True Source Local Garden Honey
My bees are spread out across gardens throughout the local community (Castlemaine and Chewton, Central Victoria, Australia) where they stay in one place and are hopefully not moved at all. This means that the honey I produce comes from the blossoms of plants and trees within a 7 kilometer radius of Castlemaine. This is compared to the vast majority of honey which is produced by bees that are kept in large numbers together and constantly trucked from place to place following flowering trees and plants. So even if you buy honey from a local honey producer, the actual honey itself was almost certainly produced in areas far away from where the honey producer is based.
Zero Food Miles
Many beekeepers regularly move their bees over vast distances – often thousands of kilometers – to find places with enough flowers and nectar to produce honey in commercial quantities. They then have to return to these sites regularly to service the bees. This results in each jar of honey produced in this way representing an enormous amount of embodied energy. In contrast, I only ever use my bicycle with a trailer to service my bees.
Mono-floral -vs- Poly-floral
Lots of the honey we buy in the shops is a particular variety – honey made from a particular plant and with a particular taste such as Leatherwood, Manuka, Yellowbox or Lavendar. And it’s lovely to have such strong specific tastes. But it’s not so great for the health of the bees, and often people too. And here’s why.
In nature bees collect a very wide variety of nectars, pollens and other forage. It is said that the average “wild” honey is made of at least 300 different plants. Bees, just like humans need this variation in their diet to stay healthy. The way most beekeepers are able to harvest varietal honeys is by forcing the bees to only forage from one particular plant by taking their bees to an area where that’s all there is. A bit like forcing people to only eat one kind of food.
A true source hyper local garden honey will not taste of a particular plant. Rather, like all artisan foods, the honey tastes of the region – the terroir.