Monday, July 25, 2011

Plan Bee Honey

Plan Bee Honey
(Why is it different?)

What we don’t do
What we do do
No chemicals in our hives
Wild flowers make the nectar
No chemicals on our land – Plan Bee
We filter the honey with a 600 micron filter
Not pasteurized
We prefer glass to bottle our honey
Not produced with sugar water

No chemicals in the hives – Something most consumers don’t know is that many beekeepers use chemicals in their hives to combat other insect pests that attack honeybees.  While these chemicals target the pests, they weaken the bees.  The chemicals also make their way into the honey.  If you eat honey from chemically treated hives, you are eating chemically treated honey.

No chemical approach - According to our best information, the best protection for a honeybee hive is a strong honeybee hive.  The bees themselves attack their pests and literally drive them out of the hive.  Another natural way to protect bees is to put them in a sunny area (healthy bee environment).  You see the pests don’t like it as hot as bees do.  It only takes a few degrees to keep out the pests and protect the bees. 

No chemicals on Plan BeeOne way to control weeds and pests is through the use of chemicals.  Yep, if you pour chemicals on the land, weeds die, flowers die and bees can die.  Taking this one step further, people can die too.  Don’t believe us, top off your next beverage with your favorite insecticide or herbicide.  I believe they call it suicide.

            No chemical approach on Plan Bee – On Plan Bee we do things differently.  We don’t mow the approximately front 4 acre field.  Instead we just let it grow.  It grows a variety of wild flowers.  We have also introduced other vegetation as well.  We have added lavender, apple, peach, cherry, fig, apricot and pawpaw trees.  We just planted some buckwheat which will produce little white flowers as a cover crop in the fall for our hungry bees.  We don’t spray for clover, we plant it.  The bees love clover flowers.

Not pasteurizedMost honey is pasteurized which means it is heated at 145° Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  

Why pasteurize? Bakers in particular look for honey that has been heated to a point where enzymatic activity has been destroyed. Enzymatic activity in honey can interact in some products, reducing shelf life. For instance, if raw honey was used in a butter frosting, the enzymatic activity will make the butter turn faster than normal.

The first method for producing whipped honey was patented by Elton J. Dyce in 1935 (U.S. Patent 1,987,893). In this process, raw honey is first pasteurized to kill any yeasts that may be present in the honey.  After pasteurization, previously processed whipped honey is added to the pasteurized honey to produce a mixture of 10% whipped honey and 90% pasteurized honey.  The mixture is then allowed to rest at a controlled temperature of 57 °F (14 °C). This method will produce a batch of whipped honey in about one week.  A seed batch can be made by allowing normal honey to crystallize and crushing the crystals to the desired size.  (

Honey is not recommended for children under the age of 1 because of one medical case years ago traced a case of botulism in an infant to the honey served the night before.  The undeveloped digestive system of an infant could make it susceptible to such toxins.  Unfortunately, the study did not determine how the botulism was introduced to the honey (ie, was something dipped into it?). However, because of this case, the honey industry recommends that children under the age of 1 do not eat honey.

            Not pasteurized honey approach - Raw honey still has enzymes, proteins, and minerals that would be destroyed if honey was heated.  Discerning critics believe raw honey tastes better than heated honey.  Anecdotal evidence says that a spoonful of local honey each day, taken over a series of months, will help build up resistance to allergies. The idea is that the body receives small doses of pollen over a period of time, similar to allergy shots. (Please note: We have not seen scientific studies that prove or disprove this idea, although it is our understanding several studies are underway right now.)  ( 

“The Revolutionary Effects of Honey on Human Metabolism” (Dr. Ron Fessenden, specialist in honey’s many health benefits and author of The Honey Revolution and other soon-to-be published books on honey and health). Honey is uniquely metabolized in the human body; unlike sucrose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup, it directly forms liver glycogen, the brain’s main fuel reserve. By keeping the liver glycogen reserve “topped off,” honey is safe for diabetics and also therapeutic. And it helps prevent or eliminate metabolic stress, which can lead to hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypothyroidism, osteoporosis, depression, sleep disorders, Alzheimer's disease, and ADHD in children.

Honey is made from nectar which bees gather from different plants and flowers. Nectar is changed into honey by enzyme action in the bodies of the bees, and is stored in wax cells in the hive. It is then left to ripen, and in time, it thickens because of evaporation caused by the fanning of the bees' wings. Bees produce honey for their own use, as their main source of food. Honey has been in use for thousands of years. A jar of honey, still in perfect condition, was found in an Egyptian tomb, where it was placed over 3,000 years ago. Honey contains an enzyme which prevents it from molding; therefore, it needs no preservatives. Because bees are very sensitive to pesticides, honey is fairly free from contamination; the bees, if exposed to sprays, usually die before returning to the hives.

Not produced with sugar waterWhen most consumers think of honey, a picture comes to mind of bees flying from flower to flower gathering nectar and returning to their hive to make honey.  In fact, here is what Wikipedia has to say: (Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers.  The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans.  (  ) 

             Honey can be produced from sugar water.  It does not have the benefits of pollen and other elements from the flowers.  Bees don’t even have to leave their hives to get it.  The reason some beekeepers would use sugar water could be cost, convenience or environment.  If you have your bee in a location without any bee food, they have to feed them sugar water.  We think this is bad for the bees and bad for people.

            The no sugar water approach (Wild flowers make the nectar) – To be honest we will feed our bees a mixture of sugar, thyme, salt and chamomile tea in the summer if there is no bee food around and AFTER the honey harvest.  Particularly during the honey flow, our bees can find plenty of food.  But during the summer months when everything is past bloom and before the fall/autumn nectar flow, our bees may be hungry.  We carefully examine their nectar stores and if deemed insufficient, we feed them until they can find good bee food again.  Fortunately with a wide open field in a rural setting, they seem to be doing really well.  Therefore, the honey we obtain from our bees is wild flower honey with a unique flavor and color.  It is full of pollen and propolis which is healthy for people.

We filter the honey with a 600 micron filter - Pollen grains vary in shape, coloration and size. The smallest grain of pollen belongs to the alpine forget-me-not, measuring three micrometers. The largest is from the cucumber flower, measuring at around 200 microns.  Read more:
Pollen Grain Size Facts |

If you look at the picture below you will see honey directly from our hive.  The white specs are wax cappings from the end of each honey producing cell.

We use a Hackler Honey Punch which punches little holes in the end of each honey cell.  After the frame is put into the honey extractor, the wax cappings just flow with the honey.  We use the 600 micron filter to remove this wax from the honey.

 That’s it.  We hate to use words like “PURE” but as you can read from our process it doesn’t get much “PURER” than that.

We prefer glass to bottle our honey – Honey does NOT react to glass and like “PURE” water just seems to taste better in glass.  According to our best information, the honey you receive from Plan Bee will last indefinitely. 

Questions to ask of those selling you honey
#1 – Where are your beehives?  I don’t care much where they bottle it but if you are counting on “local honey” you want to know where the hives are. (Ours are located in Liberty, NC)
#2 – Do you use chemicals in your hives?  That’s a yes or no.  (Again, our answer is no.)

Hope this helps and if you have other questions, please reach out to us via email.

If you post a neat comment, it might earn you some Plan Bee honey.  Wouldn't that bee a sweet deal.

Like beekeeper Geno says, "Hope to see you by the hive."


  1. This certainly is an enlightened approach to managing bees! You can't find honey like this in retail outlets and I'd like to see more made available to the public.

  2. Already had a comment regarding the information about honey being okay for diabetics. One great source for additional studies is

    If you read the article you will note that not all honey has the same glycemic index. At some point I will do a post on overseas honey vs local honey. I think the Plan Bee Honey post is a good first step.

  3. My wife tries to buy local honey as well. She has always believed that local honey made by bees from local pollen helps build up allergy resistances to those local pollens. Not sure how true that is, but if it means she keeps buying local, fresh honey, I'm happy.

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