May 25, 2021 4 min read
In our book, there is only one honey worthy of consumption - raw, local, unprocessed, unpasteurized honey. It’s not what you’ll find at most big box stores or your nearest grocer, but that is quickly shifting as more people recognize the importance of honey quality. Let’s dive into it, shall we?
Most ubiquitous, conventional honey is heated, highly processed, sourced from a variety of floral sources, and homogenized to create the standard translucent, caramel colored liquid honey found in honey bears and plastic squeeze bottles. Convenient? perhaps. The problem? When honey is heated above hive temperature (about 99 degrees F) it begins to lose its beneficial properties as enzymes are altered (proteins denature - mutate or break down - in the presence of extreme heat). This means all the goodness of honey in its pure and original state are lost through the processing which includes heat, filtration, and homogenization.
In addition to the alteration of honey, commercial and large scale conventional honey producers often transport their hives from pollination contract to pollination contract, potentially mixing their bees with colonies from other locations. This increases the chance of disease and pest contamination, let alone the taxing nature of such travel on honeybees. The contracts for such pollination needs are often monocultures that are may be treated with pesticides before or during nectar collection, resulting in a strain on the colony and the contamination of honey with said pesticides. Large scale producers are also likely to treat their bees with antibiotics year-round and supplement their diet during transport with sugar substitutes. The cumulative effect of such practices not only degrades the quality and medicinal benefits of the honey being produced, but it severely compromises honeybee health, as bees travel hundreds or thousands of miles at times. It is important to note that while there are adverse implications for this mode of production, it is currently the backbone of our agricultural system and enables food production on an international scale. (We’ll be highlighting the importance of our pollinators in a separate blog post). While we can’t change the system as a whole, we do believe we can take steps in the right direction by modeling an alternative.
At Big Island Moonbow Farms, this just won’t do, given our priority, first and foremost, of honeybee health. So, we do things a bit differently.
We manage our hives organically without the use of chemicals or chemical pesticides on certified organic lands. Our beekeeper and co-founder is also highly selective of hive and colony placement, ensuring bees are as far away as possible from non organic lands or agricultural plots that do use chemical pesticides for pest and weed management.
We also don't utilize antibiotics in our operation. Instead, we’re able to keep our bee's immune systems strong by providing a healthy environment that contains an abundance of nectar sources, and use organic treatments when needed to mitigate pest concerns. Our carefully considered and unique environment creates a healthy gut microbiome in the honey bees. This promotes the growth of beneficial probiotics which are captured in Wai Meli honey.