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Its time that the honey bees incredible gift of honey has the value it deserves.
It’s not until we get realistic and demand the true monetary exchange for 100% traceable Natural Raw Honey that reflects the value and health benefits of honey, that the industry of "honey making" can actually turn around with practices that honor the honey bee.
Plagiarism and artificial honey are ruining the domestic markets, driving commercial beekeepers to resort to short cuts that are not sustainable.
The Eldorado Apiary bee hives are in their own little unique world separated and surrounded by miles of natural open space, dense with endemic and medicinal plants. Eldorado Springs Apiary lays in the heart of a region of transition between two biological communities, called an Ecotone. This unique and diverse location between plains riparian habitat and a foothills habitat engenders a diverse, unique nectar from a multitude of medicinal flowers. Because of the unique combination of nectar sources our bees forage from, Eldorado Gold honey is naturally creamed and opalescent without any mechanical means, just by the virtue of the flower nectar's. All of our hives are Top Bar hives or Cathedral Hives, this means that the honey is harvested from virgin comb every every time.
Because of the "habitat diversity", number of different types of habitats within a given area, we have a rare and unique botany of flowering plants.
There’s not a lot of money in commercial beekeeping. Aside from selling honey, commercial beekeepers rent their hives out to almond growers in California during February. This has become beekeeper’s biggest paycheck of the year. Almonds are California’s largest crop by revenue and they can’t develop without bees. Up to 80% of all the beehives in North America are in California during February.
Here’s the problem, bees hives would much rather remain half asleep this time of year. So beekeepers trick them into believing it’s mid-summer. They do this by feeding them sugar water, or worse, high fructose corn syrup. Feeding mimics sufficient nectar flow to cause the queen to begin bulking up the hive with more workers. The problem with this is that bees want to eat dehydrated nectar, what we call honey. Honey has a different pH than sugar water, and, over time, sugar water plus other system manipulations weaken the bees’ minimal immune system. These weakened immune systems aren’t able to cope with the germ mosh pit the almond fields have become due to bringing the nation’s honeybee population together. Further, once the brief almond pollination season is over, there’s nothing left for the bees to eat for another month or so. The solution? You guessed it, more sugar water.
Which gets us to the honey we buy in the store. Honey has become an afterthought. Virtually all of the honey available commercially is sugar/corn syrup water that the bees convert to honey with some limited foraging along the way. Virtually all of the hives that honey comes out of have been treated with antibiotics and other chemicals to help them deal with mites and other maladies that their weakened immune systems can’t handle (and yes, that plus the pesticides the bees bring back from foraging a chemically-treated mono-crop is in your honey too). Most of the commercial honey is further diluted with corn syrup. Why? Because corn syrup is cheap and there’s more money to be made in pollination than selling honey.
If we continued to pull on this thread, we’d get to why high fructose corn syrup is so cheap (government subsidies), who’s making money here (a few big seed companies) and the knock-on effects of embedding glyphosate (Roundup) into seeds which are then coated with neonicotinoids (what looks to be the culprit behind Colony Collapse Disorder).
What’s the point? Through a goal of achieving mass pollination of one crop coupled with shifting monetary incentives for beekeepers, we’ve tamped down the volatility in the short run, but are decimating the system over the longer run. The commercial bee population is around half of what it was less than ten years ago.
Further, about half of the honey consumed in the US is imported. Although many countries are either banned or subject to a stiff tariff for “dumping” honey contaminated with toxic metals and chemicals, producers have found ways around this through complex shipping schemes combined with filtering out remnants of pollen that might lead to the discovery of the honey’s origin. Much of this honey is also supplemented with corn syrup in order to cut costs. This has lead one investigative journalist to name honey among the world’s most faked foods.
Here’s the bottom line. Virtually all of the honey available for sale should not be viewed as pure honey. Real honey is flower nectar masterfully converted through the use of enzymes and dehydration into honey by the bees. It carries an unmistakable taste that most have never experienced.
At Backyard Hive, our bees live in one place — the glorious foothills of the Rockies. The bees make everything themselves, including the combs. We never put anything into our hives other than REAL honey on the occasional dearth of nectar flow.
Producing honey of this quality is extremely time consuming relative to standard commercial practices. Because we don’t supplement the bees in any way, our yields are lower. We estimate honey produced in this manner is less than 1% of all honey produced. Eldorado Gold is the honey equivalent of a unicorn.
Until now, we have not offered our honey for sale because we’d rather just eat it ourselves. However, for those who would like to experience the difference between box wine and a nicely-aged bordeaux, we’re offering a very limited supply at a price that comes close to the labor we have in producing it.
We hope you enjoy your first taste of real honey.