The Real Honey Hunt


While pondering on what I would actually write on here today I came across a very interesting ‘article’ on Buycott about Honey.  I have to confess I’m a bit of a lazy armchair activist however using buying power to create some change is one thing I’m more than able to do!

Since I LOVE honey and we use it so much as a sweetener and replacement to refined sugar this article ‘Save and Support the Bees as Much as you Can‘ really interested me and I’m sure it will interest you too ….. especially those in the US (where a lot of the data is based).  It talks about much of the honey on the shelves not actually being honey!   What?! Huh?! I can hear you say.


Yes….. many of the store honey tested (in article) actually contained no pollen count which effectively makes it fake honey.  It is a complicated story (aren’t they all when big business is involved) however the bottom line is that bee numbers are decreasing worldwide due to a combination of factors such as less plants to pollinate and the use of insecticides which means that colonies are in danger.  With colonies in danger honey production is down which then means that to meet demand (this is where we can make the difference) FAKE honey is being ‘shipped’ in.

Now … I’m not going to get into the political side of this issue here however if you want to read more then Food Renegade has an interesting post on this topic or read the article ‘Save and Support the Bees as Much as you Can‘and, of course, you can Google till your heart and head are content!  Instead here I will cut and paste below the 5 things you can do (according to the article) to save the bees and help in the real honey hunt.  The two easiest?  Plant bee friendly plants in your garden and buy local honey 🙂

From Buycott campaign ‘Save and support the Bees as much as you can’

Action #1: Tell your local state congressman that you want the use of neonicotinoids, clothianidin and other harmful bee killing pesticides to stop being manufactured and used all together.

Action #2: Plant bee friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden: Bees are losing habitat all around the world due to intensive monoculture-based farming practices, pristine green (but flower-barren) sprawling suburban lawns and from the destruction of native landscapes. Just planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will help provide bees with forage. Avoid chemically treating your flowers as chemicals can leach into pollen and negatively affect the bees systems. Plant plenty of the same type of bloom together, bees like volume of forage (a sq. yard is a good estimate).Here are a few examples of good plant varieties: Spring – lilacs, penstemon, lavender, sage, verbena, and wisteria. Summer – Mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle. Fall – Fuschia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, verbena, toadflax. For a great list of plants honeybees love click here.

Action #3: Buy Local, raw honey: The honey you buy directly sends a message to beekeepers about how they should keep their bees. For this reason, and for your own personal health, strive to buy local, raw honey that is from hives that are not treated by chemicals. It can be hard to find out what is truly “local” and truly “raw”–and even harder yet to find out what is untreated. Here’s a few guidelines: If you find it in the grocery store and it’s imported from China, don’t buy it. There have been a number of cases recently of chemically contaminated honey coming from China. If it’s coming from the grocery store, but it doesn’t say the words “pure” or “raw” and you can’t read in the description that it’s untreated by chemicals, don’t buy it. If it’s untreated, the label will say, as this is an important selling point. We recommend a simple solution for most people. Go to your farmer’s market and shake hands with the beekeepers you meet. There are beekeepers at nearly every farmer’s market selling their honey and other products. Have a conversation with them, find out what they are doing to their hives, and how they are keeping their bees. If they are thoughtful, respectful beekeepers who keep their bees in a sustainable, natural way, then make a new friend and support them!

Action #4: Bees are thirsty, put a small water basin outside your home: You may not have known this one—but it’s easy and it’s true! If you have a lot of bees starting to come to your new garden of native plants, wildflowers and flowering herbs, put a little water basin out (a bird bath with some stones in it for them to crawl on does a nice trick). They will appreciate it!

Action #5: Buy local organic food from a farmer you know: What’s true for honey generally holds true for the rest of our food. Buying local means eating seasonally as well, and buying local from a farmer that you know means you know if that food is coming from a monoculture or not. This is much easier in the summer when you can get your fresh produce from a local farmer’s market. Another option is to get your food from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm. Keep in mind, USDA Organic Certification can be expensive and you may find many great farmers and beekeepers with excellent food and honey that isn’t USDA certified simply because they don’t produce a high quantity or opt for the expense of certification. Don’t let this get in the way of supporting them and if you’re worried about their products—have a conversation with them. (Ed. Note – A huge challenge for beekeepers is to keep their bees in an area where there is no chemical spray within 3 miles, as this is really what is required to guarantee truly organic honey. All the more reason for us all to avoid the use of harsh chemicals.)

Hope this finds you enjoying the real sweetness in life.