It is honey harvest season in Middle Tennessee right now. Beekeepers across the state have been patiently and painstakingly tending to their hives all spring and early summer to finally enjoy the fruits of their labor; the honey harvest. By far the most important flower in this area for honey production is white clover and most honey that is collected at this time of year is a “wildflower” mixture consisting of primarily clover honey. Honey has different flavors or bouquets and can be very similar to wine in that it pulls the flavor profiles from the plants which it is harvested (by the bees). When buying locally at your farmers market, many different flavors of honey can be found.
One of our favorite farm vendors at the market, who always has the widest selection of honey year round, is Ed Johnson Honey Farm. Described by their customers as some of the best tasting honey around, the Johnson’s have been producing honey for three generations. Ed Johnson was raised to be a beekeeper. His grandfather brought the first bees to their Goodlettsville farm in 1918. Johnson’s Bee Farm supplies honey all over the southern United States. Ed Johnson and his children, Robert Johnson and Paula Johnson Morton, have consulted and helped farmers start bee hives for their farms all over the state of Tennessee. With the passing of Mr. Johnson in February, his son Robert continues the tradition of the Johnson Honey Farm.
Thurman Harris has sold Johnson honey at the East Nashville Farmers market since it started at the Turnip Truck eight years ago. Thurman sells clover and wild flower honey, bee pollen and honey sticks; Sourwood honey is available seasonally.
Raw vs. Pasteurized Honey
Most of the honey sold in stores has been heated and pasteurized. This processing destroys many of the enzymes and beneficial compounds that make raw honey so nutritious. Pasteurized honey will be clear and viscous. Raw honey has not been treated with heat; it is often more buttery, solid and opaque than pasteurized honey and often contains “cappings,” or small pieces of beeswax. It is completely left in its natural state and therefore contains pollen, enzymes, antioxidants and many other beneficial compounds. Honey you find at the ENFM is typically raw honey that has been filtered once or twice and bottled for sale. It will contain local pollen and enzymes.