As early as the original settlers, there have been beekeepers in Georgia. Honey has long been prized, not only for its sweet flavor, but for its medicinal and cosmetic properties. By 2019, the annual output of Georgia honey was an astounding 3 million-plus pounds per year, according to beeswiki.com. This enormous amount of honey is not coming from corporate farms, but from many quiet caretakers of small bee colonies in local backyards.
Honey flavors are influenced by the nectars that bees drink. The four main types of Georgia honey are lightly flavored Sourwood from trees in the north Georgia mountains, a darker and somewhat stronger tasting honey from the Tulip Poplar that is grown all over the state, mild Gallberry honey from shrubs growing in the sandy soils of the coast, and Tupelo, rare and known for its hops-like flavor, from the Ogeechee Tupelo trees in the swamplands of the Georgia-Florida border.
Some beekeepers are listed at http://www.localhoneyfinder.org/GAatlanta.php, where you can learn more about them. If you are going for a weekend drive and hope to find fresh honey, a look at the Georgia map shows that the honey-making ‘corridor’ seems to be US Highway 23 going up through Cornelia to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Check tourist shops along the way for home-grown varieties.
Here in town, Honey Next Door has individual apiaries tucked throughout Virginia Highlands, Decatur, Brookwood, Grant Park, Candler Park and Druid Hills. They sell organic pure raw honey along with organic elderberry syrup and lip balms through area boutique shops. Read the blog about what flowers are best to plant for bees, or call them if you have a hive problem.
The Little Bee Project in South and East Atlanta does something similar. Beekeepers, many of them with training from the University of Georgia Master Beekeepers Program, tend individual apiaries. The bottles are sold like vineyard wines, each labeled for the location where it was produced. For example, No.1025, derived from Tulip Poplar, clover, blackberries and a fresh creekside environment, is said to deliver a taste “…as fragrant as the spring air following a thunderstorm.”
Georgia Honey Farm in Alpharetta not only has a little store and online/special-order sales, but they go the extra step of working to educate the next generation about how valuable honeybees are to our ecosystem.
The Savannah Bee Company’s location at Atlanta’s Westside Provisions goes upscale, with every bee-related product you can imagine, including honey hot sauce, mead, a honey bar for sampling, and “Gold Reserve” that looks like it is in a tall, slim wine bottle, and sells for $120.
See healthywithhoney.com to learn more about the various properties of each type. Answers to basic questions: Honey harvest season is in June. If you see what looks like white foam, it’s air bubbles. When honey hardens, it has not gone bad. Just immerse the bottle in warm water and it will become fluid again.