Manheim Gardens’ Honey

Many honey producers, large and small, claim their products are ‘pure,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘organic’ and sometimes these terms are under defined. What makes Manheim Garden’s honey special?

The bee team at Manheim Gardens follows the methods of Natural Beekeeping. There can be a lot of detail to this in practice, but it’s principles are dead simple:

  1. Use the right kind of bee.
  2. Create an environment that matches the wild conditions bees are adapted for.
  3. Reduce human intervention as much as possible.
a wild swarm on a pear tree at Manheim Gardens

We start with the right kind of bee. Rather than buying queens from breeders that may not be suited to our local climate, we capture swarms of wild bees. While not native to North America, honey bees have naturalized here and can do well in our climate. Because we use wild bees, our colonies are cold hearty and disease resistant. This directly effects the product:

  1. Wild, cold hearty bees don’t need to be fed sugar water to survive the winter, so the honey they produce comes exclusively from local nectar sources.
  2. Their natural disease resistance means we never have to use antibiotics, mite spray, or treat for small hive beetles, so the honey is free of synthetic chemicals.

The environment is the next factor. We use horizontal hives similar to those designed by Dr. Leo Sharashkin, which better approximate the hardwood tree hollows bees prefer in the wild. Hives are made of untreated wood, and bees build comb on stainless steel wire instead of plastic foundations.

Horizontal hives under construction

Bees forage from a 3 mile radius centered around our 2 acre urban farm / community garden in midtown. They have access to a wide variety of nectar sources at the Gardens and throughout the city. Honey produced in an urban setting like this is of potentially higher value than honey from a similar apiary in a rural setting would. This is because when bees forage near commercial farmland they are likely to come into contact with pesticides, herbicides and other synthetic products that are still widely used by the agriculture industry.

Bees are incredible animals that turn flowers into food, they are fascinating watch and rewarding to work with. Come by the Gardens to meet the bees that made your honey! we’re always happy to give tours and demonstrations and we’d love to see more folks start keeping bees the natural way.