What does ‘Raw Honey’ mean?

Raw honey means that our honey is neither ultra-filtered nor heated to temperatures over 117F.  We do filter through a double-sieve strainer to remove all the large chunks of beeswax, honey bee particles, and sizeable pieces of propolis that come off our honey frames during extraction because to the common customer these things are considered undesirable to have in their bottled honey. However, the mesh gauges in a double sieve are still large enough to allow tiny bits of pollen and propolis to flow through. This is a good thing as it allows our customers to use our honey as a supplement against seasonal plant allergies and it allows the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine the plant sources and state region from which our honey came! We heat our honey slightly, but never past 95-100F (the inside of a beehive is 93.5F) using a water-jacketed bottling tank because raw honey (with the exception of certain varietals such as black locust or tupelo) hardens or ‘sets’ over time making bottling nearly impossible otherwise. Heating honey past 117F would destroy all the good enzymes, pollen proteins, flavor, and basically every great reason you would want to consume honey for. With this said, about 90% of the honey on store shelves (which almost always comes from other countries) is heated to very high temperatures to lengthen the amount of time honey stays liquid and is ultra-filtered to remove all pollen grains. It may not even be pure honey and could contain large amounts of high fructose corn syrup unless otherwise stated!

We have heard the bees are having a rough time recently, is this true?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in the recent media hype about pollinators dying in mass numbers. This has to do with many factors that they are facing all at once which include:

1. Conversion of former diverse flowering crops/orchards into corn and soybeans, mostly for livestock feed and ethanol production. These are desertlands for bees whom can gather neither nutritious pollen (protein) for their young brood nor large quantities of nectar to produce honey (carbohydrates) for adult food. Pollinators near vast stretches of these crops essentially starve to death.

2. Varroa mites, which are rather large, red, tick-like parasites, have tormented honey bees and beekeepers alike in the United States since the 1990s. Alone, they do not generally cause too much damage because all honey bee hives have them. However, a colony affected by other environmental and human factors which is already weak will often succumb to them.

3. Pesticides have been around for many decades now, but many are not studied extensively before use on how they affect pollinators.  There is also the problem that pesticides are almost always tested by the company that makes them and not an unbiased outside source.

4. Fungicides on many crops that honey bees pollinate have also proven to have a detrimental effect on the gut absorption of honey bees. This can lead to severely malnourished and weak bees that are unable to process food and therefore are more susceptible to illness, have reduced fertility, and in severe cases do perish.

5. We have become a country of mass monoculture (large swaths of one or two crops that stretch for acres or miles). This means that pollinators are not able to get the variety of pollens and nectars that they need for proper nutrition. Imagine how your body would function if you had only one or two types of foods to eat your entire life!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all that is affecting our native and local pollinators, but it should give you a pretty good idea of the big picture these insects are facing!

My honey has turned solid (crystallized) and opaque in color, has it gone bad?

No, your honey has not gone bad and please do not throw it away! Did you know that the United States is just about the only place in the world that desires its honey to be only in the liquid state? Most citizens of other countries wouldn’t even consider buying honey unless it was solidly crystallized or ‘set.’ However, if you desire your honey to return back to a liquid state, do not worry! Just heat up a warm pot of water on the stove, take the pot off the burner, and put your crystallized glass jar of honey in the pot. It should be liquid again in less than an hour. Another option to return crystallized honey to a liquid state is to set the jar up in a vehicle windshield for a couple hours on a warmer day.

Should I microwave raw honey to turn it back to liquid?

Absolutely Not!  DO NOT MICROWAVE HONEY!!!! It destroys everything good in honey for you and ruins the flavor!

I would love to convert the use of sugar in my baked goods to honey, but how should I go about this?

Honey is a MUCH stronger sweetener than sugar, so a good rule of thumb is to use about 2/3 cup honey substituted per cup of sugar.  You are also going to want to reduce your oven temperature by about 25F because honey causes baked goods to brown much faster, and you are also going to possibly want to slightly reduce the liquids you are baking with. Honey has the benefits of making much moister baked goods as it naturally draws moisture from the air (honey is only about 17% water, which is why open containers of honey will ferment if they are left open too long…the honey draws moisture from the air) and also making more flavorful (each varietal of honey lends a different flavor), healthier baked products.

I have bees (on my tree, in/on my house, in my yard, etc.)! Will you come remove them for me?

First of all, are they fuzzy? If not, they are probably not ‘bees’ at all but rather a meat-eating or carrion scavenging member of hymenoptera such as the hornets or wasps which can, and do, sting repeatedly without dying (honeybees die after the first sting). We do not remove hornets or wasps, and would prefer that you call a pest-removal specialist to take care of your stinging insect problem. That said, if you are within a REASONABLE distance from us (i.e. 20 to 25 miles at most, exceptions MAY be made based on the situation), and we have confirmed that the issue is indeed a honeybee swarm, at our discretion we will attempt to remove the honeybees to a safer, new home.