Elusive elixir as
Dripping gold from trees;
Cupped from magic pots;
My sweet tea is riddled with
Tales of faith and deception.
That one jar of honey on your shelf is a love story between bees and flowers that took a million visits across a wide region. If a single colony of bees can produce an average of 50-100 jars per year, then how are our market shelves overflowing with scores of bottles selling this precious stuff. And add to it the dwindling population of bees due to increased use of pesticides in fields.
Buying honey is not a simple chore anymore. We must read the label and find out if the honey is raw, pure, unfiltered, with or without pollens, crystallises or not, organic and so much more. And even then, you will never be able to make out if the honey you are buying has come from a beehive or the cauldrons filled with corn starch syrup.
Before we delve into deeper questions, let’s talk about organic honey here.
For any agricultural produce to be organic, it has to be grown without the aid of chemicals. Sounds easy, but far from it. It is a tedious task to maintain the soil, keep it free from synthetic fertilisers, and yet save the crops from the wrath of pests. Natural honey is organic honey. If it has been produced by bees, squeezed from the hive, extracted naturally, not processed, and packed diligently to keep it safe from heat and sunlight - it is organic honey.
But what about the flowers our bees visit over a million times? What if they have been grown on a chemical diet? Is their nectar also imbued with the toxicity of the chemicals? Logically, the answer would be yes. But, honey bees are delicate creatures. They cannot hold chemicals or toxins inside them. If the flowers on which they forage are toxic then bees will avoid them for the risk of dying. Do you remember the Chernobyl incident? Honey bees were the first to know about the spread of toxins in the air. In one report, apiaries in Belarus (shares border with Ukraine) saw the bees return prematurely as they could not tolerate the poison that had permeated the atmosphere.
Several nations have laid down stringent criteria for organic honey certification. These criteria state that honeybees should not have foraged on fields and farms where chemicals have been sprayed. Additionally, these regions should also be away from industrial and residential colonies, chemically polluted water bodies, and breathing unpolluted air. With cities rapidly extending their boundaries closer to forests and farmlands, it is rare to find such regions.
Indian government provides AGMARK certification for non-adulterated honey and follow a rigorous process including random sampling. But it does not declare honey as organic. There are accredited labs that are provide organic honey certification. But these labs are private and base their results on just one jar of honey, without any follow-ups or random sampling. Therefore, it is difficult to say how pure was the love story between the bees and the flowers.
At Hyness, we have procured and traded honey for thirty years now. All these years we have carefully observed the transforming conditions that have impacted bee colonies, their forage, and the evolution of honey extracting process. Being close to farms and agricultural practices, we have also experienced the changing nature of farming practices over time. So how do we ensure that the quality of honey remains non-adulterated right at the source? We chose elevation; reached for mountainous terrains. We scouted faraway desert; reached for the elusive, literally. And this is how we managed to find colonies of bees whose love stories are not hinted with toxics. If honey is gold, we are selling 24 carat - a premium range that allows extraction of only 50 to 70 bottles a year.
Read about us, our story, and the experience we have collected over generations to keep honey as nourishing as it should be. Know how we have evolved over the years, yet maintained the quality and nourishment of honey - from extraction to packaging and delivery.