NEW JERSEY — September is widely recognized as National Honey Month. This month typically marks the end of the honey collection season for beekeepers across the US.

You don’t have to be arms deep in a beehive to appreciate the thick, golden stuff that makes everything sweeter. The Garden State has a number of bee and honey farms that produce high-quality, local raw honey. Here are some we found:

BeeHive Barn, East Windsor: www.beehivebarn.com/shop, 609-395-7758

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Birds & Bees Farm, Columbus: www.birdsandbeesfarm.com, 609-346-4192

Cape May Honey Farm, Cape May: www.capemayhoneyfarm.com, 609-425-6434

E&M Gold Beekeepers, Tinton Falls: www.emgoldbeekeepers.com, 732-542-6528

Gooserock Farm, Montville: www.gooserockfarm.com, 973-263-0674

Hilltop Honey, North Caldwell: www.hilltophoneyllc.com, 973-403-8862

Stiles Apiaries, Ford: www.stileshoney.com, 732-661-0700

Sweet Cheeks Farm and Apiary, Chester: sweetcheeksfarm.com, 908-809-0202

Uncle Gordon's Backyard Honey, North Bergen: gordons-backyard-honey.business.site, 305-331-2673

Did you know?

Honeybees dedicate their lives to serving the colony. Worker bees forage the area and travel flower to flower collecting nectar. According to the National Honey Board, honeybees must visit about two million flowers to make one pound of honey.

Back at the hive, the bees regurgitate the nectar among themselves and then deposit it into the honeycomb. They use their wings to fan the viscous liquid and seal the cell with beeswax. The honey can then be stored indefinitely or made into products like soaps, hand creams, candles and lip balms.

Locally raised bees

Joe Lelinho, owner of Hilltop Honey in North Caldwell, NJ, has been working with bees for over 25 years. Lelinho offers public education to visitors through information sessions to community groups, as well as training classes for future beekeepers.

He believes it is important that people understand a bee’s contribution to society and learn how to protect their populations.

“Honeybees are a basic building block in our agricultural system,” says Lelinho. “Considering nearly one-third of all the food we eat is credited to bees, we owe it to them to keep their environment clean.”

Ten miles up the road is Gooserock Farm, which has been recognized as a local landmark in Montville Township. Gooserock Farm, owned and operated by Landi Simone and her family, prides itself on producing minimally-processed, raw honey.

“Buying honey from a local beekeeper is your best guarantee that the honey has all its pollen, all its enzymes and vitamins, and the flavor hasn’t been damaged by overheating,” she said.

Mary Kosenski of E&M Gold Beekeepers who, with her husband Ed, have maintained bee apiaries in Monmouth County for 23 years.

“We breed honeybees with the goal of producing a better bee for survival in our New Jersey climate.”

Kosenski finds the peacefulness of beekeeping especially rewarding.

“Some days I’ll find a doe grazing in my yard, or a wild turkey run past me, or a fox sleeping on the wood pile,” she said. “A beehive seems to invite nature.”

Flavors Galore

Different flowers make different types of honey. Its color, taste and aroma is dependent on the types of flowers the bee visits. Some popular varietal honeys include blueberry, alfalfa, clover, orange blossom and butter bean.

“Here in New Jersey, we don’t produce huge quantities of honey per hive, but I’d bet we have some of the best varietals in the nation,” said Simone.

If the hives are placed in or near a blueberry field, they will likely yield blueberry honey. If the beekeeper isn’t sure what the origin of honey is, it’s considered wildflower. All the flavor in these varietals comes straight from the blossoms.

A million and one uses

Historically, honey has been viewed more as a medicine than as a food — after all, it is Mother Nature’s remedy for just about everything. In WWI, before penicillin was discovered, honey was used as a wound dressing.

Honey offers an alternative sweetener to sugar. Stir into your morning cup of tea or drizzle on whole wheat toast for a naturally sweet treat.

Although not scientifically proven, many claim that a teaspoon of honey helps alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms. Due to the trace amounts of natural pollen in honey, it may help build immunity.

More on NJ Flavor:

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