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What does it take to produce organic honey?

Is there such a thing?

I don't treat my hives for anything, and I don't feed sugar. Other than that I have no control over what they feed on....
 

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Maybe it's too simplistic to say, but if they don't forage on organic sources then the honey they produce isn't organic. That said though, symantically you could say, "Produced In An Organic Manner" or "Produced Without The Use of Artificial Varroa mite Treatments or Antibiotics", I guess.
 

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This was the first thing I found. Goog'd " USDA "organic honey". "

http://brookfieldfarmhoney.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/usda-organic-honey-what-does-it-mean/

One interesting early observation: " Your honey can be certified organic by the US government, although they have no regulations to define organic honey. You got to love the federal government."

Much more applicable info follows.

-------------------------------

In a bit or irony, my wife just came in with a news story via my daughter - Blue "honey" in France, about as inorganic as one might imagine - apparently the bees were raiding the local M&M (candy) plant...
 

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It would be nice to know more about what is considered Organic.:scratch:
I know there are no crops with in 10 miles or more from my home hives as I live in part of the National Forest.
And yes I have checked on Google Earth.
I check all my potential yards so I know what is out there.
I get a very dark honey here and the locals love it.:applause:
 

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I tend to agree with this author's assessment in Scientific American :

Organic honey isn’t impossible. It’s just beyond of the ability of most beekeepers. Bee yards situated in isolated spots deep in the Adirondacks, or mountain valleys in sparsely-populated New Mexico, can probably pull off honey free of agrochemicals. Most beekeepers operate within a bee’s flight of pesticides, however, making “organic” honey an illusory proposition.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/compound-eye/2011/08/11/organic-honey-is-a-sweet-illusion/
 

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There is no honey made deep in the Adirondacks. No significant amount anyway. And if it is it is made one farm land. There are farms deep in the Adirondacks.
 

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Funny this thread erupted the same day my wife asked me the same question. My answer, there is no way I can know where my bees have been. Although situated on 500 acres of bee bliss, that is organic, whos to say the neighboring properties arent offering something more appealing at any given moment. G
 

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Can't be certified as "organic" down here far as I know, and it pisses me off that some still claim it to be! If you can guarantee that everything your bees forage on (in their known 5 mile range) is organic, then submit it for testing. People question me all the time why I only call my honey "wildflower". I can share with them what was in bloom...ie avocado, mango, Brazilian pepper, etc...but bottom line, I can't tell my girls to just harvest the mango or avocado nectar....hence...Wildflower. I sure don't try to claim it to be "organic"... but I CAN claim it to be all natural, pure....

As you, I don't treat, and I don't feed...the rest is up to the girls...therefore, I will ALWAYS market as LOCAL RAW Wildflower Honey. (I can contribute what big bloom contributed to the harvest...and often they taste the suggestion...) ;) I still play it safe, and just sell "Raw Natural Wildflower Honey".

Truly... check your local honey laws. May likely be in "Cottage Food Laws"... Don't get yourself in trouble from the get-go.
 

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If the term "organic" is to have any real meaning in the context of beekeeping, I would think it should refer to the the way the bees are kept, not what they forage on. Otherwise, there is no way of knowing for sure. Just by way of example, there isn't a place on the planet where strontium 90 (an isotope produced by the testing of fission weapons) isn't present in the entire food chain. It can be easily detected in the teeth of ALL people born since the early 60's. So, if you interpret the term "organic" narrowly, to mean completely free of man-made compounds, there isn't ANY "organic" food. ANYWHERE.


Cheers
 

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So, it would be wrong to label any product of one's hives as being organic. But, one could say "Produced from organically managed beehives.", right?
 

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So, it would be wrong to label any product of one's hives as being organic. But, one could say "Produced from organically managed beehives.", right?
Well, yes, but I really think it depends on how narrowly you define the term. Webster's defines organic (in this context, which is a relatively new usage) as

3
a (1) : of, relating to, or derived from living organisms <organic evolution> (2) : of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides <organic farming> <organic produce>
By this definition, if your management excludes the use of these things, your honey would be "organic". Some people of course would define it more narrowly, to take into account any forage though it be beyond the control of the beekeeper.

In the end, labels like this are inadequate to their purpose, which is to allow people to make "informed choices" without ever bothering to inform themselves. For example, I have many fruit producing trees, and I use no pesticides, at all, and as a result I have pests. So I have some insect and fungal damage. There is no way to avoid it. But the "certified organic" label allows for the use of many chemicals (such as copper sulphate for fungal control, the list is actually very long). The "organic" produce many people buy? I am sorry, but it would NEVER pass the strict definition that some want to adopt for the production of honey. If you don't use ANY chemicals, you will have SOME insect and fungal damage. Yet I have never seen insect damaged produce at a place like Whole Foods. Ever.

Just some thoughts. Not saying what it right or wrong, just pointing out the futility of trying to reduce a complex issue into one word.

Cheers
 

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@Mark - small quantities of honey - less than you make - can be marketed as organic without having to prove the standards are met. Someone seeking organic certification of their honey will need to find a certifying group (MOFGA for Maine) and will need to show that all of the land that the bees could forage on meets organic standards 100%. One neighbor using Weed and Feed on their lawn will stop you cold.

As an alternative consider Certified Naturally Grown - a standard that has requirements for how you treat your bees but not what the bees have available to them for foraging.

While every beekeeper wants to produce as clean and natural a honey as possible, "organic" or "CNG" designations may give a marketing advantage. They are not without paperwork and expense though. Where I have yet to have a customer ask me what might be in the honey residue wise (plenty have asked what the primary floral source is) I have not thought pursuing certification worth anything for me.
 

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I've never believed that anyone could truly certify any hone to be organic. Another thought is to raise the under the "Certified Naturally Grown" program. Here's the link: http://www.naturallygrown.org/
 

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Discussion Starter #16
davek, the link doesn't work. I am interested to find out more about the CNG.
 

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If anyone had bothered to Gogle Organic standards for honey they would have found that the federal government can and will fine you up to $10,000 for putting the word "organic" on your label UNLESS you have paid one of their approved testing companies a lot of money to come out and examine your location.
Their requirements include no residential, industrial, agricultural or commercial activities within a two mile radius of your location. An additional 2 mile radius is to be monitored for pesticide sprays and chemical usage. So you can have nothing but pasture/woods within 4 miles of your location.
I know of a couple of locations that will qualify but the government already owns the land and will not permit anyone to have hives there because they are environmentally sensitive areas.
"Certified Naturally Grown" is a low cost way to imply that your honey is organic.
 
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