We believe that having a good tasting product is worth nothing if the methods used to produce it are not in line with nature.
Ethically Produced Honey
In order to guarantee that all our products are harvested sustainably we decided to work with beekeepers which follow certain guidelines when it comes to bee management and hive placement. We find that the rules established by the European Union are a good start point so that we can set standards. The European Union has been the major contributor to the establishment of organic beekeeping guidelines and other countries have followed suit.
The main points on the European Union Regulation for Organic Beekeeping are:
- Apiaries must be placed in areas (approximately 12.5 sq. mi. or 28 km2) surrounded by native vegetation or organic operations, free of GMOs, pesticides, pollution, cities and busy roads.
- The Beekeepers leave enough honey and pollen for the bees to feed on until next season. Artificial feeding must be avoided at all costs. In case of life threatening situations, beekeepers are allowed to feed their bees with organic products. Bee Seasonal encourages beekeepers to save organic honey and pollen from past harvests and feed that to the bees if necessary.
- Practices that cause mutilation, pain, destruction of brood, larvae and bees are prohibited.
- Hives can only be relocated with permission of the certification agent.
- No use of chemical glues and plastics for hive construction. Hives must be built using recyclable natural occurring material such as wood.
- No chemical residues can be used in and around the hives (synthetic pesticides or other materials such as cleaning products or repellents, antibiotics or synthetic medicine, etc.)
- Honey harvesting must be done without use of synthetic repellents. Destruction of bees in the combs as a method associated with the harvesting of beekeeping products is prohibited. Both removing of supers and honey extraction must be documented.
Uncapping honey by hand at Breyer's facility.
Is organic honey better than conventional?
Certified organic honeys are, by definition, associated to better and more sustainable beekeeping practices. Beekeepers who follow guidelines for organic and natural honey production are in more synergy with the environment around them and with the health of their bees. They only harvest honey when there is surplus, this way bees are guaranteed enough food for the winter months and do not need to be fed with artificial substitutes, a very common practice in conventional beekeeping.
Organic beekeepers also avoid taking part on commercial pollination services. Not taking part in these services puts less stress on bees. Conventional beekeepers many times depend on pollination to make money. This practice is associated with the trucking of the bees across the country searching for the next “cash crop”. This increases the bees exposure to pesticides and herbicides, which sometimes can end up in conventional honeys. Bees that are used for commercial pollination are under more stress and more susceptible to pests and illnesses, which are usually treated with pesticides and synthetic antibiotics, which many times can also be found in conventional honeys.
Having an organic certification is only a part of the bigger picture. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to assure that all honeys stamped with an organic seal were harvested in accordance to more sustainable standards.
At the end we can only speak for ourselves. We stand behind our honeys and our ethically produced honey standards. We are committed to the most natural and sustainable practices that exist. Our partners are in line with our philosophy and focus on quality and sustainability while investing in their communities.
We need to keep in mind that there are many beekeepers out there who follow sustainable practices while working yet are unable, or do not wish to get an organic certification for various reasons.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to know your beekeepers and how they work.
Casimiro. One of the beekeepers in south Brazil.