Sweet Talk: Local Honey

Let’s have some sweet talk…about local honey!  Every season, you may notice our beautiful endcap highlighting all of our local honey vendors. Even year round, our local honey selection is phenomenal. We work hard to support local honey producers, and we are committed to sharing information about each vendor with customers. We even have one staff member who is dedicated to working with local honey producers to make sure we’re offering high quality honey in a variety of sizes in addition to in what we offer in bulk.

Sometimes honey producers will source honey from other hives to supplement the honey they produce onsite, or they will source all of the honey they bottle from hives owned by other beekeepers. But we’ve done your homework for you! Check out the table below to learn more about our local honey set.

Honey Vendor

Location

Number of Hives

Honey Source

Varieties

Northwoods Apiaries

Franklin, Grand Isle, and Orleans counties

800-1,200 hives

Own hives; buckwheat honey is from NY; Hawaiian honey from HI

Raw liquid and creamed honey; knotweed honey; buckwheat honey; organic Hawaiian Ohia Lehua honey

Champlain Valley Apiaries

Champlain Valley from Whiting to Highgate

625

VT, SD, & Canada (Calgary & Ontario)

Liquid honey (wildflower blend of VT and Canadian honey); crystallized raw honey (wildflower, clover, and canola blend of VT, SD, & Canadian honey)

Bud Shriner

Charlotte, VT

6 hives

Own hives; northern VT

Minimally heated and filtered crystallized honey.

Harding Apiaries

Barre, VT

19 hives

Own hives

Liquid unfiltered honey, comb honey

Weeping Pine Apiaries

Williamstown, VT

20-30 hives

Own hives

Liquid and creamed honey; blend of spring, summer, fall crops

Ariel’s Honey Infusions

Huntington, VT

200 hives

New Haven, VT

Raw honey infusions; changes seasonally (clover, wildflower, basswood, alfalfa, goldenrod, purple vetch, birdsfoot trefoil)

BTV Honey

Burlington and Williston, VT

30 hives

Own hives

Liquid honey: variety of nectar sources, but especially clover and basswood

Black Walnut Apiary

Westford, VT

7-10 hives

Own hives

Liquid honey (basswood in early season, wildflower in later season). 

Bobbinshop Honey

Chelsea, VT

4 hives

Own hives

Liquid, unheated honey; harvest and bottle 3 times per year; changes seasonally (maple and apple trees, white clover, wildflower).

Green Mountain Bee Farm

Fairfax, VT

20 hives

Own hives

Liquid wildflower honey

Lemon Fair Honeyworks

Cornwall, VT

160 hives

Own hives

Summer Harvest (May-July): locust, basswood, and clover.

Fall Harvest (Aug-Sept): wildflower

Heavenly Honey Apiary

Monkton, VT

40-50 hives

Own hives

Liquid unfiltered honey; as supply allows: bee pollen, propolis, beeswax

Have you ever wondered about varietals of honey? The color, flavor, and aroma of a particular variety of honey may differ depending on the pollen and nectar that was collected by the bees. Colors may vary from almost translucent to dark brown, flavor can vary from very mild to very bold, and the aroma may be very floral. These attributes all depend on the type of plant it is, the weather, the season, and the region.  While many honeys may be a mix of pollen from different types of plants, sometimes beekeepers will locate their hives in certain locations to ensure the honey is produced mostly from one type of plant (like buckwheat honey, for example).

Honey tip: have you ever noticed your honey crystallizing and wondering what was wrong with it?  The answer is: nothing!  It is still perfectly good to eat as is.  Honey is a super-saturated solution of glucose and fructose. Eventually, some of the sugars come out of solution naturally (this even occurs in the hive sometimes).  Some varieties of honey and honey with pollen in it are more likely to crystallize, and the temperature of your cupboards plays a role too.  If your honey has crystallized and you want to make it liquid again, simply heat a bowl of water and put the jar of honey in the water to warm up.

Black Walnut Apiaries

One of our many honey producers: Black Walnut Apiary

Many of our local vendors are members of the Vermont Beekeepers Association, which was founded in 1886. The Association represents both hobbyists and commercial beekeepers, and in total, their members have about 9,000 hives and produce about 700,000 pounds of honey per year!  The Association has established “Best Management Practices” for beekeepers to ensure bees are properly cared for, to limit conflicts with neighbors, and to keep everyone safe.  Some of the practices include considerations for hive placement (how far from property lines, etc), maintaining only gentle hives, employing good swarm control techniques, and using IPM (Integrated Pest Management) to identify and treat various hive diseases, mites, and other abnormalities. 

The Association not only represents beekeepers statewide, but they also act as an education hub where beekeepers can learn from each other and the public can learn more about bees and honey.  For example, do you know the difference between bees, hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets?

You may have heard a lot of news in the past few years about the state of the honeybee population and something called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  CCD is when a majority of worker bees in a hive disappear, leaving the queen behind with plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the queen and remaining immature bees.  According to the USDA, the amount of total annual losses of hives nationally for 2014-2015 (the most recent survey year) was 42.1%, which is up 7.9% from the year before.

Scientists are still studying CCD to try to find a cause.  They suspect the cause may lie in 4 general categories: pathogens, parasites (such as mites), management stressors (e.g. transportation of bees for pollination services), and environmental stressors (pesticides, lack of pollen diversity, contaminated water, etc).  While there is still some questions regarding the role of neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide, in causing CCD, advocacy groups are calling on politicians to ban or limit the use of neonicotinoids in an effort to save bees.  In June 2014, President Obama created a taskforce to develop strategies to promote the health of honey bees and pollinators. 

What can you do to support bees?  You can support local beekeepers, who work hard to ensure the health of their bees and bee habitat.  You can also create your own pollinator-friendly habitat by planting flowers and plants that attract pollinators and avoid using chemical pesticides or herbicides.  Lastly, you can create nesting spaces for wild bees using rocks, logs, and other plant materials.