About our Honey Products!
Pure, raw honey!
Our honey is not pasteurized - we don't even use a heated knife to extract our honey. We never heat our honey over natural hive temperatures, and we only filter it minimally to remove wax particles. We strain the honey through a 400-600 micron mesh, which allows the pollen to filter through into the bottled honey. The honey that you purchase from your local grocery store could have been ultra-filtered and pasteurized, which removes the healthful benefits. This honey may be bottled in the United States, but originated from a foreign country without honey-extracting/storage ethics, or possibly is adulterated with additional ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup.
April 15, 2021, update: We have sold out of the Linden/Basswood, Black Locust, Clover and Indianola Wildflower varietals. We do have Des Moines Wildflower honey that is available. We will harvest our honey in late July - keep checking back to see what nectar the bees gather this year!
We often get asked how we can offer and know the varietal of honey. As a beekeeper, it is important to know the honey-producing trees and plants that are available within a three mile radius of your apiary, as well as understand the bloom period of each of those trees and plants. We harvest the honey right after a specific tree or plant that produces abundant nectar has completed a blooming period. While our honey is never mono-floral, as it is impossible to state the bees only visited one species of flower, the varietal name indicates the primary nectar source plants the bees were foraging on at the time of surplus honey production. Our liquid honey is never flavored or infused with additional ingredients. (Please note that we do prepare a creamed honey in which we add freeze-dried fruit or cinnamon powder to the concoction.)
For instance, linden trees typically bloom the first two weeks in July. After the trees have completed the blooming period, we pull the honey frames from the hive, and harvest. We replace the full honey frames with empty frames, thereby allowing the bees to bring in nectar from the next blooming plant.
At our Runnels apiary, where there are Black Locust trees within a three-mile radius of our apiary, and during the years the Black Locust trees have a prolific bloom in early June, we pull the honey frames after the trees complete the bloom period. We can't always offer this varietal, as many times in early June, the bees are still focused on building the colony to a robust population. In addition, the Black Locust does not bloom every year; therefore, we are never sure if we will be able to offer this honey from year to year. However, when possible, we will harvest the honey after the Black Locust trees have bloomed if the bees have collected sufficient honey to warrant the work. Black locust honey is delectable; it is a very light, mild distinctive honey, and is worth the additional effort. Black Locust honey is this author's favorite honey!
Many beekeepers wait until August to extract; in doing so, the honey is mixed and typically just called wildflower honey. Extracting several times throughout the summer is labor intensive; but, we love the experience and the ability to offer our customers the opportunity to enjoy several types of honey.
Our recommendation is if you find a varietal that you love, buy enough to supply yourself for the upcoming year. Our varietals, especially the black locust and wildflower honey, sell out very quickly. We have found our customers get disappointed when they found a honey they love, and have to wait months to restock their supply. Since our harvest is focused during June, July and August, it may be months before the honey is available again.
Our 2020 harvest produced five different varietals.
Black Locust Honey
The honey is extremely light colored, lemonish white or yellow-green. The aroma is floral, fruity, delicate, very persistent. The flavor is very sweet, slightly acidic with hints of vanilla and no aftertaste. The flowery notes are noticed best in the finish.
This honey has a mild taste in comparison to our other varietals. It is delicate, and you can definitely pull the vanilla flavor, and it has no aftertaste whatsoever. This honey is excellent, and not available every year, as the Black Locust trees flower sporadically.
Des Moines Apiary
When very fresh it has a greenish color, but after a time it becomes clear to amber with a yellow tone. The aroma is described as woody and fresh, also described as mint. It has low acidity, medium sweet. The honey has an aftertaste and is slightly astringent.
This is not our typical Linden honey – it has a milder flavor this year. We believe the reason is due to the smaller volume of flowers produced by the Linden trees in our neighborhood. As noted in a recent blog, the lower part of the trees never bloomed this year, however, I have observed that the top portion of the trees flowered. The decreased nectar availability produced a milder taste than last year’s honey. It's is a multi-floral varietal, with the Linden nectar instilling a minty tang. This is also an excellent varietal.
Des Moines Apiary
We have wildflower honey available from two different apiaries this year. Most of our customers are familiar with the honey available from our Des Moines apiary - it has a robust flavor as a result of multiple florals available along the Des Moines river, as well as the native florals planted on our property - the native Agastache on our property adds a unique flavor to this honey, and has been a long-standing favorite of many customers.
New this year is wildflower honey from our Indianola apiary. Our colonies are located on a friend's property - the land is in conservation, and we are ecstatic with the honey that was produced from this location. It is the sweetest honey we have ever tasted, and fairly mild in comparison to our Des Moines wildflower honey. We plan on putting more colonies in this location next year.
This honey was produced at our Runnell's apiary, and is sooooo good. The honey has a clean, mild taste, and pairs well with just about everything! Our friend has a farmstead, and maintains clover fields - we know you will love it!
This is probably the most common honey that is available on the market. Here is the reason why it is so abundant:
The USDA provides incentives for farmers in many states to cultivate their unused or marginal land, soil that is too poor quality—too arid or too erodible, say—to otherwise yield a profit. The goal is to reduce erosion, improve water quality, and provide wildlife habitat. Simply put, the government “rents” about 25 million acres of land, under 10- or 15-year contracts at market prices, in exchange for the landowners’ commitment to enrich it. Sweet clover, it turns out, is just right for the job.
April 15, 2021, update: We are very low on comb honey and only have 1 square of Just Iowa Honey linden honey comb left until we harvest again in late July. We will be selling a friend's wildflower comb honey - we trust his beekeeping standards and feel comfortable offering his comb honey to our customers. He produces comb honey in a round container, called a Ross Round, which weighs between 9 and 10 ounces.
We have comb honey! Comb honey is honey at its most purest state. This is how honey was packaged before extractors were invented around 1865. If you want a unique and authentic culinary experience, then try our comb or chunk honey products!
There are various tasty ways that comb honey can be eaten. You can take a chunk right out of the comb and eat it. It is delicious sliced on top of your favorite ice cream, sliced and placed on top of your fruit and cereal in the morning or sliced over a warm muffin or pancakes. With a knife, cut a chunk of comb honey and spread it over the warm food. You may have to mash it a bit, but the heat will soften the comb so it flattens into the food along with the honey. It doesn’t melt, but becomes soft and aromatic.
Comb honey is tantalizing on a cheese grazing board. See the Perfect Cheeseboard recipe on the Recipes tab. Place on a wholegrain cracker with a piece of blue cheese or a strong cheddar, and add a pecan to top it off. Comb honey will compliment any cheese to create a unique gourmet treat. The upscale restaurants often serve comb honey in the center of a plate surrounded by a selection of expensive cheeses and multi-grain crackers. The idea is to cover the cracker with a piece of cheese and top it off with a small chunk of comb. This works great with cheddar or brie, but any cheese will work. Add your favorite nut to the concoction!
We have converted our business to glassware. Glass is environmentally friendly, and healthier for our customers. Honey has an indefinite shelf-life; after reading that plastic bottles that are BPA-free can potentially have leaching of chemicals into food products, we elected to use glassware for our products. We recommend that you utilize a honey dipper for dispensing your honey from the glassware.
Raw honey will also eventually crystallize - the timing depends on the glucose in the honey. The glassware provides the opportunity to heat your honey over a low heat to liquefy the honey.
Upon request, we can bottle our honey in either 1 pound, 2 pound plastic queen-line bottles or in a 3 or 5 pound plastic container. If you are shipping honey, the plastic container reduces the shipping cost. In addition, when purchasing our volume discount mason jars, we offer a plastic bottle for your convenience.
Be an Environmental Steward
If you return a honey glass container to us, we will discount a future purchase by 25 cents! If the bottle is a half-gallon mason jar, we will discount a future purchase by 50 cents! We sterilize the containers with cleaning agents approved for use in commercial food-preparation.
Note: We no longer take back the elderberry bottles. This was a tough decision because we desire to be environmental stewards, but the bottles are difficult to clean, and we wanted to ensure we were protecting our customers.