What is Local Honey?

"Local honey" is all the rage right now. As well it should be.

As farmer's markets and co-ops are becoming more and more popular the demand for pure, raw, natural honey is increasing. As citizens become more food conscious, the farm to table mentality is driving more consumers to question where their food comes from and how it got to their kitchen. Local honey, which has a particular reputation for providing health benefits is highly sought after. In fact, the most common questions we receive are "Where does your honey come from?" and "Is your honey local?" Our approach is to be honest about where our honey is harvested from and we let people decide for themselves if that meets their definition of local. So, it is important to ask yourself" What is local honey?

You would think that such a simple question would have a simple answer. But unfortunately it's not as easy as that. The reason is that every person might have their own way of defining "local." One person might only consider honey gathered from blossoms in their back yard to be truly "local" while another person might be happy referring to honey gathered from anywhere in their home state to be "local." And neither would necessarily be right or wrong. It simply depends on what is important to that person. There is no set standard for defining local honey. I've spoken with some people who insisted honey was only "local" if it was sold within five miles from where it was harvested. And I've spoken with others who considered a 100 mile radius to be "local." My recommendation is to determine what is important for you and your family, set your own geographic standards and then do a little research into the honey you are considering buying to see if it matches your standards.

You might ask yourself why local honey is important in the first place. Aside from supporting your friendly neighborhood beekeeper there are many who maintain that honey gathered from local nectar sources can be beneficial in treating allergies. It is believed by many that honey can work like a vaccination against local allergens. The thought is that eating local honey every day prior to the flowering season can fight seasonal allergies and inoculate one against the harmful effects of allergies. Living in Georgia, where pollen counts routinely hit apocalyptic levels during the spring I can appreciate why so many seek relief. If this is what is important for you when considering honey then what is really important is that the honey contain trace amounts of pollen from plants that also flower in your area. Honey gathered from hundreds of miles away might still be fine in preventing if the plants growing there are the same as the plants growing in your area. So what is most important is knowing what plants grow in your area and what plants grow in the area of the hive. If they match up then you might have an effective tool in your fight against allergies.

(As a side note, it is important to me to note that no well-designed, scientific study has ever been conducted which tests the theory of using local honey to treat allergies. This theory is based on years of personal experience and oral tradition. Personal experience and oral traditions are not worthless but I do hope that in years to come more studies can be conducted to produce reliable data to judge this theory on.)

So, back to the question we are most often asked. Is our honey local? Well. You be the judge. It's local to somebody, but does it meet your definition? At the time of the writing of this blog Classic City Bee Company offers three different types of honey.Here is where they come from:

  • Orange Blossom Honey: Our orange blossom honey is gathered from hives placed in orange orchards in Northern Florida. As a single-origin honey, this variety is often no sought after as a "local" honey but more for its distinct citrusy taste. Although if you live in Northern Florida it's as local as it gets.
  • Southern Wildflower Honey: This wildflower honey is gathered from hives across Northeast Georgia. The hives are located in the piedmont region of the Appalachian foothills north of Athens. I am from Athens myself and personally consider this incredible honey to be "local" according to my own standards.
  • Classic City Select Honey: I tell people who live in the Athens area that this is our "ultra-local" variety. This honey was harvested by me from our hives located within the Athens, Georgia city limit. Its color and texture changes from year to year just like with any other honey and is as unique as the city it calls home.

I would encourage you to decide what your "local" is and what is important to you in determining that. We are excited that the world is becoming more food conscious and is seeking more specific answers to the question of where their food comes from. We are proud to be a part of it.


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