Nature | Wellness
Why Does Kiawah River Honey Taste Like Summer? Our Beekeeper Explains.
September is National Honey Month, so it is only fitting that we dedicate a post to the miraculous honeybee and highlight its important role at Kiawah River. Pollenating 80 percent of all the fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S., scientists say that honeybees is responsible for every three bites of food we take. But with bee populations steadily declining, it is our responsibility to appreciate and protect the species for future generations.
Meet apiarist and general bee enthusiast Chuck Hudspeth. A native South Carolinian, Chuck knows firsthand what makes bees tick in the Lowcountry. As Kiawah River’s resident beekeeper, Chuck is responsible for maintaining the six hives around the property, each housing up to 50,000 bees, comprised of one queen, a few hundred drones (male bees) and tens of thousands of worker bees (female bees).
While the backyard beekeeping trend is growing, Chuck warns that people can’t plan for success with bees. Honeybees need a food, or nectar, source to survive, and it is extremely difficult to plant enough of a nectar source for a healthy hive. According to Chuck, a successful hive all comes down to location, location, location. While bees are hearty insects, they can’t survive without a food source.
“When it comes down to it, beekeepers must know the signs of what can go wrong with bees,” said Hudspeth. “It’s all a matter of intuition and failure. I’ve learned very little by success in this business.”
Just like grapes with wine, Hudspeth explains, a honey’s taste is a direct result of a bee’s nectar source.
“In Charleston, we’re blessed to have so many nectar sources that make our honey unique year-round,” said Hudspeth. “Some people don’t know that palmetto is actually a grass. It blooms in the summertime and makes some of the best honey in the world behind sourwood and tupelo honeys.”
So what does Kiawah River honey taste like? It all depends on what is blooming at the time. In the fall and summer, Kiawah River honey holds a special blend of the flowering plants in the area. In the fall, Lowcountry honeybees gather goldenrod and other wildflowers while the spring attracts bees to flowering plants and ornamentals such as lantana, and confederate jasmine. In the upstate, honeybees gather from flowering trees, which results in a nuttier, more buttery taste than the floral undertones of Lowcountry honey.
Honeybees are the only insect that produce food for humans. Just to make one pound of honey, a colony must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles and will be the lifetime work of 768 bees. In fact, a single honeybee only produces 1/12 of one teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
Aside from honey, bees will play a big part in the success of Kiawah River’s farm crops. “If bees don’t pollinate tender plants like squash, cucumbers and strawberries, they won’t grow properly,” said Hudspeth.
In addition, honey’s natural antimicrobial and antioxidant properties can help fight bacteria when combined with other nutrients. With flu season around the corner, here is one of our favorite honey concoctions to combat colds and coughs. When you feel a cold coming on, simply stir two teaspoons of the mixture into hot water.
Cold & Cough-fighting Honey Mixture
2 lemons, sliced into round pieces
2 three-inch pieces of fresh ginger, chopped
Place the lemon and ginger in a mason jar in alternating layers. Pour honey over the mixed ingredients, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator.
Honey Dijon Salmon
Looking for an easy weeknight recipe for the whole family? Try one of our favorite honey-filled recipes, courtesy of Naptime Kitchen’s Kate Strickler:
2 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp avocado mayo
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 salmon fillets
Mix all ingredients together, except for the salmon. Using a mini brush, coat the top of the salmon with the mixture. Place the salmon on a baking sheet with a piece of foil underneath. Do not spray the foil – the salmon skin sticks to the foil and makes for an easy slide underneath the fish, leaving the skin behind. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.