Further Notes on Honey and Honey Bees

Honey bees are the only pollinators that can provide us with honey. A frequent problem people have with locally-produced honey is that it crystallizes. It can be heated in water to return to a clear liquid state, but be sure that your water temperature does not exceed 110°F, or you risk destroying the beneficial nutrients present in natural unprocessed honey.

It is always best to purchase from a beekeeper you know to ensure you are buying pure honey. Much of the honey sold in big box stores may have been diluted, or worse, come from China. There is a February 2013 report from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about a major commercial fraud enterprise involving the illegal importation of honey from China. Two of the largest honey suppliers, Honey Solutions in Texas and Groeb Farms, Inc., in Michigan, together have been fined 3 million dollars. There are additional allegations of adulteration with antibiotics not USDA-approved for use in honey. (See Bee Culture, Magazine of American Beekeeping).

We are so fortunate in Minnesota to have a number of small local beekeepers, such as Jerry Kern, whose honey and other bee products are sold at HPC.

In addition, there are educational opportunities and ongoing research with honey and bumble bees taking place on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota under the direction of Professor Marla Spivak in the Department of Entomology. For those who would like to learn more about bees, or even consider becoming a beekeeper, go to <beelab.umn.edu> and choose "public courses." The two-day short course, "Beekeeping in Northern Climates," is held each spring. You will want to register early, as the course fills up quickly.

                                                                                                —Margot Monson