Over the weekend as I was doing some grocery shopping and as I wandered down the aisles I found myself staring at the shelves lined with honey. I normally try to get my honey from local beekeepers to ensure that is both local and unpasteurized but I had to look anyway. As I scoped out the honey I saw every kind imaginable from lavender, to manuka, to buckwheat. What struck me as most interesting however, is when my eyes strayed to ‘organic’ honey. I didn’t know organic honey was a possibility because I had always been told there was no such thing. How then, could a grocery store sell it to unsuspecting customers? For a significant price increase compared to the ‘non-organic’ honey I might add.
I did a little digging. Here’s the lowdown. Organic honey actually is not impossible. One might be able to claim their honey is organic if they keep their bees deep in the
wilderness where they are miles and acres away from any herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides. Bees fly up to three miles from their hives to forage off of the millions of flowers it takes to make a decent honey crop. Three miles equates to about 18,000 square acres—that’s a lot of acres to say you know for sure are 100% pesticide, free isn’t? Some beekeepers may be located in areas where there is an abundance of indigenous pants and there may be a lower chance of bees foraging of crops with pesticides or herbicides, but that is not to say they won’t forage on these things and there is really nothing a beekeeper can do to prevent them from doing so. Tru Bee honey of Williamson County area in Tennessee says if they were to produce organic honey they would have to convince 72 of surrounding farming neighbors not to use fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides on their farms! That puts things in perspective a little more. Think of foraging bees as free range bees. Ha! There is no telling where they will go and what they will feed on in the three mile radius. You can’t follow every bee that leaves the hive and watch what it is gathering nectar from or prevent it from foraging on a certain crop or plant. Can you honestly be confident that in the upwards of 100 jars of honey a colony can produce that not one of those thousands and thousands of worker bees has not somewhere along the way foraged from a crop with pesticides? Likewise, the wind can blow all sorts of things into an area even if you happen to be surrounded by 18,000 acres of organic crops.
This is just something to be skeptical of and consider when buying ‘organic’ honey. As for me, I won’t be buying honey with this label, but I will stick with the raw, unpasteurized stuff from my local beekeepers, but ultimately, the choice is yours.