Vermont Honey

Wildflower Honey
Wildflower honey is the main kind of honey produced in Vermont

In the mid 19th century Vermont used to be a leading honey-producing state in New England. In the years leading up to 1968 Vermont produced 400,000 to 1,000,000 pounds of honey. Despite the decline in honey production in recent years, due to various factors, Vermont is still a prominent honey-producing state in the US. 

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    When Did the Production of Vermont Honey Begin?

    The Western honey bee was brought to North America by European settlers in the 1600s to pollinate clover fields and provide honey. It is not known when exactly honey production started in Vermont, however, since it is located in the North East region of North America, it is likely that honey bees were introduced in the state during the late 17th century.

    According to the 1868 U.S. agriculture survey Vermont used to be a leading honey-producing state in New England producing 400,000 to 1,000,000 pounds of honey from 12,000 to 15,000 hives.   

    How Much Honey Does Vermont Produce?

    Vermont is a prominent honey-producing state in the US. According to the 2020 USDA reports, in 2019 Vermont produced 288,000 pounds of honey from a total of 6,000 colonies.

    What Are the Main Types of Honey Vermont Produces?

    As one drives through scenic Vermont, he or she will note the vast expanses of grazing areas for the Vermont dairy industry. These fields, dominated by clover and many other wildflowers, double as ‘bee pasture’ for the honey industry.

    While most of the honey produced in Vermont is typically labeled either ‘clover honey’ or ‘wildflower honey,’ the various flavors of Vermont honey are still unique, since the numbers and types of wildflowers are diverse.

    Honeybee Pollinating Clover
    Honey bee collecting clover nectar in order to make Clover honey

    Is Vermont Honey Produced Year-Round or Seasonally?

    The honey bee in Vermont works and produces honey from April through late Autumn, depending on the weather conditions (temperature and amount of rainfall).

    By the end of an entire season, each hive has produced an average of 50-60 pounds of honey, which measures out to be approximately five gallons. The commercial businesses in the state generally extract their honey all at once.

    Which Types of Honey Bees Produce Vermont Honey?

    Vermont honey is produced by subspecies of the Western honey bee. Beekeepers in this state like to use Italian honey bees (Apis mellifera ligustica) since they are easy to handle; and Carniolan honey bees (Apis mellifera carnica) due to their ability to bring more honey yield.

    Which Native Nectar-Producing Plants Are Honey Bee Attracted to in Vermont?

    Springtime, a person will see honey bees putting their efforts into pollinating Pussy Willow bushes, Swamp Alders, Sugar Maple trees, Dandelions, and even apple trees.

    As spring moves into summer, Black Locust Trees and wild blueberry and raspberry bushes produce excellent honey, light-colored, and have a distinctly mild flavor. As mid-summer approaches, the all-important clover season begins.

    The honey bees get to work on plants such as White Dutch, Alsike, and Tallish, in addition to Basswood trees (which produce slightly minty-flavored honey) and Alfalfa. In the late summer, the honey bees forage on wildflowers, which is the other honey staple. Wildflowers that produce pollen and nectar are Vetch, Milkweed, and Sumac.

    Goldenrod and Aster generally round out the honey bee season in the fall, which produces darker, richer honey than the others. Most beekeepers opt to allow this honey to remain in the hive, as the bees will need to consume a significant amount during their overwintering activities. 

    Western Honey Bees Pollinating Common Milkweed
    Milkweed is a popular pollinator-friendly plant amongst Vermont honey bees
    Honey Bee Extracting Alfalfa Nectar
    Western honey bee pollinating alfalfa flowers

    Are There Any Major Honey Farms or Apiaries in Vermont?

    With such a productive honey industry, Vermont does not lack farms and apiaries throughout the state. The following is a list of the major ones:

    Champlain Valley Apiaries Heavenly Honey Apiary
    French Hill Apiaries Golden Well Farm & Apiaries Organic Farm
    However Wild Honey Apiary Mcfarline Apiaries
    Northwoods Apiaries Singing Cedars Apiaries
    The Vermont Honey Company, LLC Vermont Beekeeping Supply
    Weeding Pine Farm and Apiaries West Meadow Apiary

    What Environment Is Needed to Produce Vermont Honey?

    The Northeast is famous for its cold weather. The temperatures often descend below freezing during the winter months, and honey bees are generally unable to gather food for themselves. To avoid the risk of starvation, beekeepers must monitor their bees’ food supply and if needed administer food supplements such as candy sugar, and syrup.

    In Vermont, anyone owning a bee, apiary, colony, or hive is required to register with VAAFM and pay an annual registration fee of $10.00 for each apiary location. There are also laws around the transportation of honey bees and used equipment. For example, an import permit is required to import honey bees and/or equipment into Vermont.

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