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Nov. Newsletter: Venice Surprise & Marshmallow Honey, LWR Farmers Market Move, How Bees Came to USA

An Unexpected Surprise...New Fall Honeys, by Jess Swenson

September/October was a busy month indeed! Our bees gave us back to back honey harvest. The fall season proved to have the best honey production we and all the beekeepers along the Suncoast have experienced in over 8 years! The rain in August and no major hurricanes created the PERFECT conditions for the fall flowering trees and bushes. Beekeepers including ourselves were having to use retired bee boxes to keep up with bees. We believe this unexpected high honey flow caught some hobby beekeepers by surprise. We received many calls from hobby beekeepers scrambling to find bee boxes to put on their hives. The increase cost of wood and supply chain strain made this part of beekeeping particularly difficult for everyone. The result was an increase number swarms this year. Honey bees are like hermit crabs, when they run out room and don't have another box to fill with honey...they eat all the honey and swarm in search of a larger home. For the beekeeper this is disaster, they loose their bees and the honey. This is why although honey flow was amazing, the lack of boxes made it extra stressful. Alma had over 12 honey bee swarms move into old equipment that she was force to bring out of retirement. Some of the queens from these swarms were marked, meaning that they most likely came from a hobby beekeeper. Marking a queen is a common practice by hobby beekeepers, they put a dot on the queen so that they find her easily during inspection. Its too bad you can't put a collar and tag on those queens!

So what was the end result for Sarasota Honey Company?! The following honeys were produced.....

Osprey, Venice, Englewood Bay/Beach Front Honey: Every few years the weather conditions and blossoms align perfectly in Osprey, Venice, and Englewood creating a very unique buttery sweet honey. Some have described this honey as having a butterscotch taste. The bees make this honey only in this area. Our guess is that there must be some kind of wildflower or bush in this area that is not found anywhere else on the Suncoast. Only when the weather is just right will the area create enough of this mystery blossom to make a unique honey. The last time we had this honey was in 2018. The years after 2018 the honey from the bay areas in Venice, Sarasota to Anna Maria Island tasted pretty much the same. As recent as last month we had a customer ask if we had the Venice honey....we can now say, "Yes we do!"

Bay 2021: The bay front honey from 2021 is now available! The taste and color nothing like 2020. The 2020 Bay Honey was darkest honey we have experienced in 8 years. Created by our bees during the COVID shutdown when there was very little landscaping. Allowing flowers to blossom that would normally be removed. Bold molasses like flavor. Now that things have gone back "normal" with landscaping and projects resuming the color is light again, similar to recent years. The 2021 Bay honey has been described as having a sweet taste with slight buttery notes due to the unique honey that was created in south Sarasota county. Created from the blossoms of sea grapes, palm trees, mangroves and all the foliage found around the Sarasota Bay/Beach County. This honey comes from our hives in the Jungle Gardens Neighborhood, University Blvd, Lido, Longboat key and Downtown Sarasota Areas, Osprey, Englewood, Venice bay and beach front.

Sarasota Gold 2021: This premium raw wildflower comes right from your backyard! This honey has been described as sweet, mild, and full flavored. Great in tea. This honey comes from our hives in the Fruitville Rd, Clark, Macintosh , University, Lakewood Ranch, Englewood and Venice areas away from the bayfront.

Extreme Local: New College Chunk Honey for Honey Bee Awareness. A bee-uatiful collaboration between New College students/staff and Sarasota Honey Company to promote honey bee awareness, beekeeping, and honey bee research. Our New College Apiary has our oldest non-chemical treated queens! This apiary has been mostly used for research and not honey production. We take what we have learned from this apiary and apply it to our production hives to promote healthy happy bees. For the first time ever, these old queens did so well that they produced chunk honey! The New College Honey will be available at our store and website, 20% of retail sales of this honey will be donated to New College to aid in maintaining the needs of the honey bees, the apiary, and any tools/equipment needed to aid students in helping us learn beekeeping and honey bee best practices.

The "Marshmallow" Honey is BACK!

We promised you we would do whatever we could to get this honey back and we did. We were worried that we wouldn't be able to deliver on this promise due the unfounded weather conditions of the North West US experienced this summer. The quantity and taste of honey is sooo weather driven if the honey is made of 100% flower nectar and not from feeding your bees a diluted corn syrup water like the cheap "honey" found at most grocery stores. (If you are paying $7 a pound, I would question the purity of the "honey" ) The 2021 Venice honey is an example of concept you are what you eat. The harvest of the "marshmallow" honey low but our beekeeper friends were still able to get us some. This is the only honey we carry that does not come our area.

So what makes this honey so unique?

Meadowfoam honey has a distinctive taste many describe as “toasted marshmallow”, and a delightful vanilla-like aroma… that is the experience of Meadowfoam Honey. It just melts in your mouth. Whip it with soft butter for a delicious spread on biscuits, toast or warm bread. Stir into hot cereal, or hot tea. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg into Meadowfoam honey for a delicious ice cream topping. A “dessert” honey extraordinaire!

Where is Meadowfoam honey come from?

Meadowfoam is a plant native annual herb to the Pacific Northwest. Meadowfoam is aptly named for its appearance of foam on the ocean waves when fields are in full bloom. Meadowfoam is grown primarily for oil production used by the cosmetic industry. The vibrant white blossoms are stunning and can catch your eye from miles away. When in bloom the fields look like someone has rolled out a giant white carpet, as if there were a few feet of clouds lying on the ground you could walk out on. As stunning as the blossoms are, what is inside them is even more amazing. Meadowfoam blossoms hold inside a highly sought after nectar that the bees find irresistible. This honey is hard to keep in stock, so be sure to get it while you can! All of our honeys are raw, natural, and pure, but this one is just something special.

The Lakewood Ranch Farmers’ Market Is Moving!

The Farmers’ Market at Lakewood Ranch is on the move. This Sunday, the market— which has been setting up weekly at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center for years—will shift to Waterside Place, the sprawling dining, shopping and arts and entertainment destination that is slowly opening to the public. The market is home to more than 75 vendors who sell fruits and vegetables, bread and prepared foods, plus items like jewelry, flowers and Sarasota Honey Company Honey and goods. It will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday at Waterside, starting this Sunday, Nov. 7. Waterside Place is located at 7500 Island Cove Terrace, Lakewood Ranch.

How the Honeybee Came to America by Cleo Warn

Many people know how the pilgrims came to America but people may not realize that the honeybee also came to America from Europe. It was in the 1600s that this happened. Now here is no clear evidence that the bees came over on the Mayflower. There were a lot of shipments put onto the Mayflower so maybe they did, but no documentation was ever made to confirm that beehives were on the ship when it arrived in Massachusetts. It wasn’t until a year later that we got clear documentation of a cargo of honeybees being shipped to North America from Europe. These bees came from The Council of Virginia Company in London who wrote to the governor of Virginia on December 5, 1621, that “We have by this ship… sent you divers sorte of seed and fruit trees, as also Pidgeons, connies (rabbits), Peacocks and beehives…” The year after, three ships delivered Apis Mellifera: the European honeybee to Jamestown, Virginia.

There were not a lot of successful shipments of honeybees after that. One 1632 request from Providence, Rhode Island for bees sent from England was not fulfilled and historical documentary sources reveal that the honeybees multiplied and feral swarms began to spread out. It wouldn’t be until the mid-17th century that another shipment of bees would come in.

Two years later, a municipal apiary was established in Newbury, Massachusetts. It is actually a myth is that most country and wilderness farms within America had their own hives to provide honey and wax. The small country farmer relied on bee hunting or bee lining the feral honey bees to obtain his supply. By the mid-1750’s, migrating swarms of feral honey bees arrived in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. By the end of the 17th century, the industrious feral bees had spread and flourished throughout the colonies, pushing northward into New England. They became more common in the middle colonies than New England, no doubt because they were not as accustomed to the cooler temperatures of the north.

Bees continued to provide honey and wax for human consumption and market. They pollinated the European seeds and saplings that the immigrants brought with them. And they changed the environment (many times in advance of the human immigrants) making it more acceptable to the imported livestock by helping to spread white clover and other English grasses By 1776, when a group of wealthy statesmen were deciding if they wanted to defy their mother country enough to claim independence, the honey bees had swarmed their way into Michigan so that by 1800, they were in Missouri, Indian, Iowa, and Illinois. It took another twenty years, and the bees made their way past the Mississippi to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas with Wisconsin soon following. In 1848, Mormons arrived in Utah with a stash of honey bees on the back of their wagons. By 1852, honeybees were found in Nevada. Bees finally made their way to California the next year, 1853, but not overland. They did so by a sea route along the East Coast, crossing the Panama Canal, before shipping up the west coast and into California. Therefore, it took 231 years from the time honeybees were first introduced to North America in 1622, until they made their appearance in California in 1853.


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