Many of the families involved in the Pine Mountain Grow Appalachia program are extremely interested in local agriculture and food production and they make every effort to expand their r food production in new and interesting ways. Sonny and Geneva, one such dedicated couple in the program, keep bees at their home and produce local honey. Last week as the temperatures threatened to below freezing, they invited me out to harvest the last batch of honey for the season. I have never been very afraid of bees, but I also cannot say I have ever enjoyed their company; however after this experience I am positively fascinated with beekeeping and the idea of local honey production.
     When I arrived to help with the harvest Sonny and Geneva were already dressed in their bee jackets and netted hats and quickly got me suited up in a full body bee suit, netted hat, and gloves. While opening the hives, pulling out racks of honey, and working the smoker, and I learned many things about beekeeping including the way in which bees produce honey, protect their hives, survive the winter, and always return to their same colony. I was also able to see how Sonny and Geneva extract honey from the racks, after they have taken them from the hives, so that it can be strained and put in jars.
a full capped rack of honey! 

     In addition to simply being fun and interesting, keeping bees and selling honey can be a very profitable endeavor, given you put in the necessary work. This summer we sold Sonny’s Honey at the farmers market and had a very successful selling season, all the honey we had sold quickly and those who missed out, or simply polished off their jar already, were back the next week asking for more. The demand for local honey seems to be on the rise, and understandably so. Local honey is a natural sweetener, it is known to help ease allergies, strengthen the immune system, act as a natural antiseptic, and most importantly, it just TASTES GOOD!

Sonny and Geneva do not try to contain their bees or control the areas in which they feed so they end up with a spectrum of honey from very dark to almost clear in color. All of the different strains have a slightly different flavor based on what the bees have been feeding on. This jar is one of the darker strains harvested in the late summer.
So go get yourself some local honey and thank the bees and beekeepers who are hard at work supplying us with the best source of sugar there is, HONEY!