There is a sweet new project underway near Galata, Cyprus. The goal is to produce the highest quality honey. This is not easy for many reasons... like the local antibiotics and pesticides that are used. Not to mention climate change.
This venture will lift honey production to a whole new level of accountability and the highest of standards. Considering how much fake honey is flooding the world’s supermarkets—around eighty percent—it seems that this is the perfect time to introduce high standards and get people thinking about what quality they are buying and consuming. And since so many bees are fed sugar now, as you would expect they produce syrup, not honey.
This project has some key players: world-renowned apiarist Dominique Micheletto, who is experienced in the rare art of studying bee psychology and has been a beekeeper for 40 years, along with his student Vladimir Kiourdjiev, and a local business man who is passionate about nature, Chrysantos Hadjiyiannis. Nicolas Netien, French environmental engineer, is the manager of the project. He indicates this new project has been planned well and carefully executed even though pesticides, climate change and pollution have been challenging. Netien plans to bottle the first honey this week.
This unrelated 7:05-minute video by Cyclades Chamber shares facts about beekeeping in ancient and modern Greece:
Getting it all right is costly and laborious and requires a good knowledge of bee behavior as well as chemical analysis. Full transparency is required, according to the engineer, so they intend to produce the world’s first totally traceable honey. This has never been done before.
To start, the team builds their own hives, uses their own wax, and breeds their own queens. Then they move the hives around a lot. This gives them complete control of the project. The team only work with the gentlest of bees. They don’t even have to wear protective clothing but can work in t-shirts. The bees are so docile because of a process of selection over many years of the best queen and by using insemination. There are many bee breeds, some known to be aggressive while some are gentle. As can be studied here at BeeSource, this is a proven method that works, and breeding can significantly change bee behavior over time.
Despite the high quality of the bees Netien and his team are working with, there are many local hazards. For instance, although the agricultural ministry stated earlier this year that spraying products that are toxic to bees was to be avoided during flowering times, few listened. Netien said there is no reason for this, except farmers say that bees spread disease, which is untrue. Then there are antibiotics, which can be found everywhere in the food chain. When bees drink water from near animal farms, it can be contaminated with manure that contains antibiotics since farmers give it to their cows and pigs. And then there is climate change, which is hard to tackle since bees get confused. It may get hot without humidity, and then suddenly turn cold with plenty of humidity. Bees don’t know when to work or when to stop. This is where deep knowledge of bees and beekeeping is important.
The honey that will be produced by the new company, Apianthos, contains zero sugar because the bees are only fed their own honey all winter long. Whereas most beekeepers collect honey twice per year, this specialist team collects after each blossom. This ensures that it comes only from the area where the bees are currently pollinating.
This way, Netien and his team produce six distinctly and uniquely different types of honey: eucalyptus and orange, thyme, cherry, plum and apricot, spring, summer and sumac.
The pollen analysis allows these producers to use these specific terms on the labels by law. When you scan one of their jars, you see the results of the many studies that went into their honey production. The chemical analyses they rely on shows what problems are encountered. For example, regarding pesticides, it might be that an entire hive must be destroyed when traces of toxicants are detected.
The upside is that when everything is done correctly, the earth and food diversity assure that the result can be an amazing quality of honey. They say, for instance, that the flavor of thyme is much better in Cyprus than in Crete.
They have about 150 hives now and intend to grow by sharing their philosophy. Their honey will be available for sale online in Cyprus, and their website is under construction. Their goal is not just to make a profit, but to help others do the right thing and be transparent. They will train other beekeepers and pull together resources, according to Netien.
In this way, pollinators that are so crucial to humanity’s food chain are helped to be in their most vital state so they can produce the highest quality of honey. We at Bee Mission hope this philosophy spreads far and wide. Sweet transparency.