Honey Garden Apiaries

Humans have harvested honey, our oldest sweetener, for thousands of years. As recently as 100 years ago, honey was still typically sold as a raw and unheated product, which tended to crystallize within a month of its harvest. Although gentle warming easily returns crystallized honey to a liquid state, modern honey production methods strive to keep most super-market honey in its liquid form for as long as one year by introducing heating and filtration steps that also strip most of the nutritional value from the finished product. Honey Garden Apiaries, a direct-to-consumer producer of raw honey in Hinesburg, Vermont, still harvests its products the old-fashioned way. Its final product retains traces of pollen, beeswax and “propolis” (a resinous substance made from leaves and tree bark) within the honey, all of which add healthful minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids.

“There’s a greater appreciation these days of raw honey, propolis, pollen, and all of the herbs and medicinal plants that we work with, which is very encouraging,” says Todd Hardie, owner of Honey Garden Apiaries.

Beyond its raw honey production, Hardie’s company also sells a line of therapeutic health and beauty products. A propolis-based spray treats sore throats, the goldenrod honey facial mask nourishes the skin, and Honey Garden Apiaries' honey wild cherry syrup is useful as a respiratory relaxant, anti-inflammatory agent, and cough suppressant.

In addition, Honey Garden Apiaries is working on a number of long-term projects to make the bee-keeping operation even more sustainable. Hardie says his company recently began repopulating the countryside near his honey gardens with organically grown native elderberry plants (on which the bees can feast) to keep the honey as organic as possible.

Future plans include development of an onsite biodiesel (fuel made from vegetable oil) production facility to cut emissions on Honey Garden Apiaries' diesel vehicles, saving fossil fuels and clearing the air.

—Andrew Korfhage