At Appalachian Botanical Co., we always encourage our “conscious consumers” to dig deeper into the products they buy.
Because we prioritize the planet and the people (and insects) who make our products, we invite you to consider the following when purchasing your honey:
- Where was it harvested?
- Do they use pesticides on the flowers it’s harvested from?
- How is it harvested?
- How is it processed?
- Are the workers/harvesters treated fairly and paid a living wage?
- What flavors are they offering?
I always say that you don’t have to be a perfect consumer to be a conscious consumer. So by understanding the full sequence of how your honey products are made from harvest to final drizzle, you’ll gain more appreciation for the product in your hands – AND you’ll discover ways to choose the honeys that agree with your taste and purchasing preferences.
Appalachian Botanical Co’s West Virginian Honey Journey
West Virginia-made products have such a unique fingerprint, especially honey. It’s like a little slice of home, derived from the fruits of the land and the bees who live on it. We gave our bees free range over our 35 acres of organically grown lavender and all the wildflowers that surround our farm. In 2020, we were happy to have our first harvest of 100% organic honey, some mono-floral, and some infused with our lavender. Here is the complete journey behind every jar of our 100% organic honeys.
Where Was It Harvested?
Currently, we are growing lavender on 35 acres of reclaimed coal mine land in Ashford, West Virginia. After our first successful harvest, we created three different types of honeys. Our Lavender Honey, a monofloral variety, was made by the “resident bees” of our 10 hives after they pollinated our lavender plants. To create our delicious and unique Lavender-Infused Wildflower Honey, we combined honey harvested at WV Wilderness Apiaries in Dry Fork, Randolph County with our own lavender buds. Our Lavender-Infused Goldenrod Honey was the last honey harvested in 2020, and its primary flavor derives from the nectar of wild growing goldenrod flowers on our farm and WV Apiaries.
Do You Use Pesticides on the Flowers it’s Harvested From?
At Appalachian Botanical Co., we never use pesticides or other harmful chemicals when growing lavender. We follow organic farming practices and are in the early stages of securing certified organic status. The wildflowers that our bees pollinate are typically found in the wild, with only sunshine and water fueling their flourish.
Is It Sustainably Harvested?
After our bees have gotten fat and happy, we start the harvesting process. Between March and May, we assess the hives to make sure that the bees are healthy and strong after the long winter. Once we’ve determined that the honey is ready to be harvested, our workers, under the guidance of Phyllis Varian of WV Wilderness Apiaries, extracts the honey without harming the bees or their homes. After safely removing the honeycombs, we use a honey centrifuge (AKA a honey spinner) to remove the honey in its purest raw form.
Are the Workers/Harvesters Treated Fairly and Paid a Living Wage?
In addition to taking good care of our bees, we respect our workers and pay them above minimum wage. From on-the-job training, to transportation, to meals, to clothing, to referrals to additional services, we are focused on keeping team lavender strong. When it comes to beekeeping and honey harvesting, Phyllis Varian has trained several workers in the ABCs of beekeeping and we’ll look to train at least two more budding beekeepers in 2021.
How Is It Processed?
Processing is key in the final flavor and quality of your honey. Processing methods include cutting it with corn syrup, crystallizing it to create creamed spreadable honey, or filtering it to remove its pollen. We choose to leave our honeys pure, simple, and unprocessed to capture its most authentic flavors and the greatest health benefits.
What Flavors Does It Have?
It goes without saying that not all honeys are the same! There are so many different varieties, processing methods, and textures to choose from, some people liken the challenge of choosing a honey to that of choosing a wine.
In terms of category, all three of our honeys are in liquid form, also referred to lovingly as “liquid gold.” Our Lavender Honey is a monofloral variety harvested in the mid-summer. It’s very rare to have monofloral honey of any sort, especially lavender here in the US, so it’s highly sought after and sells out quickly. It has a lighter hue and a very delicate flavor attributed solely to the pollen gathered by the bees on our organic lavender farm. Harvested late in the season, Goldenrod honey has a richer and sweeter flavor.
Infusing lavender buds into our Wildflower Honey and Goldenrod Honey gives them a subtle extra layer of flavor and a slight crunch. The infusing of honey entails heating the raw honey between 85-95°F, as higher temperatures tend to destroy the benefits of it. The appropriate amount of lavender buds are then stirred into the honeys. While the mixture remains on the heat source for a determined period of time, the lavender buds will release some of their oil into it. Without straining the buds from the honey the lavender honey is poured into sanitized containers. The buds tend to cluster at the top of the jar, so it’s easy for you to keep the buds or push them to the side in order to go with a bud-free dollop of deliciousness.
With a lovely floral finish after the first indulgent bite of sweetness, both of these honeys will transport you back to memories of summer and sunshine. These floral notes can be traced back to the abundance of West Virginian wildflowers found all throughout the mountains. We’re proud to represent Appalachia with honeys that celebrate its history and the many beautiful flowers and pollinators that live here. You can find all our honeys in our online shop or buy a Honey Duo Gift Set to try both of our infused honeys! We love using honey in everything from desserts, to lattes, salad dressings, and cocktails but we’re always open to new ideas and recipes. Do you have one you’d like to share? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to share how you’re enjoying our products and be featured on our page!
MEET THE AUTHOR / ELIZA TALVOLA is a writer from Pittsburgh, PA who considers herself to be a conscious consumer and traveler, slow fashion advocate, and devoted foodie. She is a firm believer in creative reuse and putting people over profits, and is a long time lavender enthusiast. Her favorite product: Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray