The City Bee and The Country Bee

Why Urban Honey Is More Natural and Better For You

When is the city healthier for you than the countryside? When you’re talking about honey. Of all the foods we eat, few have an ingredient source as difficult to control as honey, making “organic honey” a very difficult commodity to produce and to buy.

In fact, the United States has no official guidelines or requirements to certify honey as “organic.” Europe, on the other hand, has established some very clear and stringent requirements including ensuring ‘essentially organic’ fields within a radius of anywhere from 1.5 miles to 3 miles, depending on the country, from which the bees can gather nectar and pollen.

Maxwell Goldberg, the author of the organic lifestyle blog, LivingMaxWell, did a little digging into the issueand discovered that most organic honey in the US comes from Brazil or Mexico, and is certified to the EU standards. Next time you’re at the market contemplating organic honey, look for imported honey and definitely look on the jar for a seal from an agency.

But what about those city bees? In the absence of acres upon acres of pesticide-free land, bees in the countryside will gather nectar and pollen from nearby fields and meadows likely to have be treated with chemicals. On the other hand, city bees have the luxury of buzzing from window box to roof-top garden to city park, where the flora are far less likely to be steeped in harsh pesticides.

Given the wider variety and closer to year-round availability of pollen and nectar sources, urban bees may also have a better survival rate than rural bees, which is one of the reasons New York City last year legalized beekeeping within its city limits. In 2006, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) began impacting bee colonies in the United States, eventually destroying more than three million colonies in the US and billions of bees around the world. Unlike other creatures bound for extinction, bees play a critical part in our food chain, responsible for pollinating most fruits and vegetables, as well as such crops as coffee, soy beans and alfalfa.

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