If truth bee told, love for honey is spreading
To celebrate National Honey Month, the National Honey Board is running a campaign to bring awareness to the importance of honey bees and their role in our ecosystem and global food supply.
The National Honey Board began in the mid-1980s when a group of honey producers got together to discuss what might happen if they pooled their efforts together to spread the word about honey.
Last year, the U.S. honey market detailed record-setting consumption. NHB is highlighting that for September — during National Honey Month — and continuing to educate consumers about the benefits and uses of honey and honey products.
Margaret Lombard is CEO of the National Honey Board, which is based out of Boulder, Colorado.
“Our sole purpose is to support the honey industry and to increase consumption of honey in the United States,” said Lombard.
NHB is also committed to bee health research, said Lombard, and with its partner – Project Apis m. — more than 4 million dollars have been donated to honey bee research to help ensure the future health and well-being of honey bees.
The group is also funding research on the nutritional benefits of honey to raise awareness of its lesser-known properties and committed to invested $1 million in scientific nutrition research over the next five years to explore the health benefits associated with honey. Areas of focus include antioxidant compounds in honey and honey's potential role in digestive health.
Lombard said that NHB and the entire U.S. honey industry were excited about a recent Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook report published by the United States Department of Agriculture, which showed that U.S. honey demand reached an all-time high.
“We're very proud of what's been going on in our industry and the hard work of all the beekeepers and all the packers and importers,” said Lombard.
The USDA report on the U.S. honey market detailed record-setting consumption — totaling 618 million pounds of honey and made-with-honey products in 2021. The previous record set in 2017 was 596 million pounds.
“Honey prices have also gone up recently, which is good for the beekeepers and good for the producers,” said Lombard.
Honey Saves Hives
To celebrate National Honey Month, NHB is running its “Honey Saves Hives” campaign, which is an educational program that began in 2020, said Lombard.
“Really the heart of the idea was a sustainability initiative and to raise awareness that when you purchase honey and honey products, that you're supporting beekeepers, honey bees, agriculture, and the whole food system that relies on managed pollinators,” said Lombard of the program.
The campaign is aimed at bringing awareness to the importance of honey bees and the role in our ecosystem and global food supply.
“We were very excited this year to see some great traction on the consumer side, on the food service side, and on the ingredient side with a lot of people taking a lot of interest,” she said.
Along with partnering with food and beverage brands that promote the protection of honey bees, NHB is also taking advantage of the reach by “lifestyle influencers” Brandi Milloy and Joshua Snyder to drive awareness for the campaign.
“I am thrilled to raise awareness as a proud advocate for honey bees by incorporating honey in my routines in whatever ways I can,” said Milloy. “I encourage others to do the same to support these incredible creatures and the beekeepers that work hard to take care of them.”
A special process
Fortunately for lovers of honey, bees make more honey than their colony needs, and beekeepers are able to remove the excess and bottle it. One aspect of NHB’s mission is to highlight how honey is made, which is exclusively in nature and by honey bees.
“It’s a completely natural process, similar to maple syrup although it's hard to eat that right out of a tree,” said Lombard. “You can eat honey right out of a hive.”
All it takes is putting about 50,000 worker bees with one queen, she said, and the bees do the rest.
“They work in a symphony of construction that creates an atmosphere where they're not only making honey, but they're also raising their young and protecting their queen,” said Lombard. “Honey is the delicious outcome of many, many bees work and many many visits to flowers and pollinated plants around the area where the hive is.”
Some honey bee facts, according to NHB:
About one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants, and honey bees are responsible for 80% of this pollination.
Honey bees must tap approximately two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
A hive of bees fly over 55,000 miles to bring you one pound of honey.
Honey bees can fly about 15 MPH while out foraging in the field.
Honey bees communicate through dance and with pheromones.