Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Where have all the flavors of honey gone?

A: I'm receiving many phone calls and emails about the lack of honey choice on the shelves. Where has the sage, buckwheat, alfalfa, orange, star thistle honey gone? These flavors were once so prevalent in the pint and quart jars of Meeks' Honey. But the current weather patterns have not led to the success of the plants that make the nectar for the bees. Early heavy fall rains have been a pattern, leading us all to believe that a good honey year is just around the corner. Then winter comes and there is little rain. No rain in spring either. These dry winter/spring patterns mean that the flowers may bloom, or not, but there isn't enough moisture in the soil for the plants to use in their nectar production-the stuff bees use to turn into honey. There is nothing we at Meeks' Honey can do except to hope that 2013/2014 will be wet from fall to spring. Even then there is no assuring the rain won't come in the times when the plants are blooming making it hard for the bees to get out of the hive to work. I hope this short paragraph gives you some idea of how important weather is to the making of honey. We will continue to carry wildflower honey from California, and flavors in the small jars, so we can spread out the unique flavors for as long as possible.

Q: Why are all the bees dying?

A: There are many theories for CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder, or for other illnesses that cause hives to decline or die.
I subscribe to the idea that mites are the underlying cause of beehive losses. The varroa mite was accidentally introduced into the United States bee populations about twenty years ago. Previous to this, US bees were able to control the effects of most common diseases. Now hives already weakened by mites are less able to fight off the effects of even simple illnesses. Mites in hives can only be controlled but not eradicated. Find more information at the UC Davis Department of Entomology website, or click here.

Q: Where do you get your honey?

A: Meeksí Honey buys primarily from beekeepers we know.
While we try to buy only California honey, the current drought and the changing weather patterns have left us unable to buy many honeys that were previously abundant. Many California beekeepers move bees to Midwestern states where summer rains allow forage crops to grow and allow bees to make honey. We continue to purchase honey from those beekeepers we know, even if their honey comes from other parts of the country.

Q: Do you have "organic" honey?

A: This has been a difficult word for labeling honey. Honey was never given an organic designation in California because of our population density and the likelihood that no hives could be away from spray. Many organic certifiers also require the soil be handled as organic for years before approving this designation. Since most of my beekeepers are migratory, there is little way we have of predictably being in certifiably organic places. But beekeepers have no interest in putting their bees in harms way and more pressure to grow organically has created more potential for cleaner growing grounds for food, even if those places are not clearly defined as organic. I tested my own sage honey against a designated organic honey (certifier unknown) and both came up as free of any residual pesticides.

Q: Do you have raw honey?

A: My definition of raw honey is honey directly from the hive. Honey in the comb would be raw because itís never gone through the extraction, storage, and bottling processes that most liquid honeys must go through to be marketable. Our honey is generally heated to no more than 120 degree F, but it must be heated to be workable as I usually get it in its granulated state. I would also ask that you think about what youíre going to do with the honey because if you want raw honey to put into a 180 degree F cup of tea then youíre going to destroy its beneficial qualities anyway. More information about the nutritive qualities of honey can be found at the National Honey Board web site.

Q: What about allergies?

A: I would like to be able to claim that local honey brings relief to allergy sufferers but this rumor has been around a long time with no quantified information to substantiate it. If honey were a simple comfort for allergy sufferers I think we would know by now. My mother suffered from allergies since she was allergic to almost everything, including dust and animal hair. Many people are allergic to things that have nothing to do with bees or they are allergic to plants that the bees donít get nectar from. Allergies are complicated and very troublesome, and while I wish there were a simple cure in honey I donít really believe it to be true. Still, if anyone can get comfort in honey I wonít talk him or her out of it.

Q: What do I do about "granulated" honey?

A: Granulation is a natural process for honey. Honey is made up of four kinds of sugars: glucose, fructose, maltose, and sucrose. Honey with a higher concentration of glucose tends to granulate more readily. Other factors will cause granulation, such as temperature, moisture content, and even small specks of dust or wax, and the National Honey Board has a larger explanation of this interesting and natural honey process. To reliquefy granulated honey, place the jar in a warm situation, either over a pilot light, near a heating vent, the dashboard of the car, or more carefully over heated water on the stove. This last one can lead to overcooking so be very careful with anything that can cook the honey. Also keep the jar in an upright position during warming as warm honey tends to finds ways of leaking out of jar lids.