Hey there, John Berdux here, CEO & Co-Founder of Apis Mercantile and fanatic of wildflower honey. During my college years, I was fortunate enough to live in a house in downtown Charleston, SC, that included Liam (co-founder) as a roommate. Everyone in the house seemed to have an interesting hobby: Liam restored surfboards, another roommate, Matt, kept a garden and brewed beer. I did some reading on beekeeping and thought it was an interesting backyard hobby to take on.
So, I started with two hives in the backyard and was hooked on bees and honey from that point on. One of the coolest things about honeybees is that they can fly nearly six miles away from their hive. While the bees are capable of flying that far, they mostly stay in a 1-2 mile radius, so our bees were covering a good part of the downtown peninsula. Bees are incredibly important to the health and well-being of local flora, and they serve an important role as a pollinator like butterflies and hummingbirds. I sold some of the first honey I harvested to local restaurants and gave it away to friends. After that first year of beekeeping, I joined a few clubs and continued learning about bees and honey.
Since then, we have grown in our love for our products. Our passion and dedication is what drives us to develop Charleston local wildflower honey that is beloved by our South Carolina community. It is a joy and privilege to be able to share our love for raw wildflower honey and its benefits with the Lowcountry.
What is Wildflower Honey?
The first question to clarify is: what even is a wildflower? A wildflower is the flower of a plant that grows on its own in nature without human intervention. Experts estimate over 20,000 species of flowering plants exist in North America alone, belonging to about 300 different families. Wildflower honey is made when bees draw nectar from this wide variety of flowers and blossoms.
Since the flowers grow naturally without deliberate cultivation, there’s no way to ensure consistency in the honey’s flavor profile. In other words, it is difficult to predict exactly what wildflower honey will even look or taste like. Our bees sit on land that has many different types of blossoms, and they likely collect nectar from other flowers within a certain radius. Wildflower honey is also called “polyfloral” for that reason, because it comes from such a spread of nectar sources.
What's Special about Charleston Wildflower Honey?
One of the coolest things about local wildflower honey is that all of its characteristics are a reflection of the nectar sources from which the bees collected to make the honey. I like to tell people that honey is a lot like wine. The region in which the honey is harvested, the flowers from which the bees collect from, and even the minerality of the soil can all impact the honey’s flavor profile.
Our Southern Wildflower Honey is harvested from bee yards throughout the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Pure wildflower honey will vary from batch-to-batch, depending on what plants were blooming during the pollination process. It is a true reflection of the rich and vast floral world in the Lowcountry. I really cannot think of a food product more representative of Charleston than Charleston-harvested, raw wildflower honey.
What Does Raw Wildflower Honey Taste Like?
Our Charleston local wildflower honey is sweet and complex, a reflection of the Lowcountry flora and surrounding areas. The flavor will vary slightly from season-to-season because the flavor stems from the nectar source, which varies depending on what is in bloom. The honey’s smoky flavor lends itself well to use in barbeque sauces or braises, Asian food preparations, baked goods, salad dressings, and of course as a sweetener for tea.
Even though there’s no way to predict exactly what each jar will taste like, wildflower honey will generally taste light and fruity, like a clover honey or orange blossom honey. It is one of the best all-around honeys to drop in your tea, mix into your smoothie, or drizzle over a breakfast treat. Just remember that pure wildflower honeys could taste light, floral, bold, smoky, etc. The flavor profiles will vary based on the floral regions and the time of year harvested.
Is Wildflower Honey Healthy?
For years, honey has been a pantry staple, commonly used as a natural sweetener in tea or to fight off a sore throat. However, the health benefits only come if the honey used is truly raw wildflower honey. Pasteurized or ultra-filtrated honey loses most of the natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in wildflower honey. Untreated, unheated, pure honey will always retain the pollen gathered by, and the propolis secreted by, honey bees.
Our local Charleston honey has a tremendous amount of day-to-day health benefits, including the following:
Allergy season is rough in Charleston; raw local honey acts as an anti-allergen by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the cell membranes that trigger reactions.
The addition of honey and salt to water can restore electrolytes and increase energy by rehydrating the body to fuel athletic performance.
When applied topically to cuts or burns, honey works to kill bacteria and disinfect the wound. It also acts as a natural bandage when it dries.
As an antibacterial, honey helps to balance the bacteria in skin making it a prime candidate for a natural acne treatment. It is also a natural exfoliant to remove dead skin.
As a prebiotic, honey works to promote a healthy gut by nourishing the good bacteria in the intestines, which is imperative for digestion and overall health.
Consuming a spoonful of honey in tea or on its own at bedtime will help the body and mind relax, to promote a restful, rejuvenative sleep.
Why Is It Important to Support Local Beekeepers?
Supporting beekeepers of any size, whether they are commercial, sideliner, or backyard beekeepers that use sustainable and ethical beekeeping practices is one of the best ways to save the honeybee population. Since the mid-2000s, there has been a lot of media attention surrounding the declining honey bee population, and supporting sustainable beekeeping practices is one of the best ways to combat the population decline.
A few years ago, I started collecting honey from places that I travel. I have a collection of cool jars from markets all over the world that hold honey in different shades and flavor profiles. It makes for a great souvenir, and it's one of my favorite ways to support local beekeepers wherever I travel. This hobby inspired our Regional Wildflower line of honey in which we partner with beekeepers in different geographic regions of the United States. So far, we have a Southern Wildflower, Mid-Atlantic Wildflower, and New England Wildflower. It's cool to taste them back-to-back to really get a taste for the subtle differences between each one.
If you want to learn more about our honey and our relationships with beekeepers, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us here for more information!