A while back, super-intern Lindsay wrote about the great vegan honey debate. I had also written about the decline of the honey bee on SexyTofu last June after the Vanishing of the Bees blew my mind. (Have you seen that? You need to.)
Taking the topic a little further, I caught up with Katie Sanchez, the creator of Bee Free Honee, a vegan honey alternative. Sanchez is particularly passionate about honey bees, as her father was a bee keeper.
“There is so much we could do as a society to save the bees,” says Sanchez, who believes the full story of what is happening to bees isn’t getting out there. “We would need to change the way we look and purchase honey as consumers, and this means bee keepers would lose a major source income.”
The honey bee generally pollinates in a 2-3 mile radius from the hive,” explains Sanchez. “They naturally stay in one place for their life cycle.”
“It used to be that if you had an orchard then you kept bees for pollination,” says Sanchez. “If the keeper harvested honey, then a portion would be set aside and held in times of drought, so the bees would have food to hold them over until the next pollination.”
Honey production has fallen far from this original model, as orchard owners have found that it is less expensive to rent bee hives than to keep their own. This means that the honey bee is now traveling across the county on flatbed trucks. Along the way, Sanchez explains, they are being exposed to every pesticide and every parasite, and the commute is messing up their natural state of being. (Beeing? Ha!)
“Right now, the honey bee cannot reproduce within the US as fast as the demand dictates,” says Sanchez.
“While honey has beneficial medicinal purposes, alternatives need to be found to sweeten tea and pour on toast, so that the bees can regain numbers in population. We need to plant gardens and invite bees (and all pollinating insects) back into the world with open arms, it can be done, with a little sacrifice and a lot of love.”
To help, Sanchez has created Bee Free Honee, a vegan honey-eqsue product that can be used to replace honey in your favorite recipe. Bee Free Honee is created by Sanchez’ family business, RAES Foods, based in Minnesota.
Honee is created using apples, and has a fruity, floral flavor, much like the honey it emulates. While it is sweet, it has a nice tang that keeps it from being too cloying. The texture is sticky and thick.
To sample it, I added a teaspoon of Honee to my tea, and subbed it for agave in my favorite pancake recipe. It worked beautifully.
The product does, however, contain sugar. It is vegan, non GMO sugar, but for those looking to avoid processed sugar all together you may want to go with agave, although I think that agave lacks the delicate flavor of the Honee.
I also like that the product only has 3 ingredients, and I can pronounce them all: apple juice concentrate, sugar, and lemon juice. This is the perfect product for those new vegans going through honey-withdrawal, anyone sick of using maple syrup or agave in their baking, or just the eco-minded consumer looking to help out the honey bees. I dig!