Listen Up, Honey: Local Beekeepers Work To Reduce Habitat Loss

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With honeybees and other pollinators struggling against habitat loss, chemical use and virus-transmitting mites, local beekeepers are stepping up to reverse these trends by educating others and bringing sweetness to life as only local, natural honey can.

But don’t pick up a jar or squeeze bottle of honey on your next trip to the supermarket.

“p1″>You never know where that jar comes from, how it’s been processed, how many hands have touched it or what kinds of chemicals were used,” said Glenn Hile, owner of Glenn’s Natural Honey. “A lot of it comes from other countries–China, Argentina, Vietnam–places where they have looser regulations than we do here.”

Hile has about 40 hives scattered across north Fort Wayne and sells honey at farmer’s markets and festivals across the area. In early summer, first comes honey from basswood and locust trees. “It makes a real light honey that has an almost minty flavor to it,” he said. Then comes the clover honey, the alfalfa honey from the Amish farms and the wildflower honey.

“With local honey, you know the beekeeper, you know where it came from and you know how it was handled. You have a lot more confidence in its purity and that it wasn’t treated with chemicals, antibiotics, whatnot,” said Hile.

Like anything else in agriculture, honey depends on the weather, and every year it is a little bit different. Then there are the chemicals, not just insecticides that kill bees, Hile said, but weed killers. People want grass free of dandelion and clover, but “as far as bees are concerned, grass might as well be a parking lot or desert. There’s nothing there for the bees to eat,” he said.

Glenn’s Natural Honey, 3924 Spanish Trail, 260.433.4297. Other Fort Wayne honey purveyors include: Southwest Honey Company, 260.609.2897, southwesthoney.com; Atom Acres Family Farm, 4505 Bass Road, 260.445.8186

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