Chinese Honey Laundering?

October 14, 2008

No, this isn’t an ethnic slur, I’m talking about the other kind of laundering, like money laundering.

Mike and I were chatting about feeding the bees sugar syrup over winter and how long to feed them in sugar syrup into the spring, when he mentioned something a bit surprising. The beginning beekeeping books typically recommend that you feed sugar syrup to the bees “until they stop taking it.” For me, this sometimes meant clear into July (although this past year, I got lazy pretty much right off the bat and didn’t feed them anything past the first gallon to get them established).

What that does, though, is give you honey that’s basically transformed sugar, rather than real nectar honey. Obvious, if you think about it. It surprised me to learn that that’s part of the reason that Chinese honey is so cheap: they’ll feed them buckets of sugar all the way through the season, so that the “clover” honey they sell is little more then lightly flavored, bee-processed sugar syrup.

Well, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, and a little bit of Google is even worse. Try Googling Chinese Honey, and your first two articles are:

“Oh, that’s not a problem, though, because I don’t buy Chinese honey,” you may be thinking? Well, it turns out that China accounts for over 40% of the world’s supply of honey and growing!

As if you didn’t have reason enough already, I implore you: buy local honey!

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