Mead Lover's Digest #1547 Mon 10 October 2011


Mead Discussion Forum



Re: MLD #1546, 3 October 2011 – organic honey? (
organic honey (Dick Dunn)


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Digest Janitor: Dick Dunn

Subject: Re: MLD #1546, 3 October 2011 - organic honey?
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2011 05:23:35 +0000 (UTC)

> > Subject: Hawaiian Honey
> > From:
> > Date: Sun, 2 Oct 2011 20:47:19 -0400 (EDT)

> > +1 on the organic honey scam. Bees forage up to a two mile radius from
> > the hive. That is over 8,000 acres. How can anyone certify that every
> > nectar
> > source within a two mile radius is organic?
> >
> > Is price your main consideration when purchasing honey? Consider this:
> >
> > Honey Laundering
> > _
> > (
> >
> > With aloha,
> > Carl Saxer
> > Puna District
> > Hawaii Island
IMHO the "organic honey" thing may or may not be a scam depending on your
definition of "organic". Certainly if one counts all the nectar sources,
it would be all but impossible to do "organic" from that standpoint.

However it certainly is possible to do non-chemical pest management of the
hives, and run them on an "organic" basis by not using any of the various
chemicals like Fumadil-b, and all the assorted mite control products.
I do a semi-organic route by using screened bottom boards and slatted rack
entrances on my hives, and give them an "essential oil" vapor treatment
in spring and fall w/ no honey supers in place, but don't generally do
any other meds.

Considering that most of the nectar sources my bees are hitting are wild
flowers and trees that don't get treated by anything, and that any other
sources are mostly going to be filtered through the plant as it makes
nectar, I would say that my honey is at least semi-organic…

So it may be worth asking what the person claiming "organic" honey is
using for a definition…


Subject: organic honey
From: Dick Dunn <>
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 22:27:57 -0600

While I understand the amazing range of foraging bees, and I see the
difficulty of producing "organic honey", it's a big leap from there to
proclaiming that there is no such thing as organic honey.

Start with the facts that most of the readers of this Digest are in the US,
and that putting the word "organic" on the label of a food product is
controlled by federal regulations.

NOW, there are Web pages which point out that there are no specific USDA
regulations defining what would make honey organic (and as far as I can
find, this is correct), but from that, these pages leap to the conclusion
that therefore the term "organic" means nothing wrt honey. That leap
isn't justified–as there are also no specific regulations relating to
an "organic" declaration for -most- food products. However, there are
many requirements which apply in general across food products…you can
find these in the e-CFR (the online Code of Federal Regulations).

In a specific case, someone mentioned in a previous Digest the Dutch Gold
brand, which has both regular and organic honeys. The Dutch Gold web site
contains a page explaining the provenance of their organic honey and the
specific restrictions which allow it to be declared "organic". These
include a two-mile radius around the hives where there's no pesticide
use etc., restrictions on foundation in the hives, no feeding the hives,
separation in the processing plant with a complete clean-down prior to
processing the organic version…really quite a lot of constraints but
all of them make sense in the context of the overall requirements of the
USDA regs for putting "organic" on the label.

It strikes me as unreasonably disparaging to any producers who go to these
lengths, to deny the very existence of "organic honey".

Keep in mind also that the "organic" USDA regulations are intended to
represent stringent yet practical constraints and good-faith efforts
(excepting the few cases where industry lobbying has nobbled the
regulators). There is no such thing as absolutely-organic since the
use of pesticides has put traces of them around the globe. But there
IS organic in a practical sense. (Note how a farm can -become- organic,
through a transitional period.)

Certainly, if I were going to buy honey from a commercial producer, and
if there were a price premium for organic honey, I would investigate
what they mean by the term before I'd pay the premium. But I wouldn't
just write them off as charlatans.

Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA

End of Mead Lover's Digest #1547