In some recent posts to two mailing lists I regularly read, BEE-L and beekeeping, there was an article posted about the Himachal Pradesh government encouraging the production of ‘sugar free’ honey. If you read the article they seem to be telling a much bigger story without meaning to, and also demonstrate a severe lack of knowlege about beekeeping.
It’s not enough that the market is already flooded with cheap, poor quality honey (that probably actually is honey), but the Himachal Pradesh government admits that beekeepers in that country are producing honey by feeding their bees sugar, at least in lean years. I’m not sure how they are getting away with producing and presumingly selling honey produced from sugar as no legal definition of honey I’m aware of would classified sugar syrup stored in comb as honey.
The sad part is that the most important attributes of honey to packers are it’s color and water content. And dry, water white honey (the lightest color on the scale) typically brings in the highest price. Something easily produced from feeding sugar syrup, if you could call it honey at all.
Perhaps I’m reading into it too much assuming that this sugar produced honey is being sold. But then why would the government want beekeepers to switch production methods to produce another product intended for sale?
I’m not sure if bees would even care about stevia. They may be tricked by it’s sweet taste, but a hive fed only stevia when other food sources aren’t availabe is sure to starve because it lacks any significant value as a carbohydrate. Certainly they would still have to be fed some sugar syrup along with the stevia just to stay alive, which would also mean their ‘sugar free honey’ would not be ‘sugar free’ or ‘honey’. So much for truth in advertizing! Hopefully the Himachal Pradesh government has done enough hard research on this before they invest in some 100,000 behives that are sure to be doomed.
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