We were on our way back from Bennington the other day, when I saw the sign in front of a small house, “Honey For Sale.”
“Stop!” I yelled, and we pulled into the driveway. We could see some hives in the backyard. Next to the sign stood a neat wooden cubby, with a cash box and a note explaining that purchases were based on the honor system. There were five-pound jars of honey, and lovely ocher-colored beeswax candles, and some plastic boxes full of honeycomb.
We bought two big jars and a pair of candles, and drove off with me feeling unaccountably happy. I suppose one reason was the serendipitous nature of the find: we weren\’t looking for honey, or candles, that particular day, yet there they were, in all their sudden glory. And the other reason is that we were doing something for the bees. Local honey is not always easy to find, nor are beeswax candles. Yet the best way to help keep colony collapse at bay is to patronize local bee keepers.
Local honey isn\’t cheap. That day we paid $3.20/lb. At Sam\’s, honey from the other end of the earth costs $1.92/lb. I was brought up to be a frugal shopper, to calculate price per pound, to buy the supermarket house brand whenever possible. So observing the “buy local” injunction is taking considerable readjustment on my part. It\’s a good thing I grow my own vegetables, because I don\’t think I could bring myself to pay the prices at the farmer\’s market.
But bees are a different matter. I\’ve been gardening outdoors for three months now, and I\’ve seen wasps and bumblebees galore, but not a single honeybee. The bees need help. Plus, they are charming and mysterious and produce, literally, sweetness and light. If you take all that into account, local honey is a bargain.