Edible Sarasota: Close To The Hive

Hey, you know how I like to talk about honey like all the goddamn time?  Well, here’s a lengthy article I did for Edible Sarasota‘s last issue which delves into CCD and the importance of sustaining our honeybee population.  It also explains why Monsanto is the devil, just in case I haven’t made that clear in previous blogs.  :)






Sure, it says “honey” on the label, but there’s a good chance that if you got your squeeze bear from the grocery store the only thing you’re adding to your morning tea is high-fructose corn syrup. Now would be a good time to purchase the Jaws theme song from iTunes and play it on full blast, because what’s currently going on with honeybees is scarier than an entire sea of savage sharks.

Before we discuss Colony Collapse Disorder and why that might be the most frightening thing to affect our planet, or how your honey bear may just be corn syrup, let’s talk about why we should even care about an insect that most of us try to kill if it flies within three feet of our face.

Pretty much, it goes like this: Honeybees are responsible for life on this planet. Added bonus, their venom and honey act as miracle cure-alls for everything from arthritis to allergies and, if you’ve been watching the news lately, possibly even HIV. Yeah, honey can do it all. Believe it. But wait, back to that whole “responsible for life” thing … Isn’t oxygen fairly important? Or trees? Or food? Yes. Yes and yes. But, without the little, unassuming honeybee, none of it—not the air, not the trees, not the food—would exist. Why? Well, it stems back to a little thing we all learned in middle school: pollination.

Without honeybees pollinating the plants, eventually the plants would cease to exist, thus destroying the entire ecosystem. Without plants photosynthesis would cease, meaning our oxygen would be a whole lot less oxygen-y, animals would lose their vegetation supply, we would lose those animals, everything would go to hell in a handbasket. Don’t despair, there’s a happy ending coming up.

OK, so why are we worried about the honeybee and, seriously, what about the corn syrup?

Without going into a collegiate-level dissertation, and without talking so much trash about Monsanto, the FDA and the EPA that they come to my home in the night, essentially the problem stems from Colony Collapse Disorder which is a phenomenon in which worker bees abruptly disappear. There are conflicting theories on why CCD is happening, ranging from the change in farming practices from small family-owned companies to huge mass-production retailers, to the abundance of genetically modified crops, to the scientists creating mutant bees with a limited gene pool, to the suspicion that the FDA, EPA, Monsanto and the pharmaceutical companies are all in cahoots, as well as the prevalence of mites, strange weather patterns and pesticides.

Let’s discuss a couple. Each day new information comes forth indicating that genetically modified crops are, indeed, hurting us and our planet. Research shows bees trying to pull nectar from modified crops become disoriented and appear to be almost drunk. Not the good, tipsy,‘I’m-having-a-great-time-drinking-champagne-at-my-friend’s-wedding’ type of drunk, more the ‘oh-wow-I’m-going-to-jail-for-the-rest-of-my-life’ type of drunk. Why exactly this is happening is still somewhat a mystery, but when plants defy nature, so do the bees.

Also, corn syrup. Finally. Many mass producers are spraying a corn syrup solution into their beehives, tricking the bees into drinking that ‘nectar’ instead of going into nature to retrieve it from the plants. This is essentially like feeding your employees fast food all day every day for their entire lives. On top of that, much of the typical honey found lining regular grocery stores is really a modified corn syrup sent over from China in huge metal drums that is bottled into jars and labeled as honey. Why? Because it’s cheaper, of course, and, well, simply because they can.

There is oh so very much information being offered on this topic, and it is truly worth researching, not just to be scared straight but to be scared into hopefulness. Here’s all you really need to know: There is a solution. A really easy solution. And it’s in your backyard. OK, maybe not your backyard, but definitely in your town. And the cost? Under $15, tops So, what’s the solution? Buy local, unpasteurized, raw, unfiltered, unheated honey.

Whoa, that’s a lot of words for my honey, no? No. In fact, that’s as simple as it gets. That’s just the beekeepers taking the honey from the hives and bottling it. Honey, in its purest form, is one of the most magical, potent cure-alls on this planet. Hopefully, we will do a future article spotlighting the plethora of benefits that honey has to offer. But, for now, just rest assured that pure, beautiful, syrupy, golden, delicious, local honey is your best friend in the whole world. Even better than the girl you’ve known since you were 5 who was your maid of honor. Yeah, she’s not going to help with your arthritis, OK? Honey will.

Finding local suppliers of honey is easy. Check your farmers’ markets and local retailers that offer local, artisanal goods. And do your research. With the internet offered on your cell phone, finding local, inexpensive honey you can feel good feeding to yourself and your family is easier than sneezing—something you’re bound to do come allergy season if you aren’t stocked up on the sweet, local goodness.