We all know global honey bee populations are having a hard time surviving, so what can we do to help? Step 1: Eat pure, unadulterated honeycomb.
How can eating honeycomb help bees?
We’re glad you asked because this very question is central to Pass the Honey’s mission and purpose! Purchasing honeycomb from beekeepers who keep honey bees healthy through organic means can help honey bee populations survive and thrive.
Bees play an important role in our agricultural systems by pollinating crops. Honey producing bees like Apis mellifera are unique in that they also produce healthy and delicious food we can harvest and eat. As with all forms of agriculture, there are different practices farmers use as they produce food and those practices have very important effects on the environment, animals, and our health. Agricultural practices like organic and regenerative agriculture are healthier for the environment, farm animals, and for people. The same is true for beekeeping. Beekeepers can use natural and organic methods to raise healthy beehives as they produce honey and honeycomb for sale, and in return, help support the health and thrivability of honey bees for generations to come. We see an opportunity for natural beekeeping to help support healthier bees, people, local businesses, and environments.
What does healthy, natural beekeeping look like?
- NO pesticides or chemicals. Healthy beekeeping ensures bees are not exposed to harmful chemicals in the environment where they forage for food or directly in the hive to control pests. It can be difficult for beekeepers to keep bees away from pesticides in the natural environment since most of our agriculture and even our urban environments use pesticides and herbicides that can harm bees. It is often a challenge for beekeepers to naturally control persistent pests and diseases without using chemicals.
- Provide healthy and natural food sources for bees. This includes not feeding bees sugar water or other non-flower based food sources, unless in emergency situations. To build strong and healthy hives, bees need an abundance of healthy food they find in flowering plants and trees.
- Let bees exhibit their natural behavior for building wax combs and managing breeding. Bees will naturally build their own wax comb for the size and quantity the hive needs. Bees also have their own way of managing queens and brood (baby bee) populations. When hives are allowed to make their comb and reproduce naturally they have healthier populations and stronger genetic diversity.
- Only harvest excess honey. Beekeepers must ensure bees have enough honey to eat throughout the winter. Most healthy hives will produce an abundance of honey, some of which can be harvested without stressing or harming the hive.
- Minimize stress on bees. Bees should be managed in a way that does not stress the hive. Moving the bees so they can pollinate agricultural fields must be weighed for the stress it may cause to the bees.
Natural beekeeping is a highly-skilled trade.
Beekeepers must also be knowledgeable in practices for raising bees and harvesting honey and honeycomb in a way that supports the long-term health of their hives, even when that means harvesting less honey. Unfortunately, conventional, large-scale beekeeping most often does not manage bees for their long-term health, which is why Pass the Honey is working to uplift a better way to raise bees. We believe natural beekeeping is the way to help bees survive and thrive. By buying honeycomb from beekeepers who are using natural and healthy practices you are helping to support honey bee’s health and survival.
Is the beehive damaged during harvest?
A concern we often hear is whether or not the bee’s hive is permanently damaged during harvest of the honeycomb. The answer is: the bee’s hive, home, and food sources are not harmed when honeycomb is harvested responsibly. Natural beekeepers are extremely specialized in their trade and knowledge of managing bees and harvesting honeycomb. A beekeeper takes several factors into consideration when harvesting honey such as the time of year, the number of bees in the hive, the amount of honey stored in the hive and the number of flowers available to the bees that season. A beehive is also made up of several strips of honeycomb. The bees use strips for storing honey and others for laying their eggs to raise more worker bees and queens. Based on all these conditions a responsible beekeeper decides how much honeycomb can be harvested without taking needed food away from bees. A healthy beehive will produce more honey than can be eaten by the bees in a season.
Yes, eating raw, unadulterated honeycomb supports bee health
So the answer is a resounding YES, eating Pass the Honey honeycomb helps save the bees. Thanks for joining us on this journey as we help grow a healthier way to eat honey and save the bees, one honeycomb at a time.
About Pass the Honey
Pass the honey is a purpose-driven company committed to developing a honey industry that uses natural and responsible methods to promote the health of honey bees, the environment, and consumers. We support and buy honeycomb from beekeepers who only use natural and organic practices.
We know there’s a lot of work to be done to help more beekeepers use natural methods which is why we formed a national movement called the Regenerative Honeycomb Initiative. This Initiative establishes a vision, standards of practice, and models for natural honeycomb and honey production in the United States. If you are a beekeeper, landowner, scientist, or advocate, please consider joining the conversation in our Regenerative Honey Working Group.
Book, Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture by Ross Conrad