The buzz on honey
812 talked to Southern Indiana Beekeeper Jason Morgan to find out what makes Hoosier honey so sweet.
Spring unfurls in Southern Indiana with patches of wildflowers and swarms of honeybees to pollinate them. Humans have been harvesting their liquid gold for thousands of years, and beekeeping itself dates back to ancient Egypt. Today, following the trend toward sustainable agriculture, more Hoosiers are looking for local honey.
Jason Morgan, a member of the Southern Indiana Beekeepers Association, knows that beekeeping and honey slingin' is all about timing. Honey season is from spring to fall with the first harvest or "sling" in late June. The forage, or food, that the bees eat at different times of year determines the taste of the honey. Early in the season, when honeysuckle blossoms abound, the liquid will have a lighter color and taste. More complex notes arrive with the cooler weather, when plants such as goldenrod add an amber color and pungent flavor to the mix. Though he recommends trying all kinds of honey, Morgan likes to start newcomers with the early spring variety.
Knowledge about the honeybee's habits and life cycle helps beekeepers get the most out of their broods. A good harvest means about 60 to 80 pounds of honey per hive, but it varies from year to year and depends on the bees surviving the cold weather. "In the winter, you're building up your bees to become a foraging force for the spring," Morgan says. When the first locust bloom opens, the real work begins.
The Southern Indiana Beekeepers Association has about 60 regular members and hosts monthly meetings where they share ideas and techniques and give demonstrations. You can find them at farmers' markets throughout the region, answering the questions of curious customers. But even with seasons of experience, Morgan believes there is always more to unearth. "Being able to apply techniques we read and learn about, and then see results, is just fascinating," he says. "You learn something new every day you're in the hives."
Recipe: This sweet sauce can be used for salads, glazes and dips.
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup local, natural honey
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
*Recipe from www.foodnetwork.com