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The continued decline of bee colonies — they fell by a third from 2016 to 2017 — has inspired some criminal enterprises.
A honeybee heist in California led to the discovery of a “beehive chop shop” and thieves scheming to pinch pollinators.
And then there’s honey. “Foods that can’t be differentiated by sight will often be faked, and honey fills the bill,” writes Larry Olmsted, who investigated food fraud for a book.
Complex global trades can obscure the true source — and composition — of the gooey goods in our cupboards. So when we buy a bottle or a bear, how do we know we’re getting the good stuff?
- Kim Flottum Editor, Bee Culture Magazine
- Eric Wenger Chairman, True Source Honey
- Margarita Lopez-Uribe Assistant professor of entomology, Penn State University; she studies how environmental changes impact the bee population.
- Gene Brandi Past president, current board member at the American Beekeeping Federation; owner, Gene Brandi Apiaries
How To Make Sure Your Honey Is Real
1. Inspect the label. By law, it must include the honey’s country of origin. The highest-quality honey typically comes from Argentina, Canada, and the United States. And as for the location of the packer: if it’s a distant place you’ve never heard of, that’s a red flag.
2. Look for a stamp of approval. Certification programs like True Source Honey investigate honey supply chains abroad. If honey passes the test, you’ll be able to tell by the certified logo on the label.
3. Do your research. If you’re curious about a honey product or ingredient, you can call the collector or manufacturer and find out more information.
4. Check out your local farmer’s market. That way, you can talk to the beekeeper in person.
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