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Monday, February 4, 2013

Arizona Rangeland Honey, Tucson, Arizona

I got this Arizona Rangeland Honey from my friend Louise. It is distributed by Golden Rule Honey, a company run by Laurie and Dean out of Leominster, MA. They are beekeepers on a mission to educate about bees and beekeeping, and they advocate for treatment-free beekeeping and honey. Treatment-free bees are not treated with chemicals, organic acids, essential oils or sugar dusting, medicated with antibiotics, or fed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, pollen substitutes or artificial foods. They've written a book, called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping," which you can buy on their website if you'd like to learn more about treatment-free beekeeping and why they are so passionate about going treatment-free.

Needless to say, all honeys distributed by Golden Rule Honey are from treatment-free beekeeping producers, and my Arizona Rangelenad Honey is no different. It is the product of Dee Lusby's bees who forage in remote, open desert rangeland in southern Arizona.

Arizona Rangeland

Dee Lusby is also an active and vocal advocate for treetment-free beekeeping. In her quest to support healthy and productive bees using non-chemical methods she, along with her partner Ed, an experienced and fourth-generation beekeeper, identified that comb cell diameter may play an important role in keeping disease and mite problems in check. They examined the role of natural cell diameter on colony vigor for Southern Arizona and identified an optimal cell diameter for their region. The website has more information on Dee Lusby's work. They now use this optimal natural cell diameter for their bee colonies and claim that it resulted in a significant reduction of disease and mite infestation, while increasing colony productivity. The Lusbys are now expanding their work to identify optimal natural cell diameters for all latitudes.

But back to my rangeland honey. I'm a city girl and was not too sure what "rangeland" is- so I looked it up. In a nutshell, rangelands are lands that, for a variety of reasons (topography, aridness, soil type, etc.) are not suitable for cultivation but provide forage for grazing animals. Think of the open desert spaces where ranchers move their herds through in westerns and I think you have the right idea.

Examples of wild desert flowers

If, however, you think desert means desolate, you'd be wrong. Many wildflowers are native to this environment- and these are the source of rangeland honey. Because these blossoms vary by season and local conditions, each batch of rangeland honey is unique.  

My rangeland honey has already crystallized, which isn't surprising since it has the reputation of being a fast crystallizer. It is a mellow, cloudy, pale yellow color. Even though it looks like it is solidly crystallized, it is in fact, still very liquid, albeit thick, with crunchy granules of varying size.

Arizona Rangeland Honey
The granular texture is unique and gives off burst of sweetness as the granules dissolve. I've read that this honey has a buttery, caramel undertone, but I would describe it more as a subtle taste of green tea, with a final, fleeting, hint of smoke. The layered flavors are delicate. The robust flavor is of crunchy honey sweetness. Given that the texture of this honey is so unique, and the texture would be lost in a hot beverage or in baking, I think this honey is best eaten right out of the jar, or on hot buttered toast.

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