Why buy local honey?
While there may be anecdotal evidence of the health effects of local honey, there is little scientific evidence of the effect on allergies. Nevertheless, locally produced honey is one of the most natural and healthful sweeteners available to consumers today.
While raw, unfiltered honey contains pollen, some folks will use pollen granules collected from local honey bees to supplement their nutrition. Pollen consists of approximately 35% protein, 10 % sugars, and has been shown to contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, and other trace enzymes and minerals. These nutrients are available in a natural, non-synthetic form that may be easier for your body to use.
My honey crystallized, is it bad?
Not at all. All honey will eventually crystallize. Local, minimally processed honey will crystalize faster because the pollen hasn’t been completely filtered out. The pollen particles give the sugar crystals something to start crystallizing around. Honey sold in many grocery stores has been highly filtered to remove the pollen so that it won’t crystallize on the shelf. Honey can be re-liquefied by applying gentle heat, either in a warm oven or warm water, watching the honey and removing it as soon as it becomes liquid again.
Why is some honey “Ultra-filtered?”
Under US law, honey must be labeled as to the country of origin, and the FDA also doesn’t require the presence of pollen for honey to be called honey. The US government has also put high tariffs on honey from certain countries due to “dumping” issues. They were exporting cheap honey into our country and harming the beekeeping industry. To get around these tariffs, these countries began the practice of ultra-filtering their honey (at high temperatures through very fine filters) to remove any traces of pollen, the only sure way of determining the geographical origin of the honey. The honey is then shipped to another country not subject to tariffs, re-labeled as being from that country and shipped to our country. This is the honey that ends up in food stores, often with American sounding names.
Why is local honey so expensive?
The honey found in grocery stores as mentioned above most likely has been imported, it may even not be 100% pure honey due to it having been mixed with high-fructose corn syrup or other low-cost sweeteners. When you purchase local honey from a local beekeeper you are buying a premium product that has been minimally processed.
There has been a lot of news about a problem confronting beekeepers called “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD). This has affected smaller beekeepers to a greater extent than large commercial beekeepers because they usually don’t have the resources to deal with the problem. Losing 1 out of 100 hives isn’t the same as losing 1 out of 5 hives. Beekeepers are dealing with some introduced pests such as the Varroa mite, pesticides such as neonicotinoids, as well as other diseases that can harm the bees. There is no consensus on one cause of CCD, but evidence points to a combination of the above factors that eventually overwhelm the colony. This has led many small, local beekeepers to abandon the trade because it’s become increasingly expensive to replace their bees every year.
True local honey is produced mostly by beekeepers who generally have less than 20 hives located in a tight geographical radius of 50 to 100 miles. These beekeepers will do their own extracting and bottling of their honey at normal temperatures using minimal filtering to remove bits of wax and other naturally occurring items.
Since it is nearly impossible to ascertain that there are no pesticides or herbicides being used in the roughly five-mile radius that bees will forage, saying that honey is truly organic is also nearly impossible. If you do see honey that's labeled "organic," look at the fine print on the label. It is most likely from a foreign country that may not have the same stringent definition of "organic" as the USDA does.
- All information, presented, herein is for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed or intended as providing medical or legal advice. Decisions you make about your family's healthcare are important and should be made in consultation with a competent medical professional.