Meet the real busy bees behind your mountain honey
For a real sweet taste of mountain flavor, head straight to the source for some fresh, flavorful honey.
Did you know not all honey tastes the same? Honey made from the nectar of locust trees can have a light, flowery flavor, whereas poplar trees make darker, even spicier honey. Because of the Mountain State’s variety of plants and vast forests, our honey’s flavor palates are wide-ranging.
You can pick up a jar at the local farmer’s market, or even go straight to some of our state’s best apiaries (that’s the word for bee farms).
Want to see the best of West Virginia honey, up close and personal? Check out these places:
1. Mountain Dragon Mazery (Fairmont)
The mazery’s main focus is brewing mead, a wine made from honey that may be the oldest fermented beverage in human history. But Mountain Dragon Mazery also makes its own honey at a special apiary between Fairmont and Morgantown along the Monongahela River.
You can tour and taste their mead at the brewery in downtown Fairmont, but they are also happy to give by-appointment tours of their apiary.
2. Eversweet Apiary (Kearneysville)
Eversweet is one of West Virginia’s biggest and most all-inclusive apiaries. They produce and sell their own “raw” honey. Unlike store-bought brands, it has never been heated beyond 95 degrees, and some people believe it may have more health benefits.
Eversweet even sells bees and a full line of apiary equipment to amateur beekeepers.
Most of all, Eversweet is about education and outreach. They have free seminars on bees, honey and beekeeping, give honey tastings and even publish an annual printed “Beekeeping Guide” for West Virginia honey bee fans.
3. Healthberry Farms (Dry Fork)
This apiary and meadery has been producing natural, unprocessed, preservative-free honeys and meads since 1995. Healthberry Farms’ recipes are raw and unpasteurized, and their Honeyriver Mead is aged 2 years and bottled without sulfite preservatives.
Owner Benjamin McKean, who is also president of the Highlands Apicultural Association in Elkins, has helped put West Virginia on the map as a beekeeping center. He said, “Not only are the Mountain State’s temperate climate and massive forests a great place for apiaries, but because the state has small farms, pesticide levels are low enough that bee populations can thrive.”
4. Thistledew Farm (Proctor)
You might just recall seeing Steve Conlon years ago on the “Jay Leno Show”: he was the “bee man” wearing a full beard of live honey bees! Well, Steve and his family have an apiary and honey shop here in West Virginia.
The Thistledew Farm shop carries the farm’s full range of honeys and honey products like salves, mustards, and candles, and it also is an educational apiary experience, with beekeeping equipment and a live observation bee hive.
5. West Virginia State Honey Festival (Parkersburg)
Expect lots of food and honey sampling, education about our state insect and different vendors and beekeepers from West Virginia and surrounding states at the West Virginia Honey Festival every 4th weekend of August, which has been around since 1981.
Have you tried real West Virginia honey?
This post was last updated on July 19, 2016