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Beekeeping is Tough Business

The rise and fall of honey prices.

Honey

Ever ask yourself why the price of honey has so much variance. Well here are a few reasons why. To start I do not want to discount any honey producers that have a low price point in their honey. The truth is some businesses can just operate less than others. They do 100-1000X the production which allows them to sell their product cheaper. Also honey is geographic and seasonal resulting from whatever is around the bees when they gather. The types of plants say for instance clovers produce an abundance of nectar which is refined into honey.

But why does that farmers market jar cost so much more? Well here are a few of the nefarious practices used in the honey business.

Dumping

Years ago there were 10X as many professional beekeepers in the industry. Honey prices were high and honest businesses only purchased honey from reliable sources. International markets looking to drive down the number of beekeepers dumped millions of gallons of honey throughout the 80’s and 90’s on the US for less than the cost of production called economic dumping in hopes to drive down the honey business and affect cascading markets. It worked and honey prices never recovered. There have been regulations but tons of internationally dumped honey still makes it into the US each year.

Blended Honey

Most of the honey you have on the shelf has a similar taste. Some is because clover honey is pretty similar and a lot is made. But there is also a darker side to it. Corn syrup and rice syrup retail for about 15 cents a pound. Unscrupulous farmers feed this to their bees and it can still be called honey since the bees technically gather it. Some companies even blend it after the fact and still sell it as honey.

Rice, Corn

Single source honey is pretty common on most mass produced reputable farms. Bees are parked on crop fields notorious for producing honey and well there this is why again most of the honey tastes the same. It is not an ethical issue it is just how it is produced. More flowers = more honey and when those plants are notorious honey producer crops I would put my bees there too. The downside is you miss out of the unique nectars and pollen that are so good for allergies. Not that they don’t contain the variable pollen it is typically not the pollen that most are allergic too.

Crystalized Honey

Someone said honey has to be crystalized to be real – Well this is not true Glucose to fructose level in honey and weather crystal (honey crystalizes) seeds (yes I said seeds) exist in the honey or storage tank. All plants that produce nectar have varying degrees of each. I have found in my experience there really isn’t much coronation to the color as I have some pitch black honey that is still liquid after 10 years and some hard as a rock almost clear honey. The science behind it is quite simple. The higher the fructose the less likely it will crystalize. Honey without crystal seeds also takes longer to crystalize. These seeds start the growth of crystals and they grow until the entire jar is well solid.

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