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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there were 2.74 million colonies producing honey in the U.S. in 2014 and it seems the production of honey is rising each year. Though shortages have been reported on the international honey market, honey production is certainly a great business opportunity throughout the world.
Honey is a natural sweetener created from flower nectar by bees, bumblebees, honey wasps and some other insects. Though completely original in its natural form, some mass scale honey producers are giving antibiotics to bees or contaminating the honey in other ways for different purposes. That’s why honey buyers and importers have to be extra careful about the quality of the honey they are purchasing. Honey labels are very important in this respect. They tell us where the product came from, who manufactured it and if there are any other ingredients added. If the honey is labeled “Honey”, or marked with more informative labels about the honey’s source, such as “Lavender Honey”, “Clover Honey”, etc., you don’t need to include the ingredients section on the label, since honey is the only ingredient in a pure, natural honey. However, If you add sweeteners or some other ingredients, then you need to make that clear. On FDA website you’ll find detailed information about the requirements for proper labeling.
Beekeeping and Honey Labeling 101
The bee’s greatest value to man is the pollination of flowers and agricultural plants. They pollinate about 1/3 of all American agricultural crops. Without bees it would be difficult to grow: cucumbers, almonds, avocados, blueberries, pears, carrot seed, melons, apricots, cherries, apples, cranberries, and many other fruits and vegetables. In order to have a healthy economy and diversity of food products, it is important to maintain healthy bee colonies. Today many people are starting their own bee colonies even in urban settings, and contributing to the well balanced ecosystem.
Apart from their agricultural work, bees are also valued for producing beeswax, pollen, propolis, bee venom, and most importantly, honey. The market for locally produced and specialty honey is particularly strong in the US, so local beekeepers can easily be found at farmers markets, roadside stands or at their home. Urban and local beekeepers are also growing in number in other western countries such as Canada and UK. They often rely on useful information and beekeeping tutorials from excellent local resources and blogs such as Talking with Bees, Urban Bee Network and many more.
Being successful at beekeeping takes a little more than evaluating the honey’s taste. The following infographic explains some of the obstacles beekeepers experience in their work and gives practical tips on how to keep the bees healthy and alive, and how to properly label honey jars to better inform honey consumers about the product.