Honey at the grocery store is filtered and sometimes graded, Grade A being the best. Catherine Barry, director of marketing for the National Honey Board, says the USDA has a grade scale based on four criteria. But, just because honey labels don’t say Grade A doesn’t mean you aren’t getting a top notch product. Grading is voluntary –and you rarely if ever see a Grade B or C on honey.
Raw honey is straight from the hive with very little processing. John Timmons with the Missouri Bee Keepers Association says raw honey contains fine particles of pure beeswax and pollen. The processed commercial honey you find in the store is heated and more finely filtered for a clear look. He says processing extends the shelf life of honey.
The honey harvest is getting underway a bit earlier this year. Missouri State Beekeepers Association Vice President John Timmons says spring came early, so the bees have been busier than normal.
“So, it looks like it’s going to be a pretty good year for honey production. And, I think that’s the case from the reports I’m getting across the region,” Timmons tells Brownfield Ag News.
The current dry spell is not likely to affect honey production, Timmons says, unless it becomes a prolonged drought or, conversely, if there is a rainy season. At this point in the forecast, a lot of rain doesn’t appear likely.
What makes honey so healthy? We found out from the 2011 American Honey Queen who made a recent stop in central Wisconsin. Teresa Bryson is a college student and beekeeper from Pennsylvania who promotes honey and beekeeping. She says honey is good for you inside but also on the outside. However, it’s advised that infants NOT be fed honey until they are at least a year old because infant botulism can develop in their immature digestive systems.
Honey production in much of Missouri has been hurt by too much rain this spring and summer. Brownfield talked with the eastern director of the Missouri State Beekeepers Association, Steve Harris, at the Missouri State Fair.
“The rain is just cutting down on the amount of nectar the plants produce,” said Harris. “So, there is no nectar for the bees to collect so there is no honey.”
Harris says if they’re lucky and it doesn’t rain too much in the coming months, they might get some honey harvested this year.
“There is a fall honey flow—nectar flow is actually what it is called—that might work out,” said Harris.
Harris says beekeepers will do what they can to try and keep the bees alive over the winter.
“Feed them sugar, try to keep them alive and just hope, there is not much more we can do,” said Harris.
In addition to the weather, there are other problems. Harris says CCD (or, Colony Collapse Disorder) seems to be creeping in, but is less of a problem for beekeeping operations that are stationary. He says the Verroa mite is still present and the small hive beetle has also been a problem this year.
Honey production in Indiana last year from producers with five or more colonies totaled 288,000 pounds down 39 percent from 2008, the number of colonies in the state increased by 29 percent to 9,000.
Nationally, honey production from producers with five or more colonies totaled 144 million pounds, a 12 percent decline from 2008.