Honeybee Festival Takes Place June 3

Slow Food Utah’s annual Honeybee Festival celebrates bees and honey. photo by the National Honey Board

Slow Food Utah presents the annual Honeybee Festival to bring together local beekeepers, wanna-bees, foodies and bee enthusiasts Saturday, June 3, 2017 at the Sorenson Unity Center, 1383 South 900 West in Salt Lake City.

From 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., there will be live beehive demonstrations, backyard beekeeping workshops, local artisan honey tastings, and children’s activities and crafts. The event is free to the public.

Why celebrate honeybees? They are the unsung heroes of the world’s supply, and their declining numbers are a cause for concern.
An estimated one of every three bites of food is dependent on pollination provided by bees, said Gwen Crist of Slow Food Utah, the group that sponsors the annual festival. Bees pollinate  fruit and nut trees, melons, vegetables, and field crops such as alfalfa.

A few years ago, I covered the Honeybee Festival for the Deseret News, and there were some interesting workshops on how to get started in beekeeping, and what kinds of flowers to plant in your yard to help bees. Vendors sold honey products, books, and beekeeping equipment.

Samples of wild honey on artisan cheese were offered at a past Honeybee Festival on backyard beekeeping.

At the time, Crist told me, “Bees are really in trouble now, with diseases and Colony Collapse Disorder. From a food perspective we would like to see the preservation of bees. From a flavor perspective, bees add to our diversity of food with more flavor and variety, and of course, honey tastes good.”

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures, the number of managed honey beehives is half of what it was in the 1950s. Beginning in 2006, beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. This mysterious phenomenon has been termed Colony Collapse Disorder, where worker bees abruptly disappear from their hives.

Some resources for beekeeping enthusiasts and wanna-bees:
National Honey Board at www.honey.com
Utah’s Own lists honey producers in Utah
Frank Whitby’s Beekeeping blog at www.bees202.wordpress.com:
Wasatch Beekeepers Association at www.wasatchbeekeepers.com
Utah Beekeepers Association http://www.utahbeekeepers.com
Utah County Beekeepers Association, http://www.utahcountybeekeepers.org/

You don’t have to raise bees in order to help them. Planting some of these native plants in your yard offers good sources of nectar or pollen that help to sustain bees.
Black-eyed Susan
Creosote bush
Joe-pye weed
Oregon grape
Purple coneflower (echinacea)
Wild buckwheat
Source: Slow Food Utah


Raw Honey: This is generally regarded as honey that is unheated, unpasteurized, and unprocessed. Most supermarket-style honey has been pasteurized (heated at 161 degrees F, degrees Celsius or more, followed by rapid cooling) and filtered so that it looks cleaner and smoother, more appealing on the shelf, and is easier to handle and package. Pasteurization kills any yeast cell in the honey and prevents fermentation. It also slows down the speed of crystallization in liquid honey. On the downside, when honey is heated, its delicate aromas, yeast and enzymes are partially destroyed. Hence, raw honey is assumed to be more nutritious than honey that has undergone heat treatment. Raw, unfiltered honey looks milkier and may contain particles and flecks of bee pollen, honeycomb bits, and broken bee wing fragments. It also granulates quickly. You can re-liquefy it by putting the jar in a hot water bath.  In March 2011, the Utah Legislature passed a state law to define and regulate the labeling of “raw honey” as “honey that as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling, or straining, that is minimally processed and not pasteurized.” The honey can be heated to a lower temperature and still be labeled as “raw.”
Comb Honey – Comb honey is honey in its original form; that is, honey inside of the honeycomb.  The beeswax comb is edible.
Cut Comb – Cut comb honey is liquid honey that has added chunks of the honey comb in the jar. This is also known as a liquid-cut comb combination.
Liquid Honey – Free of visible crystals, liquid honey is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. Most of the honey produced in the United States is sold in liquid form.
Naturally Crystallized Honey – Naturally crystallized honey is honey in which part of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized.  It is safe to eat.
Whipped (or Cremed) Honey – While all honey will crystallize in time, whipped honey (also known as cremed honey) is brought to market in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter or jelly.

— Information from the National Honey Board