Itching, coughing, sneezing, runny noses and aching sinuses-wouldn’t it be a relief for all seasonal allergy symptoms to be fought without having to take any pills? Would you believe that a remedy to these allergies is prepared daily by the constant work of the humble honeybee?
Nothing can ruin a day faster then an allergy attack. According to local beekeeper Chappie McChesney, consuming honey that is local is an effective and important way to fight allergies. He should know, he has been doing this for over 55 years!
Definition of Local Honey- Honeybees travel within a 3-5 mile radius from their hives to collect pollen and nectar. Buying honey from a beekeeper who lives near you will ensure that the honey contains the pollens in your area.
Bees mix pollen and nectar of whatever plants are blooming with enzymes that they secrete; those pollens become a major part of the honey that is created. Consumption of local honey containing those pollens will cause people with allergies to build up immunity to certain pollens over time.
Because different plants bloom in every season, pure, raw honey has very distinct flavors. Chappie says that locally the bees are working the blackberry now in this area and will soon be on the gall berry. Most people who are used to honey sold in the supermarket do not realize what real honey tastes like, said Chappie. Local honey can be found at farmers markets, natural food stores, and in the health food section of most grocery stores.
The honey will be marked with a label that should include the location of where it was produced so the customer can be sure they are getting the right product. Often labels will say ‘Local Honey’ but will not include where it was made, so consumers must be wary of the packaging.
Pure honey is taken directly form the hive, filtered to remove wax and bee parts, and bottled without adding or taking away from the natural flavors. Real honey crystallizes and can vary in color form clear to dark brown. Most people would reject honey that has crystallized, but all the customer must do is place the honey in warm water to bring it back to liquid form. Large manufacturers “heat” honey to kill yeasts in order to keep it from crystallizing so it looks pretty on the store shelf and add in extra water and sugar, giving it that smooth, amber color you see. This method destroys the nutrients and enzymes that honey naturally contains and serves only to attract the eye of the consumer and will not contain the same benefits of pure local honey.
Local honey might become a thing of the past if the honey bee keeps dropping in numbers. ABC News recently reported that the honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and that one third of American food depends on plants pollinated by honey bees and other insects. No one knows why bees are dying off but they do know that bees are prone to diseases and a parasite called, vampire mite which came from Asia. In the past year alone the UF Bee College has seen a 30 percent population decrease in their honeybees. Because few people truly understand the importance of these bees, they are written off as pests. Chappie is dedicated to teaching and training new beekeepers and making sure everyone understands the importance of the humble honey bee.
The best way to enjoy local honey is to get to know a local beekeeper. To find your local beekeeper just contact Apiary Inspections Department Head Dr. Gerry Hayes for a list of registered beekeepers in your area, or visit them online firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more join The Alachua County Beekeepers Club. The club meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month at Hitchcock’s Foodway in Alachua.
For more information visit www.alachua-beekeepers.ning.com or call 386-462-2637