What is Local, Raw honey?
Raw honey is honey that is unheated, unprocessed, and unfiltered. The frames of honeycomb are removed from the hive, capped with a heated knife, and spun in a centrifuge which extracts the honey. Honey that has passed through a screen to remove the large particles of honeycomb is considered “unfiltered” if the screen is large enough to allow all particles, including the pollen, through. Unfortunately many of the centrally-distributed grocer store honeys are heated and clarified, destroying the natural and beneficial properties of the honey.
Local beekeepers can provide unheated and unfiltered honey that retains the unique pollen flavors and properties to your area. There are many more varieties to choose from as well. From mesquite, desert flower, and orange blossom in Arizona, to Chamisa Honey in New Mexico and Clover Honey in Colorado. You can become a honey connoisseur and try all of the different natural varieties. Best of all, honey stores indefinitely in your pantry.
I had a fantastic experience helping a local beekeeper in Albuquerque, NM retrieve honey from his hives. This is a great volunteer opportunity and learning experience – check with your local beekeepers to see if they need help. It’s a great opportunity. I learned how to smoke the bees to make them retreat into the hive, retrieve the frames of honey, cap the tops with a heated knife, and spin them in a centrifuge to extract the honey from the honeycomb. The beekeeper even gave me a free jar when we finished!
Where can you find raw, local honey?
Many places! In the last few years grocery stores have caught on to the local-sourced honey demands of customers. But if you can’t find raw honey in your grocery store, check your local Craigslist listings, marketplaces, health food events, and farms. You may have to travel outside of the city limits a bit.
I have found beekeeper honey sale listing on Craigslist, signs on the side of the road, Farms such as Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek, AZ, herb shops, and my local health food stores.
Real honey should be thicker, often can be darker (depending on the type), and should containing pollen from the local flowers and plants. It should also crystalize when left over time. Eating raw honey that is local and contains the pollen of local plants provides you with the local pollen nutrients, health benefits, and is said to help people with allergies when used consistently.
Raw honey has many natural benefits including promoting good digestion, antiviral/antibacterial properties, antibiotic properties, antioxidants, skin treatment, immune system, and allergies!
Keep plenty of jars in your kitchen to substitute sugar in your baking and drink mixes. Since it never goes bad, you can stock up and store it indefinitely.
The history of honey can be traced back to at least 8,000 years ago, through rock paintings found in caves! In Ancient Egypt, honey was used not only for sweetening dishes, but as an embalming for the dead. It was a prized ingredient in ancient Rome, China, and Mesoamerica. The Bible refers to honey in many passages throughout Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, and Matthew. Proverbs 16:24 compares pleasant words with honey: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
So now you know the difference when you purchase honey locally. Honey is truly a substance of value, especially when we can find it right from the source. Find the beekeepers in your own community and let us know what kinds of honey they offer!