Rainbows of wildflowers are beginning to blanket fields and roadsides all over Texas. Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Phlox and Agarita are some of the first to bloom providing a fabulous feast for bees! The golden nectar they produce bursts with health benefits — said to calm allergies, soothe sore throats, skin irritations and a host of other ailments. While local honey may be all the buzz, buyer BEE-ware! Some supermarket honey may not even be honey at all…
Store bought honey can be watered-down, substituted with corn syrup or heavily heated and filtered so that all of the pollen and important enzymes are lost. Also, honey labeled ‘local’ may not necessarily be local, organic or raw. So how do you know if your local honey is legit?
“Know your bottler and ask a lot of questions” says Thiên Gretchen of Gretchen Bee Ranch in Seguin, Texas. Thiên’s husband, Mark, first started raising bees as a hobby back in the late 1980’s. Now, it’s their full time business! They have beehives in 5 counties in South and Central Texas, bottle their own honey and teach others how to become beekeepers. 🙂
“Some bottlers heat and heavily filter the honey to make it run more easily through their machinery,” she continues. “That process can remove some of the most important nutritional elements of honey. We do a course filtering just to remove sticks and bees. It’s still raw. We preserve all the pollen and enzymes.”
Thiên suggests asking the retailer if the honey was bottled by the beekeeper and making sure the beekeeper is in your area. In some cases, honey may be labeled “local” but could be bottled, say, in North Texas, and then distributed and labeled somewhere in South Texas. That’s important to know, especially when looking for certain pollens to help with allergies. The foliage is quite different in various regions of the state. Thiên also warned about the term “organic” on labels:
“There is no agency to certify ‘organic’ when used with honey. Besides, you can’t control where bees go! Who knows what they’re getting into.” She’s got a point!
One word of warning — honey should never be fed to infants under 12 months as it could contain botulinum spores.
Gretchen Bee Ranch bottles a variety of dark and light wildflower and mesquite honeys, bee pollen, honeycomb, as well as beeswax candles and products, body and lip balms. They don’t waste anything!
Honey Curry Chicken
Contributed by Jane Donegan (Seguin, TX)
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup Gretchen Bee Ranch Honey
- ¼ cup mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 chicken cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Stir in honey, mustard, salt and curry powder. Roll chicken in mixture and arrange in a single layer in dish.
Bake uncovered for 1 hour or until tender, basting occasionally. Serve on a bed of Jasmine rice. Serves 4-6.
Honey Pecan Pie
Contributed by Jane Bauld, (Austin, TX)
- 3 eggs beaten
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 cup Gretchen Bee Ranch Honey
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Mix ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes.