Honey is a beautiful product that humans have enjoyed for centuries. It’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties provide many health benefits including brain functioning and wound healing. However, recently there has been some media coverage on ‘fake’ honey, referring to honey which has been mixed with sugar syrups such as sugar cane, corn or rice. These products can be cheaper and easier for manufacturers to produce, which can change the nutritional benefits provided by honey.
In 2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) fined two companies for selling honey products containing Turkish sugar syrup. Since then, there has been speculation into other companies in Australia, Europe and the US. It is vital that we are aware of what we are buying, and support the businesses who are doing the right thing by providing 100% pure honey.
What to look for:
Local is best. If you can find a local beekeeper near where you live, this is going to make it much easier to find out information on their bees and the processes they use to extract the honey. This also reduces the amount of time taken between hive to jar. If you can’t find one near where you live, look for products made in Australia. Andrew Wyszynski, owner and passionate bee expert of Maya Sunny Honey suggests ‘Be sure to support Australian beekeepers as well as buy 100 percent raw honey. (untreated and unheated).’
Companies that provide a range of information on their products is a good sign as this allows you to be informed of the product and the processes involved in its production. Don’t let the price persuade you, just because something is expensive, doesn’t mean it is pure and sustainable.
Fake VS Real Honey:
If you’re unsure whether your honey is real or not, there is a simple test you can take. Place a teaspoon of honey in a glass, and pour water over so the honey is fully covered. Swirl the glass around and have a look at the honey as you do so. If the honey you have is real, a honeycomb pattern should form at the bottom of the glass, whereas ‘fake’ honey will either remain with a smooth appearance or dissolve into the water.
Our top tips for when you are shopping for honey:
There is a beautiful array of beekeeping companies around Australia, but a few we have discovered are Maya Sunny Honey and Goldfields Honey.
Goldfields Honey is close to home for me, as not only is it based just outside of Orange (my home town), but is the honey I’ve been having since I was little. The great thing about goldfields honey is that they actually have a café and brewery on the property right where the honey is packed so you can stop by for a tasting of their specialty honey, and even ask a few questions about the honey itself. If you’re heading out that way, I definitely recommend you stop in and check it out, or go onto their website and find out about their great selection of honey.
Maya Sunny Honey is a beautiful business based in Mudgee, which believes honey should be experienced in its purest form, shown through their 100% pure honey range. They have a great selection of specialty honey including lavender honey, truffle honey, and many more. They’re also at Eveleigh Markets every Saturday as well as stocked in specialty stores around Australia as well as online so easily accessible no matter your location.
There are three important factors to getting a good batch of honey according to Andrew from Maya Sunny Honey:
1. Healthy bees and disease free. At present one of the bigger problems beekeepers are faced with in Australia is Small hive beetle which effects the entire beehive. The bees are very weak (similar to depressed) and don’t want to fly out to collect nectar and pollen. Bees are stronger in a colony so they don’t want to leave the hive when it’s diseased.
2. Weather plays a major factor in the production of honey. Good Positioning of beehives to flowers, trees, water and away from direct sunlight. The entry to the beehive must also be adjusted to the amount of bees in the beehive. For example. The more bees the bigger opening for ventilation.
3. Beekeeper – it is important to know when the time is right to extract and collect honey.
He goes on to say, the most important thing to keeping bees – ‘Bee educated! Get informed about bees and how to look after them. No bees, No life. ‘
If you are interested in starting up your own bee hive at your house, or just finding out a bit more about beekeeping, there is a wealth of knowledge in the book written by Tim heard ‘The Australian Native Bee Book’. This book discusses native bees, specifically the ‘stingless’ bees found in Australia and how to efficiently and safely extract honey from these unique creatures.
Bee sustainable is an Australian company, based in Victoria that provides DIY beekeeping equipment for your home such as the boxes, hats, strainers etc. To find out more, visit their website. You might have also heard of another Australian business, Flow, which broke all records for international crowd funding with it’s “Flow Hive” and turned the sometimes, hot, sticky and heavy work of bee keeping and honey collecting on it’s head.
Did you know?
There are a few ways to extract honey, however the most commonly used methods are spin extraction, and crush and strain.
Spin extraction involves framed hives, which are de capped (the outer layer is cut off the hive), and put into a machine that spins the frames, extracting the honey into the barrel it is placed in. The honey is then strained to remove any excess hive materials and put into jars.
Andrew says that, “Knowing the time to extract is important. When there’s a lot of flora around the bees are occupied flying around to flowers and collecting pollen/ nectar and there are less in the hive, that way we use less smoke.” In terms of how often extraction can occur, he says, ‘It really depends on the season. If it’s a good season once a month.’
Crush and strain involves frameless hives that are crushed with nails to puncture the caps of the hives, and then strained into a bucket that filters the solids from the liquid.
There is still more work to do:
It’s no secret that the world’s pollinators, particularly bees, are dying off in alarming numbers, and we are at a tipping point for our food systems and biodiversity.
A report by the United Nations warns that if the disturbing trend continues, there will be awful consequences for the world’s food supply. It’s a dramatic statement, but these statistics show that when we lose pollinators, we lose our food supply; our ecosystems and the overall environment can collapse. In fact, global agriculture is completely dependent on pollinators to maintain food production just as insects are dependent on the diverse agriculture to survive. It’s a mutual dependence where up to one in three bites of our food depends on pollination.
They really are ‘the little things that run the world’.
To help solve the issue, we are creating Sydney's first B&B highway.
'B&B highway' refers to the airborne 'bed & breakfast" route across Sydney for the birds, bees and butterflies. These B&B's will be run by FoodFaith and designed to help alleviate the alarming decline in our pollinators as well as create community garden hubs in a bid to make our city a sanctuary for people and pollinators.
Eight are currently established or in the process of being developed (Lane Cove, Mt Druitt, Bondi and Waverley) by FoodFaith and there are plans for many more at community housing, places of worship and cultural centres around Sydney.
The B&Bs will feature special pollinating gardens and native stingless bee hives or insect hotels to help re-instate habitat.
Our crowdfunding program is off to a flying start (no pun intended). But we still need your help to achieve our goals. You can read more about the project and donate to crowd funding initiative here.