Bees' Sweet Yearnings Produce Blue Honey
By Chick Jacobs, The Fayetteville Observer, 6/13/2009
PINEHURST -- No one is quite sure when.
No one is quite sure where.
And after decades of studying, experts still disagree on why.
But almost every year, somewhere in the Sandhills of North Carolina, a few lucky beekeepers strike blue gold.
When they pry open the boxy, buzzing hives in a few weeks, their sticky sweet harvest will have a distinct azure tint: blue honey, colored by nature's whim and the bees' hunger.
"It's real surprising the first time you see it," said Sanford Toole, who owns hives that have produced blue honey in the past few years.
He is a Pinehurst resident and president of the Moore County Beekeepers Association.
"The first time, you wonder what you did wrong. But after a little research, you discover it's not something wrong: It's something special."
This week, Toole opened a small jam jar filled with the sticky sweet stuff. It smelled and poured just like honey should. But it sure looked different.
"We don't put anything in it to create that color," said Toole's son, Kevin. "And we don't do anything to the bees, either. It's all natural."
The honey's secret is unlocked in its flavor. After the overpowering sweetness of honey bum-rushes your taste buds, let it linger for just a few seconds. There, along the back of your tongue, you begin to sense something familiar. Something fruity.
Something like blueberries.
Blue honey, it seems, is the product of a bee's sweet tooth and an abundance of wild berries. In this case, it's huckleberries, a distant wild cousin of the blueberry…