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spoonful of honey

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Sticky, sweet and good for you. With its rich flavor and many uses, honey is a staple in many homes. September is National Honey Month. Celebrate with a spoonful of local honey, and learn about the benefits of beekeeping.   

Purchasing Local Honey

According to the National Honey Board, honey demand reached an all-time high in 2021. It has many beneficial uses, and the flavor is a favorite of many. Alabama Cooperative Extension System Regional Agent Jack Rowe said honey can be used when cooking, for medicinal purposes, as a preservative and a sweetener.   

“Honey is good for cooking, preserving foods and even just for sweetening,” Rowe said. “It is the sweetener of the whole past ages of humanity.”   

Also, one of the best ways to support communities and local people is by purchasing locally grown and produced products. Local honey can be found at almost any farm stand or farmers market.   

“Local honey is one of those joys in our culinary lives,” Rowe said. “It’s fragrant, it’s tasty, it supports local people and keeps the ideals of local life and food alive.”

However, one common myth that Rowe said has been disproved is the thought that honey from local bees prevents seasonal allergies.   

“The plants the bees feed from are not the ones releasing airborne pollen,” Rowe said. “Also, honey never contacts any of our nasal membranes.”  

Benefits of Beekeeping 

Honey Bees on CombBeekeepers are an important aspect of the agriculture industry, and it is a hobby that more people are taking part in. Alabama Extension Urban Regional Agent Allyson Shabel said beekeeping is a great hobby to help connect you to the environment around you.   

Also, beekeepers play a key role in protecting and caring for local pollinators. The bees pollinate the local crops that farmers and gardeners have planted while also producing honey for local communities.   

“Protecting pollinator populations in your local environment is important,” Shabel said. “Many flowering plants in your landscape rely on pollinators to produce the next generation of seeds.” 

Beekeeping also provides an opportunity to stay active. From lifting heavy boxes to wearing protective suits in hot weather, beekeeping requires physical endurance and disciplined time management to make sure the colony survives.   

“Beekeeping can be physically demanding, but very rewarding,” Shabel said. “It is a very physical hobby that requires strength and stamina.”  

Getting Started

Shabel said one of the best ways to start beekeeping is by reaching out to local beekeepers and taking whatever classes are available.   

“Take a beginner beekeeping course,” Shabel said. “Alabama Extension hosts a beginner beekeeping class at the annual ACES Beekeeping Symposium in February.”  

Also, Shabel said joining a local beekeeping club allows prospective beekeepers to talk with others about how they manage their time and apiary.    

“The bees are fascinating and there is always something new to learn,” Rowe said. “And honey has been a part of human history forever. Both are important to the lives of everyone.”  

More Information

For more information about honey and beekeeping, visit your local Alabama Extension office to talk to an agent, or check out the Bees & Pollinators section of the Alabama Extension website at www.aces.edu.

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