Buy Honey Now

If you just want the bottom line, you can stop reading.  The headline said it all.  If you like honey and want to keep eating it, buy it now before the price goes up.

I attended the summer meeting of the Vermont Beekeepers Association Saturday and the main topic of conversation: no honey.  No one’s really sure why, but spring was soaking wet and the bees couldn’t fly.  The constant rain and warm temperatures melted our large snow pack all at once and Lake Champlain suffered the worst flooding in recorded history (which goes back about 180 years around here).

We all prayed for the rain to stop and it did in late June and it might be starting again now, or it might not.  We went from “’too wet to fly” to “too dry for nectar,” or at least that’s what everyone is guessing.

My bees made some honey in the spring but have been eating it themselves in recent weeks.  I thought it was a failure on my part.  (I’ve been having other bee issues this summer that I won’t go into here, other than to say there’s an adage that holds that every beekeeper will make every mistake eventually and I’ve been busy checking off boxes on the list.)

I got to the VBA meeting to hear everyone – even the big operators – have hives empty of honey.  Start feeding, the elders of the group said or your bees might starve.  Now is the springtime of our discontent made glorious summer – and we’re feeding bees.  It’s incredible.  I suppose if you live long enough you’ll see everything, but in this century you don’t have to live long – unless you want to see what used to be called normal.

There is no Colony Collapse Disorder in Vermont.  Not yet, at any rate.  State Apiculturalist Steve Parise reports that mites and foulbrood, two scourges of honeybees are present as always, but don’t present a potent threat this year.

Another oddity being reported for the past few years now is pollen hoarding.  Pollen is naturally stored and eaten by bees (along with water and nectar) but what people are seeing seems like obsessive behavior – bees filling all the cells in a frame with pollen to the point that the queen can’t find empty cells to lay eggs in, thus causing the colony to swarm in some cases.  No one seems to have the first notion as to why this is happening.

So go buy some honey.  Think of it as commodity futures trading on the local market scale.  Nice thing about honey, it doesn’t go bad, so the honey you buy this week will be just as good next year or next century.

The way things are going, it might be the safest investment you can make.

© Mark Floegel, 2011

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