July 13, 2016
By Vicky Falcón
Honey season is upon us! Yes, there is a honey season. Beekeepers generally harvest honey once each year (in early July in Maryland) and that harvest has to keep our families and customers satisfied until next summer.
Honey supers are the hive boxes that sit atop the main hive bodies collecting honey during the spring and early summer (see photo – mine are the smaller yellow boxes). Our honey harvest comes from those boxes – the extra stores put away by the bees during the peak of the nectar flow. Beekeepers do not take stores from the main hive body, since we are mindful that the hive will need to eat in the days
ahead. The pollen, nectar and honey in the main body will keep the hive alive and nourished through winter.
If you eat honey from the grocery or big box store, you should find a local beekeeper and compare that purchase with what’s on your pantry shelf. You’ll find the color, taste and purity of the local product is far superior to what you’ve been eating.
Local honey will vary in color from dark brown to light yellow and may be slightly cloudy or have crystals. Commercial honey will be universal in color, as many types of honey are mixed prior to bottling. Local honey will have unique floral flavors based on the type of nectar to which the bees have access.
Generally, the darker the honey, the stronger or more pronounced the flavor. Commercial honey is often more bland because all flavors are mixed together prior to bottling and because it is also pasteurized – a process that destroys microorganisms (and flavor) with heat. Honey is famed for its
antibacterial properties, so pasteurization has no effect but to eliminate its unique floral flavor. NOTE: It’s important to keep raw honey from children under one year of age as there is a risk of botulism poisoning. But with normal immune systems, children one year and older can benefit from and enjoy raw honey.
Local or pure honey is strained to remove large particles, then bottled and sold – that’s it! Some raw honey isn’t even strained! Many brands of honey found on “big box” store shelves come from outside the United States, where there are few regulations controlling additives, antibiotics and shipping. Some imported honey has even been tainted with heavy metals.
Local honey is delicious to eat and healthy for you because it is pure and raw. Supplies of honey are at their peak in July, so stock up now.
Yes, we’re doing a full email that will have the two bee articles, plus the map, plus a “plant a bee friendly” garden blurb leading people to the resources on our temporarily non-existent resources page related to planting a bee friendly garden.
Vicky Falcón is a beekeeper and the owner of Falconcrest Farm.