• I love honey. The sweet floral taste of the local wildflower honey. The viscous texture. The amber color. It is like liquid gold. The ever-popular Manuka honey can cost around the same amount per ounce. Almost. I’m drinking it in tea at my desk as I write now. Delicious. Soothing. The adult version of warm milk before bed. But where does all this honey flow from? At the supermarket, I noticed the honey is shipped from China, Brasil, Mexico and other far-away places. I wanted local honey. There it was, at my local farmers market and I can’t believe it took me this long to realize what a treasure it is to eat local honey. My kids had fun tasting the different nuances depending upon which flowers the bees fed upon. Now curious, I wanted to see the hives, taste the freshest honey possible. How different could local honey right from the hive, taste?

    In my quest for fresh honey, I learned a lot about a movement of urban beekeeping going on now. A movement to save the honeybees believing that the city is the last refuge of the honeybee. Why? Home gardens are generally free of pesticides and that is where most of these honeybees feed from the local flowers and plants. I found an opportunity to go to a local beekeeper’s house with a group of friends and their children. We brought our glass jars and filled them from a vat of honey fresh from the man-made hives in his backyard. The third-generation hobbyist beekeeper showed us how to smoke the hives. I never realized how easy beekeeping could be – the initial cost is in setting up the hives and getting the appropriate attire. The beekeeper would tap the hives every 6-8 weeks. Everything else is just letting the bees, be.

    There are many other uses for honey besides stirring it into a cup of tea. As a sore throat soother, you can eat a teaspoon of it and let it stick to and soothe your scratchy throat. You can rub a bit on a small wound or minor burn due to its antimicrobial properties. Although not proven, allergy sufferers seem to think that eating raw local pollen or honey helps alleviate their allergies. You can use it as a natural way to preserve fruit in a jar (which is rumored to be the method of preservation in biblical times).

    I also learned that the average person can help the honeybee population thrive. Provide a fresh water source on your property for the bees to drink and by planting an organic garden in your yard, patio or rooftop. Yes, one of many more reasons to encourage us to plant organic gardens. Or if you or someone you know has a beehive in their wall, tree, barbeque or some other unusual place, don’t call exterminators. Instead, call a local beekeeper and they will likely know of a local community bee yard (yes, such a thing exists) or someone who rescues beehives. Some of them will even remove it for free. So, go plant something bees can feed on, in your yard or on your patio, simply for the love of Honey!