Guest Blogger: Leah Latshaw of Latshaw Apiaries

q and a with your local beekeeper

Why doesn’t all honey look the same?

The appearance of honey is quite variable. It can be almost water white to a dark amber color. The nectar collected from flowers blooming in the area determines the color of the honey. Here in central Ohio it is not common to have honey from one single nectar source. (Of course there are exceptions such as heavy locust bloom or in areas of dense plantings.) Instead, “wildflower” honey tends to be most common. Wildflower honey comes from a variety of nectar sources including common sources such as dandelion, fruit trees, black locust (acacia), clover, alfalfa, and many others. Because we extract honey at different times during the beekeeping season, every crop of honey is different in color and taste. It makes it exciting to see what the honey will look and taste like each time!

What is the difference between strained honey and raw honey?

Our liquid honey – labeled as “pure” honey – has been gently warmed and strained. This serves to remove any debris or wax pieces from the honey. It also helps to keep the honey liquid longer. This straining however does not remove the microscopic pollen pieces that are naturally present in pure honey. While this pure honey will stay liquid longer, all honey eventually crystallizes. The crystallization is a natural process and simply a different form of honey – kind of like water and ice. Crystallized honey can easily be liquefied by warming it gently, preferably in a pan of warm water. Never boil honey as this changes color, taste, and nutritional value.

There is actually no industry-agreed upon definition for “raw” honey so it is always best to ask your beekeeper. At Latshaw Apiaries we label honey as raw if it has not been heated or filtered. This raw honey generally crystallizes very quickly. It can be softened or liquefied if heated gently. Raw honey will sometimes have visible specks of other materials as well. These can be small pieces of wax, propolis, or even pollen that add to the appeal of the “raw” honey to some users. Local raw honey is often recommended for allergy sufferers.

Interesting honey facts:

Researchers at Texas A&M University are leaders in the field of melissopalynology (the study of pollen in honey). Their research has shown 75% of honey available in grocery stores does not contain pollen.

Honey has antimicrobial properties which make it effective as a dressing for wounds. It has also been found to be successful at relieving sore throats.

Habitat loss, insecticides, diseases, and mites are having a significant impact on the health of honey bees. In recent years some areas of Ohio have reported losing upwards of 80-90% of their honey bee colonies after winter.

Latshaw Apiaries is family operated by Joe, Leah, and Jacob Latshaw in Alexandria, Ohio. They work with their bees to make them healthy and strong, and conduct their own research to learn how to best tend bees in the central Ohio climate. Latshaw Apiaries focuses on the production and development of highly productive and well-adapted honey bees for beekeepers across the United States and strives to perfect and improve the instrumental insemination of queen honey bees through constant research and development. Dr. Joe Latshaw specializes in the design and production of instrumental insemination equipment used by researchers and beekeepers around the world. You can find the Latshaws at the Granville Farmers Market.