buy from does not take all the honey and then feeds them other “foods” like sugar and corn syrup. The beekeeper you want always makes sure to leave plenty of honey for the hive and sells the remainder. Now, sometimes in the winter when bees are not pollinating, your ideal beekeeper will feed their bees sugar if they are in dire need of food. Ideally they feed them honey if there is enough on hand but temporary is one thing and living on a diet of sugar is another. Imagine if you were on that diet. RULE OF THUMB? If the bees have no honey than we shouldn’t either.
- 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 up to thousands of 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.
And, how will 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. All you have is instinct, so use it! Did your answers come enthusiastically and with pride from a beekeeper excited to share their story or was the source rude, defensive and rushing you along the way? 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 even if it is not your intention because no beekeeper who is on the up and up will want to hire someone who is concerned about these practices.
AND BEFORE YOU GO MEET YOUR POLLINATORS. THEIR NAMES BEGIN WITH B: Bees, Bats, Birds and Butterflies
Grow Pollinator Friendly Plants
Learn About Our Other SuperPollinator – The Native Bee