Indiana Honey

Black Locust Honey
Black locust honey is one of the most popular honeys produced in Indiana

Beekeeping has been present in Indiana since the state was founded in the 1800s, and the industry only grew ever since. In 2019 the state had produced almost 500,000 pounds of honey from over 9,000 colonies. Locust Honey and Clover Honey are some of the most popular kinds of honey available in Indiana.

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    When Did Indiana Begin Producing Honey?

    By the time Indiana was founded in the early 1800s, regional honey bees had already established themselves as high producers of honey. White sugar is rare and often prohibitively expensive when it could be found.

    State pioneers turned to maple syrup as a passable alternative, though its extraction and production were labour-intensive and required investments in equipment and storage. By the time it reached the average consumer, it too could be quite expensive.

    Bee trees grew wild throughout the Hoosier State, and when those early settlers discovered the riches of abundant honey, it provided a welcome treat that could be had a far less effort and expense than syrup.

    In addition to the honey, they supplied as a sweetener, the wax from the hive was also collected and used to make candles, lubricants, polish, and other commercial products. Propolis, also known as bee glue, was produced to fight off infections and speed of the healing of all kinds of wounds.

    Bee hunters would go out in search of active bee trees and bait them using sugar water. A single foraging bee would discover the tasty treat while looking for nectar and pollen. That bee would return with other members of the hive. The bee hunters would observe their flight patterns leading right back to the hive.

    By the mid-19th century, beekeeping was becoming more popular and with successful commercial beekeepers popping up throughout the state. In the decades that followed, large apiaries were created, housing hundreds of colonies that extracted tons of honey every year.

    Today, beekeeping is an active industry in Indiana with several large apiaries and many more individual beekeepers supplying honey all over the state.

    Close Up Of Western Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) Pollinating
    Western honey bee has been present in Indiana since the early 19th century

    How Much Honey Does Indiana Produce?

    Indiana has over 9,000 honey-producing colonies. According to the Indiana Field Office of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the state of Indiana produced almost 500,000 pounds of honey in 2019, an increase of 54 percent over 2018.

    What Are the Main Types of Honey Produced in Indiana?

    Indiana honey bees are responsible for the foundation of a wide range of honey produced throughout the state. The honey locust tree is an Indiana native that provides a large amount of the honey made and old in the state. The honey locust and black locust trees were among those the groups of bee hunters would track. Black locust trees require a specific set of weather conditions and produce nectar for a short period of time. Heavy rains in the spring will often wipe out nectar from these bee trees.

    Locust honey, often referred to as Acacia honey, is mild and lose in acid, making it ideal to use with fresh cheese, yogurt, or ice cream.

    Clover honey is also a popular Indiana honey delicacy. Honey bees use clover as their primary floral source to produce mild, delicious clover honey.

    Are There Any Major Honey Farms or Apiaries in Indiana?

    Here are some of the larger honey sellers and apiaries located throughout Indiana:

    • Eagle Creek Apiary
    • Bee Madness Apiary
    • Indiana Honey Bees
    • Voglund Apiary
    • Wildcat Creek Apiary

    Which Species of Bees Create Indiana Honey?

    Most Indiana honey is produced by the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) and its subspecies. 
    Most beekeepers use Italian honey bees (apis mellifera ligustica), Carniolan honey bees (apis mellifera carnica), Russian honey bees (apis mellifera) or Caucasian honey bees (apis mellifera caucasia).
     
    Russian honey bees are relatively new to Indiana. USDA imported Russian honey bee queens around 15-20 years ago for their parasitic mite resistance. They did some research and then launched breeding programs. They are more resistant and winter hardy but also more aggressive and swarm more readily than Italian honey bees.
    Africanised Bee Pollinating Lavender
    Africanised honey bee feeding on Lavender flowers
    Honey Bee Pollinating Goldenrod
    Western honey be pollinating Goldenrod flowers

    Which Native Plants Produce Indiana Honey?

    Indiana is a lush Midwest state that features hundreds of native plant varieties and species that helps honey bee colonies to grow and thrive. In the summer months, sunflowers can be spotted throughout the Hoosier State, with many sunflower farms specifically designed to help honey populations.

    Other native plants in Indiana that provide ample supplies of pollen and nectar for honey bees include:

    Lavender hyssop Black locust tree
    Purple prairie clover Virginia bluebell
    Stiff goldenrod Sky blue aster
    Black chokeberry Ninebark
    Blue lobelia Wild sweet william

    Beekeeping Today in Indiana

    Bees are an essential part of our ecosystem and a vital component of our food supplies. In 2019, Indiana recognised the value of bees to humans and our planet. Senate Bill 529 was signed into legislation to protect state beekeepers.

    The law prevents local municipalities from placing bans on beekeeping efforts in response to some Indiana cities that attempted to impose ordinances that banned residents from owning beehives.

    The new law comes at a time when bee populations are in danger, with up to a 30 percent reduction in colonies since 2006. Up to a third of the food humans consume relies on honey bee pollination. Severe losses of bee populations could affect crops for blueberries, avocados, strawberries, and other kinds of fresh produce.

    Even with the passing of the new law prohibiting the banning of beehives by counties or cities in Indiana, these municipalities can still restrict the numbers and placements of hives on their residents’ properties.

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