Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Buying Honey

We were on our way back from Bennington the other day, when I saw the sign in front of a small house, “Honey For Sale.”

“Stop!” I yelled, and we pulled into the driveway. We could see some hives in the backyard. Next to the sign stood a neat wooden cubby, with a cash box and a note explaining that purchases were based on the honor system. There were five-pound jars of honey, and lovely ocher-colored beeswax candles, and some plastic boxes full of honeycomb.

We bought two big jars and a pair of candles, and drove off with me feeling unaccountably happy. I suppose one reason was the serendipitous nature of the find: we weren't looking for honey, or candles, that particular day, yet there they were, in all their sudden glory. And the other reason is that we were doing something for the bees. Local honey is not always easy to find, nor are beeswax candles. Yet the best way to help keep colony collapse at bay is to patronize local bee keepers.

Local honey isn't cheap. That day we paid $3.20/lb. At Sam's, honey from the other end of the earth costs $1.92/lb. I was brought up to be a frugal shopper, to calculate price per pound, to buy the supermarket house brand whenever possible. So observing the “buy local” injunction is taking considerable readjustment on my part. It's a good thing I grow my own vegetables, because I don't think I could bring myself to pay the prices at the farmer's market.

But bees are a different matter. I've been gardening outdoors for three months now, and I've seen wasps and bumblebees galore, but not a single honeybee. The bees need help. Plus, they are charming and mysterious and produce, literally, sweetness and light. If you take all that into account, local honey is a bargain.

9 comments :

  1. oh yum. i, too, believe in splurging on wonderful local goods. local honey is supposed to help in suppressing allergies; did you know that? (i think you know everything.) and it's bound to taste better than Sam's Club honey.

    enjoy!

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  2. If it weren't for all the strawberries I've been eating, I would have put honey on buttered toast today at lunch...

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  3. Come to think of it, I have only seen a very few honeybees, myself. Hmmm.

    Congrats on the honey find. There was an elderly gentleman with a roadside veggie stand who sold his own honey. I bought from him, but always thought the honey had a weird taste to it, probably from the corn and soybean fields nearby. The stand is still there, but the honey is not. I'm guessing he's not able to keep up with beekeeping anymore.

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  4. I've heard that too, Laurie. I give it to my daughter pretty often to stave off allergic coughing. Which she does a lot.

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  5. Uh-oh, I have a large stash of Sam's honey--Sam being the Walton Sam, not a local beekeeper named Sam. It never occurred to me that buying local honey would help bees. Have they figured out what's causing their disappearance? Surely I can find some honey around here. I'll look.

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  6. Laurie and Bridgett, so local honey really is a bargain.

    Joya, I guess honey is like milk, which takes on different flavors depending on which grasses the animals graze.

    Susan, we used to buy Sam's honey too! As I understand it, colony collapse disease (which is mostly blamed for bees' troubles) is spread by industrial beekeepers who put their hives on big trucks and rent them out to industrial farmers all across the country.

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  7. Indigo, have you found a good source of honey around here?

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  8. Actually, the last honey I got was given to me by Deb, who has bees...you might check and see if she has a stash. There are so many beekeepers around here, and there are the farmer's markets, and at Xmas I was at a b&b in PA whose owners were beekeepers...I have some of that honey too. I don't actually eat it a lot, but when I do eat it, I wonder why I'm not eating it all the time.

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  9. Yes, I will ask Deb. Although with 10 lbs of the stuff in the pantry, it may be a while before we run out.

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