Yes, it sounds bold, but we have big ambitions for our Harvest Reserve honeys. They’re how we can literally save American honeys by preventing them from going to waste or being blended and filtered into typical mass-produced honeys. Not only are we protecting these unique flavors, we’re also bringing them to a wider audience instead of letting them go to waste.
While most people are well aware of campaigns to “save the bees,” these campaigns have made huge progress and today, honeybees are largely OK. (Though there are still many threats to bees – both domesticated and wild – being researched today.) However, beekeepers in the U.S. are more threatened than ever.
Beekeepers who keep their bees in one location with a variety of local pollen sources can often have healthier hives, but this is less lucrative than driving around the country and selling pollination services to farmers. By buying honey from local beekeepers, we help give them a reason to keep their hives local, while encouraging more new beekeepers as well.
Occasionally, when a local beekeeper is hit with an unusual weather pattern like heavy rainfall, drought or unseasonal weather, their bees will produce a honey that they just can’t make anywhere or anytime else, all because of what was in bloom. These exceptional honeys have flavors that are too distinct for mass-market, filtered honey companies and their limited production usually means no one outside of that beekeepers’ hometown gets to taste them. If they’re lucky, a honey love might discover a special honey at a local farmers’ market, but most people never even get the chance.
Thanks to our relationships with American beekeepers, we’re in the unique position to bottle lots of local honeys and share them with local honey lovers. Whenever a truly remarkable honey comes our way, we’ll make sure and share it. In the meantime, you can keep an eye out for new varietals on our homepage map.
Our new Orange Blossom varietal honey may seem simple, but producing a honey like this one is much more complex than the label makes it seem. Because, unlike most of our local varietals, it’s not just a matter of moving the hives and letting bees go to work.
Our Orange Blossom honey is only possible because our bees visited orange blossoms – and not much else. In practice, that’s pretty tough to pull off. Imagine: how would you get 50,000 bees to visit only one kind of plant? You can’t tell them what to do. After all, you’re not their boss – the queen is. This is why most mass-produced honeys are just labeled “honey,” without even bothering to tell you what they’re made from. Bees tend to go wherever they want, and beekeepers can usually only figure out what’s in their honey by testing it after the fact.
The secret to making Orange Blossom honey? Bee psychology.
While bees can travel up to six miles in search of pollen, they prefer to keep their trips short and sweet (sorry, had to) by visiting nearby flowers. Beekeepers can take advantage of this instinct by placing hives in a richly blooming orchard or field of crops. The honeys that result will have a unique flavor profile, one that might only be possible to produce a few days a year.
That makes single varietal (also known as monofloral) honeys like Orange Blossom a rare treat. This year, we were fortunate enough to be able to work with several American beekeepers whose hives spent bloom time in the orange groves of Florida and California. Surrounded by thousands of orange trees, their bees made honey predominantly with orange blossom nectar.
Why does all this matter? Because you can taste it! Orange blossom honey is one of the few varietals that a honey novice could recognize in a blind taste test. It tastes like oranges – big surprise, no doubt. The Local Hive™ Orange Blossom varietal in particular has a strong floral taste (as opposed to grassy or molasses-like flavor you might find in other honeys) with a bright hint of citrus. It’s excellent at breakfast: on pancakes, with warm biscuits or in tea.
Each of our raw & unfiltered local honeys is made from a mixture of floral sources: clover, berries and whatever happens to be growing near where the beekeepers place their hives. The result is a local honey that gives you a unique flavor profile that can’t be made anywhere else. That goes double for our Orange Blossom varietal. We’re extra proud to be able to bottle this rare & special, raw & unfiltered honey made right here by American beekeepers.
Mary Reisinger stays busy. Ever since her reign as 2020 American Honey Queen began, she’s had a packed schedule of travelling across the country for speaking engagements, beekeeper meetings, school visits, and – since March – virtual presentations.
In July, she met up with us to discuss beekeeping, local honey and her honey extraction process.
As a representative of the American Beekeeping Federation, Mary knows how hard it is to be an American beekeeper.
“We have different issues than other countries do. By working together with the researchers and other beekeepers in the United States, [the ABF is] focusing on the issues and important things to the American beekeeper.”
In Mary’s view, the two biggest issues are pests – like varroa mites – and nutrition. But fortunately, solving one can solve the other.
“We have to make sure that bees have the best nutrition in order to have the best defenses against these mites. A lot of times, bees don’t find enough food to eat. They need about 7–9 different kinds of pollen to have a balanced diet. A good food source, keeping them safe against pests, those are really the things we worry about as beekeepers.”
Mary will be quick to tell you just how important beekeepers are to our country: “For the livelihood of farmers, grocers, for everybody eating food, we have to focus on honey bee health in America.” But why is that?
“A lot of the fruits, vegetables and nuts that we grow here in America aren’t native. You have to bring bees that are native to those crops to pollinate them.” So, like our crops, our honey bees are imported, too: the European honey bee, apis mellifera, is the most common honey bee in the US.
And the responsibility for keeping them healthy and ready to work falls squarely on American beekeepers.
“Beekeepers are really vital, because when a farmer is growing his crop, he needs pollinators to come and pollinate. For instance, blueberries are grown in about 38 states. Each blueberry flower needs a bee to pollinate before it will produce fruit. If we didn’t truck our bees out to Maine, we wouldn’t have our great supply of blueberries.”
But as with any partnership, there’s a balance that needs to be struck. A farmer’s crops may need pollination when they’re not producing much nectar for the bees, or there may be a too-short window when bees can visit flowers, starving the hives. “[With farmers,] it’s really a give and take. You’ve got to have good food for the bees and good pollination for the flowers.”
While we need professional beekeepers to pollinate crops, we also need amateur beekeepers like Mary to help pollinate wild plants, backyards and other green spaces. Mary is a huge proponent of amateurs: “90% of beekeepers are hobby beekeepers, meaning they keep 1–25 hives.” Since a single hive can pollinate up to 12 square miles, just one amateur beekeeper in an area can make a visible difference: more blooms, more flowers and more biodiversity.
Mary has been keeping bees for nearly half her life and is now up to five hives – more than enough to qualify her as a hobbyist.
“I thought about beekeeping full-time, but I don’t think I’d survive too long with all the heavy lifting.” She’s not kidding: a full hive box with ten frames can easily weigh 50 lbs. She’s currently studying speech pathology in school but plans to always keep bees as a hobby, and not just because she’s the Honey Queen: “It’s really given me a purpose in life.”
Mary lives in Parker, Texas, just north of Dallas. After our chat, Mary took us to nearby Sabine Creek Honey Farms for honey extraction. Even before it was off the comb, she offered us a chance to taste it completely raw. Distinctly flowery, with a light berry taste, her honey has a uniquely Texan flavor. It was unexpectedly sweet, even for honey.
Although it takes a lab to know for sure, she’s confident that most of the flowery taste in her particular varietal comes from crepe myrtles in the surrounding area. In 2018, the last time her honey harvest was tested, she was surprised to find that it contained 10% poison ivy pollen.
John, the proprietor of Sabine Creek Honey Farms, chimed in that bees love the ivies and underbrush in the forests on the outskirts of DFW, so finding poison ivy pollen in Texas honey is no big surprise.
“You can eat poison ivy honey because the oils are on the plant, not the nectar,” she quickly explained. Phew!
After about 4 hours of lifting frames, scraping comb and letting the extractor spin, Mary had emptied 20 frames – about two full hive boxes’ worth – for a total of around 175 pounds of her own homemade honey. Not bad for an amateur.
June 22–28, 2020 is a big week in the honey world: Pollinator Awareness Week. We at Local Hive understand that not everyone gets to spend their days working with bees. So, let’s find out what the buzz is all about: what’s a pollinator, and why do they matter?
You’re a Pollinator
A pollinator is any living thing that carries plant pollen around from flower to flower, which helps plants reproduce. People, animals and insects usually don’t even realize when they’re pollenating. They’re just going about their lives, foraging or walking around, and happen to carry a little pollen along with them.
Honey bees are the world’s most preeminent professional pollinators. Beekeepers take them from farm to farm, letting them feast on acres of land where many of our favorite foods – like almonds, berries and squash – are in bloom. Once the bees help these plants reproduce, those fields are set to yield more than they ever could otherwise. In the US, American bees and beekeepers add around $20 billion of crops every year this way.
But bees aren’t the only pollinator that matters – just the one we depend on the most. There are the thousands of other species who play a part, including wasps, ants, bats, birds, rodents, monkeys and even the much-maligned “murder hornets”.
What’s Plaguing the Pollinators?
Humans are part of an invisible war on pollinators. When we selectively kill certain species of plants and animals – say, with insecticide, herbicide or weed killer – there are countless side effects that we can’t predict. This NPR interview with USDA entomologist Sammy “Doctor Buggs” Ramsey breaks down how these side effects threaten bees.
– When bees feed on only one crop, they don’t get a balanced diet. It’s like trying to live on potatoes alone; you won’t die, but you won’t be healthy. Weeds and wildflowers are valuable parts of their diet.
– Seemingly harmless pesticides can end up in a plant’s nectar and pollen, affecting bees in ways we can’t predict.
– Parasites like varroa mites destroy bee colonies from the inside out. Beekeepers the world over are studying ways to make their colonies resilient to this deadly, rapidly reproducing pest.
And that’s just apis mellifera. Just one species of one pollinator. All of them face unique threats. If many of our pollinators are facing extinction, where does that leave us?
The End of the World as We Know It
A little alarmist, sure, but pollinators tie our world together. They’re a key connector in most every ecosystem, helping to clean the air, create rich soil, prevent severe weather and support wildlife. While we humans love honey bees because they help us make dinner, more than 75% of flowering plants need pollinators. Without them, they wouldn’t be able to reproduce, animals wouldn’t be able to eat them, and countless ecosystems would be thrown out of whack.
Do Your Part for Pollination
Year-round, we partner with our friends over at PACE– that’s Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education – to do our part for pollinators. Part of every purchase of our raw & unfiltered local honey goes to PACE and supports their mission of restoring habitats for our little heroes.
PACE is organized by the newly reopened Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado. If you’d like to see 7000+ pollinators of the non-buzzing variety, pay them a visit. Right now, they’re in dire need of support, having lost more than $2 million in revenue due to COVID-19. Making a donation right now will help them conserve our precious pollinators – and our planet – for decades to come.
Honey adds the perfect amount of sweetness to your favorite recipe. It can be a sugar replacement for dessert or a new creative spin on a classic recipe. With so many delicious dishes out there, we want to see your favorite one to make.
That’s why we’re hosting our Baking Challenge from 5/12 – 5/31! We’ll be picking 5 winners who use our honey in creative ways to receive a basket of honey, a tumbler, seed packets, honey packets AND a recipe feature on our blog.
It’s easy to enter.
You can share your favorite recipe on Facebook or Instagram by following the steps below.
- Simply upload a photo of your Local Hive™ inspired dish
- Include the recipe in the caption of your post
- Tag @LocalHiveHoney and use #LocalHiveBakers in the caption
- Join the “Local Hive™ Bakers” group on our Facebook page
- Upload a photo of your Local Hive™ inspired dish to the group
- Include the recipe in the caption of your post
After you enter, take some time to look around at the ways other bakers are using honey. If anyone from your hive would like to join, send them these instructions. We have an amazing community and we’re excited to be inspired by all the kitchen creativity.
Good luck and go have some honey fun!
As every part of the country is shaken by the COVID-19 crisis, we’re reminded why we do what we do: to provide for people. The best thing we can do right now is make sure people have the food they need. So, we will provide our raw & unfiltered local honey and work to keep it on shelves nationwide.
We will provide for our beekeepers, suppliers, retailers and customers while ensuring the safety of our employees and their families. Right now, our incredible employees are working tirelessly to fulfill orders. They know that they are bringing a much-needed bit of sweetness in these tough times. We will provide for them, because they provide so much for us.
Now more than ever, we need to help each other. Every bottle of Local Hive supports American beekeepers, who in turn support farmers, grocery stores, communities – all of us. By providing for each other, we will all get through this together.
With that in mind, we are taking great care to ensure the safety of our employees and customers:
- Our bottling facility is SQF Edition 8.0 Certified – just like always. This is the highest level of certification for food safety & cleanliness, and how we make sure our honey always stays pure and safe for everyone.
- We’ve asked all employees to stay home if they’re sick, showing symptoms or if they’ve come in close contact with anyone who is sick. All employees who stay home will continue to get paid and will not be docked for sick time.
- All of our employees are able to bring their children to work so they don’t have to worry about childcare. We’ve provided a safe, hygienic room for children to hang out in, with plenty of games, movies, books and toys.
- We are retraining employees on all recommended procedures to avoid contamination and following our food safety programs already in place. Employees have been instructed to remain six feet apart, regularly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching their face.
- We are sanitizing shared spaces multiple times every day and checking for good air flow in and out. All employees who work on the production floor are required to put on a new pair of gloves and face mask before they step onto the floor.
- We’re holding company-wide meetings every morning to provide daily updates on COVID-19.
Prepare your taste buds for the sweetest gift guide you’ll see all season. We’ve compiled our favorite honey-related gifts and ideas so you can easily check off every sweet tooth on your list.
For a honey aficionado such as yourself, try a cute, glass honey dispenser. Since honey never expires, it’s the perfect food to keep in a handy decorative container. This honeycomb-patterned jar has an airtight seal, so your giftee’s honey will stay fresh well beyond next year’s holiday season.
If you’re looking for kitchenware with more of a classic ceramic look, you could try gifting a honey pot. This hand-painted, beehive-shaped version will look right at home on any cozy countertop.
If you have family across the country, consider getting each family member a jar of local honey from their neck of the woods. We’ve literally got options from coast to coast and corner to corner. And for friends who’ve moved, a jar of local honey from back home can be a sweet, thoughtful present. Check out our online shop, where you can see all of our local varietals in a range of sizes and easily ship them nationwide.
For the sophisticated foodies, hosts and hostesses on your list, you can send a dinner-party ready ensemble by pairing a jar of local raw & unfiltered honey with complementary foods:
– Olive oil and jam (Pairs nicely with our dark varietals.)
– Brie cheese (Contrast savory flavors with one of our citrus varietals.)
– Figs and nuts (Elevate their sweetness with a complex varietal.)
In the past, we’ve blogged about how honey can protect and exfoliate your skin. Well now, there are beauty companies making products with honey baked right in, like this pack of honey soap or the many inventive honey skincare products out there. Your age-defying great-aunt or sunscreen-slathering bestie will definitely appreciate a faceful of raw honey for their skincare routine.
You could also check out beeswax candles, which technically don’t have honey in them, but have a natural faintly sweet smell and are 100% made by bees. They make a great gift that says just a little more than a typical candle.
Finally, for those always-chic, always-hard-to-shop-for fashionistas, there’s a whole range of bee handbags out there. Seriously, bee fashion is having a moment in every style from vintage activist chic to the reimagined Gucci Queen Margaret bag.
No matter who you’re shopping for, you’ve got plenty of sweet options – all thanks to the hardworking local bees and beekeepers around the country.
National Honey Month is kind of a big deal for honeyheads like us. It’s an entire month dedicated to the stuff we geek out about 24/7, when even Uncle Sam – or, more specifically, the USDA – helps spread the word about the hundreds of varietals of local honey made right here in the USA. All through September, you can expect, well, more of the same from Local Hive: keen insight into nature’s sweetest gift.
September was deemed National Honey Month in 1989 by the National Honey Board and US Department of Agriculture. The choice of September for National Honey Month was no accident: it’s the biggest honey harvesting month of the year in the United States. September is also a bustling time of year for bees. As the temperature drops below 60 degrees – which, in the South, can be well after September – bees secure their hives, stockpile honey and get ready to bundle up for the long winter ahead.
Despite its name, National Honey Month is about much more than just honey. It’s a critical time of year for pollinator awareness, which is no doubt why the US Department of Agriculture declared it a national month. Pollination by honey bee colonies adds at least $15 billion to the value of US agriculture every year, thanks to increased yields and harvests of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
If you’ve heard the call of the bees and want to get involved during National Honey Month, here are a few simple ways:
- Buy raw & unfiltered local honey from local beekeepers here in the US
- Plant wildflowers, which provide pollen that honey bees use to make honey
- Donate to PACE: Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education. They’re a global initiative led by Butterfly Pavilion to promote habitat and species conservation. A portion of proceeds from each bottle of Local Hive also goes toward the support of PACE.
During National Honey Month, we’ll be celebrating all things local honey over on our Facebook page. Every Friday, starting today, we’ll select five winners to receive a box filled with three Local Hive honeys from the regions of their choosing. Just “like” each Friday’s post, comment with the regions you’d love to try, and maybe throw a “#NationalHoneyMonth” in there too for good measure. Good luck and happy National Honey Month!
This week marks one of the biggest events of the year for us honey geeks: Pollinator Awareness Week. We’re doing everything we can to get the word out about our itty, bitty buzzing buddies around the world. In case you haven’t heard, not only do pollinators magically make our favorite sweet stuff out of just about any kind of pollen they can find, they’re also a key part of plant reproduction, supporting life all the way up the food chain.
Partners in Pollination
Year-round, we partner with our friends over at PACE– that’s Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education – to help raise awareness of just how crucial pollinators are to our food supply and ecosystem. With every purchase of our raw and unfiltered local honey, a portion of proceeds go to PACE and their mission of restoring habitats for our little heroes.
If you really want to learn about pollination, there’s no better way than getting down and dirty: planting pollinator-friendly wildflowers. To encourage more of this ecological activism, we’ve created specialized wildflower seed packets that can bloom just about anywhere in the US. Soon, we’ll be passing them out around the country and growing homes for local pollinators from coast to coast.
To demonstrate just how important and complex pollination is, we’ve created a new page on our site that dives deep on seeds, bees and everything in between: Seeds for Bees.
Though we definitely have a favorite pollinator – who doesn’t? – there are more out there than you might expect. For starters, there are the thousands of other species of bees, but plenty of other insects and animals pitch in to pollinate as well: wasps, ants, flies, moths, beetles, bats, birds, rodents, lizards, monkeys and even humans all play a part.
So what’s the big deal? Why do pollinators need an awareness week? A big reason is biodiversity. If pollinators’ numbers dwindle, or they become too genetically similar, they can become more at risk for communicable diseases that wipe out entire populations. We need to encourage pollinators of all kinds, all over the world to prevent this. Another is our food security: pollinators help humans produce many of our favorite crops, including potatoes, onions, cotton and avocados. That’s why many local beekeepers truck their bees around the country from farm to farm: a well-organized hive with thousands of professional pollinators helps increase crop yields and keeps farmers in business.
So, now that you’re aware of pollinators and all they do, what’s next? A few simple steps: spread the word, plant a pollinator garden, eat local honey and save the bees!
We’re proud to announce our new partnership with Lazy Dog Restaurants. Together, we’re bringing our distinctly local honey flavors to new menu items at Lazy Dog locations around the US during this spring and early summer.
Lazy Dog restaurants can be found in California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Illinois and Georgia, and each of location features our local, raw & unfiltered honey in two seasonal menu items.
The collaboration was a match made in honey heaven. Much like us, Lazy Dog is very selective about where and how they source ingredients.
We’re committed to protecting pollinators, promoting local beekeepers and maintaining pure, raw & unfiltered honey from hive to home. Meanwhile, Lazy Dog only sources ingredients from farmers they love and respect, ensuring that each ingredient they use is carefully picked and prepared. Coming together with another principled company just makes sense – and makes for two pretty sweet recipes.
Almond Butter French Toast (weekend brunch)
Features Local Hive Honey, almond butter, cream cheese, candied almonds, bee pollen, fresh berries and whipped cream.
Vanilla Bean Custard (dessert)
Features fresh vanilla bean cream, a Local Hive Honey topping, candied almonds, bee pollen and fresh berries.
The fine folks at Lazy Dog have told us that so far, the Almond Butter French Toast and Vanilla Bean Custard have been a huge hit. But they’re on the seasonal menu, so make sure and give them a try before they buzz off.