Honey for the good of bees

During our drive home from Florida this week, we took a short detour to walk around the historic section of Savannah, Georgia, where we came across a honey boutique. Yes, that’s right: a whole store, called Savannah Bee Company, devoted to gourmet honeys, where you can do a tasting (Orange Blossom–delish!) and buy lip balms and honey spoons and, of course, honey. Slightly silly, but fun: Check out the honeycomb-shaped decorations in the place’s front door, on their website.

I sprang for two small jars: Tupelo and Acacia.

Honey is more than just another item for foodies to fetishize. It’s a connection to the other, and vastly more important, function that bees perform, namely pollinating crops. Tasting the variation in honeys that come from the pollen of different trees and plants, you are reminded that these insects really are intimately connected to the world of growing food. And, as has been well documented, bees are in trouble: maybe because of pesticides, or cell phone signals, or some other pervasive environmental disaster that we haven’t thought of yet.

Locally, honey is one of the many foods that are easily available from local growers. We always buy Nelson County-made Hungry Hill at the farmers’ market or local groceries, and there is at least one other local producer, Howard’s Blue Ribbon Honey, which I’ve never tried. It’s lovely to know that the sweet stuff we’re drizzling onto our biscuits is an expression of our terroir just as much as any Viognier or chevre.

And honey is yet another product that can be part of the local food economy as well as something that a few folks raise for themselves. (I remember one woman whose home I visited for an ABODE story several years ago, who had not only a geodesic greenhouse but several beehives in her yard.) If foodie interest in honey does anything to help save the bees, in some small way, it will not be silly at all.

Anyone keeping bees at home, or thinking about it? Anyone have another favorite local honey to recommend?

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