Honeybees. No matter whether you love ’em or hate ’em, they are an endangered species these days. Under fire from a host of environmental hazards, bees have become the darling of local farmers and backyard gardeners eager to offer a few much-needed alternatives to imported, and potentially un-pure, honey and other sweeteners.
A growing community of beekeepers and producers of honey products gather each year at the Oregon Honey Festival to offer product tastings and to educate the public about the importance of buying local or regionally harvested honey, or at the very least, getting it from small batch U.S. honey producers.
Here’s a few bee facts:
- Bees travel as much as 3 miles in their search for pollen.
- Honey contains an antioxidant that improves brain function.
- It takes the entire life of 12 bees to produce one teaspoon of honey!
- The buzz from bees is created by their wings, which stroke 200 times per second.
- Pollination by honeybees is vital for food production.
Now that’s something to admire. Here are a few standouts from past festivals. For honey producers near you, go here to search by state. It’s not a complete list, so check for local honey at your farmers market or farmstand.
Noah’s Bees, located in Southern Oregon, is at the forefront of honey infusions. Their Spun Vanilla, with remnants of vanilla seeds blended throughout, gives a smooth, refined flavor and scent. This would be ideal for holiday baking, your favorite chai tea or coffee, or a simple Honey Vinaigrette to drizzle over winter fruit salads. Check their Facebook page for new holiday inspired gift sets.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that bees can make honey from pine trees. Located in Keno, Oregon, Davitt Apiaries is surrounded not by agricultural land, but by acres of pine forests. Their “free range” bees forage on the sap produced by aphids in the pine trees and the resulting Ponderosa Pine Honey, with its characteristic pin-ey flavor of varying strength, is actually favored as a sweetener by some coffee lovers.
For a unique and sustainable gastronomic pleasure, a very decadent solar-powered Grilled Cheese Sandwich can be had at Rogue Creamery’s Central Point location. Not your average GCS, it oozes with their Sharp Cheddar, Rogue Blue, and honey encased in Sourdough Bread. Several years ago the Creamery took the next step in sustainability with the addition of honeybees to their Grants Pass dairy farm.
Owner David Gremmels is out to save the bees, too. With plantings of wildflowers, oregano and buckwheat on the farm, the bees are happy their travel time is greatly reduced. Happy cows, happy bees….happy customers.