Home & Family
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – September is National Honey Month! In honor of this sweet, sweet month, Jack Rowe, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System regional agent, provides some facts and information on the many benefits of honey.
According to Rowe, who is the Alabama Extension beekeeping team leader, the number of Alabama beekeepers is in the thousands. 2018 estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture indicate that there were more than 6,000 hives in Alabama that year. Those hives produced more than 270,000 pounds of honey, valued at more than $260,000.
Instead of large commercial beekeeping, like pollination services and package bee makers, Alabama has more hobbyist and small commercial keepers. In addition to honey, keepers produce allied products–including wax, baked goods, cosmetics, balms and candles, just to name a few. Rowe adds that some beekeepers offer small-scale pollination services.
“Beekeeping is an amazing business with a lot of ways to profit from our colonies,” Rowe said.
Alabama even has a few meaderies, or breweries where they make mead.
“Mead is an ancient beverage made from honey, and there are several varietals,” Rowe said. “All are worth trying.”
Anything related to bees and honey, Alabama’s got it.
Not only does local honey support beekeepers and their families, but it also reflects its own region.
“Local honey is always unique and will smell and taste of the local bloom fragrances,” Rowe said. “It typically has a lighter color than commercial honey as well.”
Compared to commercial processed honey, local honey is also more likely to be raw honey. Unlike commercial honey, raw honey does not undergo filtration or pasteurization. That means local honey really is just that–local.
Honey History and Uses
Thankfully, the method of extracting honey has advanced over the years. The new Langstroth hive system makes honey extraction easier on the beekeeper and the bees.
“Before the Langstroth hive system with removable frames, extracting honey could destroy entire colonies of bees,” Rowe said.
With a safer method for honey extraction, honey uses are endless. While honey is a lovely addition to tea, biscuits and other tasty dishes, it has a long history of alternate uses. In the past, people used honey as a topical wound treatment.
“An ancient medicine called ‘mellified man’ was made by soaking human cadavers in honey until the cadaver was saturated and crystalized in it,” Rowe said. “The remains were then powdered and used as a medicine.”
While honey has had many uses over the years, most people today enjoy it best as a sweet snack. For more information on honey, visit the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu.