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Don't forget to check out the "Cletus Calendar" page. There is a lot of good information posted there.

  Here is a subject that we can all have a debate on. “The National Honey Board Clarifies Confusion Over Pollen and Ultra filtration”.

In my humble opinion, “Ultra filtration” removes most of the good qualities from the honey. How can your body build immunity to certain flowering plants that cause millions of us to suffer with allergies each year when the pollen particles have been completely removed from the honey? 

 The alteration of any product should be labeled as such. Maybe, the label should read “Pollen Free”, so the consumer who is trying to help with their allergies could select a honey product best suited to their needs.

The article goes on to say that the beekeeping industry has been using this “tried and true” method for over 50 years. I don’t know where they get their information, but, most beekeepers that I know and have met over the last 49 years of my beekeeping history have been straining their honey. Not “Ultra filtering” it. Most of us only strain out the larger particles and leave the minute particles in place along with their benefits.

 To me it would be like removing the carbonation out of a coke and still calling it a coke. I guess technically it is still considered a coke but, why bother drinking it? Honey should remain intact with all of its good qualities and not made into sugar water and still call it honey.

Read the article below and send me your thoughts.


 The National Honey Board Clarifies Confusion Over Pollen and Ultrafiltration.

 Firestone, Colo. – August 7, 2012 – Honey has been in the news recently, covering topics from its source to its authenticity. The National Honey Board (NHB), a federal research and promotion board with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversight, wants to clarify any misconceptions. The NHB utilized industry, culinary and educational resources to produce “The Story of Honey,” which captures the many positives of honey, from being a vital component of a healthy ecosystem to whole body benefits, while shining light on how honey is harvested, from honey bee to table.

 “Lately, there has been some confusion about honey and honey filtration,” said Bruce Boynton, CEO of the National Honey Board. “The term “ultrafiltration” has been misused in association with traditional filtration methods commonly used by many U.S. honey packers, leading some consumers to believe that any honey without pollen is not real honey.” “The truth is that honey is made by honey bees from the nectar of flowers and plants, not pollen. “

 This is one of several myths that need clarification, according to the NHB. Harvesting honey is an ancient artisanal craft that is both an art and science. The honey bees gather nectar from flowering plants while beekeepers collect honey from the beehives. The journey from harvesting to distributing honey is multifaceted.

 “The bees simply collect nectar, add a few enzymes and store it in the honeycomb. But all of the color, the flavor, the aroma, the antioxidants, whatever constituents are in the honey comes from the particular flower from which the nectar was collected,” said 40-year veteran beekeeper Gene Brandi.

 There are more than 300 varietals of honey, ranging greatly in flavor and appearance. After the honey is removed from the beehive and extracted by a beekeeper, it is shipped off to a honey packer, who warms the honey and removes any foreign material or residue from the beehive, often including whatever pollens may have been introduced during the extraction process.

 “The filtration process that we use is a tried and true method that’s been used in the industry for more than 50 years,” said Jill Clark, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Dutch Gold Honey, a 66-year-old family owned and operated business based in Lancaster, Pa. “We warm the honey so it flows smoothly through our filters. Our filter press looks like a large accordion with many paper filters along the way. Honey goes through the paper filters, and this removes the foreign material or the pollen and any residue from the beehive, so that by the time it’s through the filter papers, the honey is clear and ready for bottling.”

Honey is a natural product that contains just one ingredient: honey. The benefits of honey make it easily accessible for consumers to use in their daily lives. Honey is a whole food that has naturally occurring nutrients. Honey has other uses outside of the culinary realm. As a carbohydrate, honey is a natural energy booster. With humectant properties, honey draws and retains moisture to nourish the body. It is also recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization as a natural cough suppressant in children after the age of one.1

Dr. Ian Paul was the lead researcher of a study funded by the National Honey Board to prove honey is an effective natural cough suppressant. “I was looking to find an alternative that would be just as good as the over-the-counter dextromethorphan. I was surprised when we looked at the study results that the honey did the best in the comparison of the honey, the dextromethorphan and no treatment. So I was really happy to be able to provide an alternative for my patients and children around the country,” said Dr. Ian Paul of Hershey, PA.

 The National Honey Board conducts research, advertising and promotion programs to help maintain and expand markets for honey and honey producers. These programs are funded by an assessment of one cent per pound on domestic and imported honey.


 Dennis Brown - Lone Star Farms,

 Clint Walker has taken the time to give consideration to the question posed and I think he has given as fair an answer as is needed. I know why the packers filter their honey as they do, to extend store shelf life, and with or without the pollen it is still honey, just as the bees made it. The explanation John Talbert gave on how the bees process the nectar they bring into the hive to turn it into honey, no pollen added, was an eye opener.

 As I understand the process of making honey, The bee gathers nectar from the flowers and carries it back to the hive in its honey stomach and transfers it to a house bee for further processing.  Both bees add enzymes to start the conversion from plant sugars to glucose and fructose plus some other minor sugars.  The transfer process involves movement thru the proboscis of both bees.  This process involves a high state of filtration so that the actual honey produced has absolutely no pollen in it.  However during the process of filling the cells, many bees walk over the open cells with pollen clinging to their bodies.  This pollen drops into the uncapped honey.  So pure honey would not have any pollen.  Dr Bryant can go into some great detail about the filtration function in the body of the bee.   I never gave it that much thought. 

Clint and John’s answer has also given me a greater sense of the value of the raw, unfiltered honey that I have for sale, pollen included. As long as the honey on the store shelf is not adulterated (corn syrup) or an illegal product (evaded tariffs), we should not knock it, it is what it is. What we can do is tout our, somewhat messy, not so pretty, unfiltered honey for what it is, real honey with all the garnishing. It should be valued, and worth more to those who seek the real benefits of honey, pollen and all. Maybe this is still a topic that needs to be presented at the Convention.

 Thanks all for taking time to look at this. Regards,    Jimmie Oakley


 Thank you for your response. I actually had an understanding of the process but when I post all the responses to our newsletter, your response will help those folks who didn't know the process understand it. Thanks for that. 

My biggest concern is that there are millions of people out there that are eating honey specifically to help with their allergy problem. When they purchase honey that has been ultra-filtered, they are receiving zero help for their allergy problem. The consumer has no clue that they are buying a product that is of no value to them. After taking it for a while without seeing any positive results, they are convinced that "honey" does not help with allergy problems. When in fact, honey that has not been ultra-filtered does help. 

I feel that the answer to the "Honey/Pollen dilemma lies in having a proper labeling system. If these big companies want to "ultra-filter" there product and still want to call it honey, fine, they should be made to label their honey as "Pollen Free" honey. This way the consume who is trying to help with their allergies can select a honey best suited to their needs. 

I believe honey that has had the pollen removed and has been heated so high that all the good stuff has been cooked out of it, technically, is still honey in the broad sense of the word. If you were to take the carbonation out of a coke, it technically would still be considered a coke, but, who would want to drink it? 

 The beekeeping industry should take advantage of this situation by forcing a labeling change. I can guarantee you that few people would actually purchase a jar of honey if they knew it was "Ultra-filtered". That could only help us beekeepers who work hard to produce a pure and healthy product.

 Thanks for your time. Dennis Brown


I have a slightly different concern.  Ultrafiltration is used by honey re-marketers (import/export folks) to disguise the country of origin by removing all evidence of where it came from (the pollen).  This is a handy trick if, for example, you want to buy cheap, sub-par honey from a country barred by the US, ultra filter it (or have your source do so), then re-label and sell it here at a hefty markup. I know the folks at Texas A&M have a lab where they can identify where honey came from, based on the pollen content.  I'm a bit surprised that the honey board would promote ultrafiltration, when its primary purpose is to disguise adulterated honey, or honey from suspect sources.  Didn't we (honey producers) just have a long discussion about how the US needs to have a national standard?  I thought the honey board was leading that effort - not trying to undermine it.    Alan


 You are so right. It is becoming more obvious all the time that it is simply about the $ and also who you know. It appears that having the Honey Board over-see the beekeepers best interest is like having a mouse guard a cheese factory or a chemical company over-seeing a bee lab. Sounds like money is talking. Thanks for responding.



 I am in agreement with you. I have kept bees from the late 70s through the mid 80s, until they opened up our markets to the cheap Chinese honey destroying domestic prices. After the prices plunged, I still kept bees but for my own use until I moved to Kentucky in 1996. I got back into beekeeping in 2009, doing it the same way I did back during the 70s and 80s, naturally without any treatments.

 My opinion is that the hotter you heat the honey the more of the natural flavor you loose and also the healthy aspects of the product. Many people are becoming more and more aware that the processing of all of our food products is also destroying the nutritional and health values to us; and are willing to pay a little more for the non processed products. Organically raised food not only tastes better but is better for you. I currently have about 20 colonies and intend to expand to 40 to 80 as money permits. But I always intend to sell my product directly to the public. Going through a middleman just defeats my objectives. Once I top out and can no longer sell my honey to the end user then I will reduce my production. I have always been treatment free. Kindest Regards.   Danny Unger


I think Ultra Filtration of honey is like Ultra Pasteurization of milk – it must be good for us, otherwise the government wouldn’t tell us we need it, right?  Commercial producers of any food product strip away most of the stuff that makes it worthwhile in the first place, mostly for economic or insurance reasons.  I would bet money the reason for filtering honey has to do with the perception of some safety issues regarding botulism.  No big player in the industry wants the e coli of honey to rear its ugly head, even though there isn’t much (or any) evidence to suggest a problem.  Of course filtering millions of gallons of what may, or may not, be actual honey probably isn’t a bad idea.  This just gives the local, artisanal producer of quality honey a marketing edge to command a better price for a better product.  Let the big guys make the super clean, ubiquitous, commodity bee product – we’ll make honey.  David Dodge

 Hey Dennis,

     I read the article about straining honey and it did not describe the size of the strainer that cuts out the beneficial pollens and others. I use the medium or #400 strainer. Would everyone feel that this still lets a sufficient amount of the good stuff through to the honey barrel?  Mark

Hello Mark,

 Most of us use a 400 and up micron filter. I personally use a double filter set-up. The bottom filter is a 500 micron filter and the insert filter is a 1000 micron filter. The type of filtering that provides "Utra filtering" is a 100 to 150 micron filter which leaves nothing in the so called honey product.

 I wish the bee supply companies would change the word filter to "Stainer" to avoid confusion. We don't technically filter. We strain our honey.


 Response to Bee question;

 I am sure what they say in the article is correct. It is an easy matter to check it out, though few will but, just one can and destroy the validity of all that they say. The question really seems to be is honey strained to the level they do now really honey. I would say yes it is. However, is it as good for someone as if it, is only strained to get rid of the large particles. (In effect, Bee parts, whole bees, or wax.) Omission of saying things to me is as bad and misleading as out-right lying. I need to study the situation some more to definitely know what is correct and best for the majority of people that eat honey. But, off the cuff, I would have to go with what Dennis says. His examples are good ones. He seems to be an honest person and genuinely cares about the Bee Industry by what and how he conducts himself. 

 Let me give an example of something we know is correct but, can through omission be made incorrect. I taught school for 31years. Every year I would do this, it became easier as the years passed. I do not believe because I was better at it but, rather people (students) were more believing of what was said to them. Through the tenth grade level I never had a group that could not be convinced that 999 was more than 1000. I only had a very few in the 11th grade that would stick to their guns and not believe that, and more in the 12th grade until the last few years. In the last few years some senior classes would be convinced that 999 was more than1000. I always did that to prove to them not to believe all that they were hearing or reading. Those that were not convinced I always applauded them in front of the class for being distinctive in their thinking.

I have a hard time believing all that is said by people in Industry or closely associated with it. They are there to advance something for the betterment of it, in other words does it make more money. You know the story; the more it makes the more right it must be. But, I have to question the Industrial people as to what is best for the people eating honey. I have lived in these parts since 1953 and along with some other reasons, just by observation, if many food items had all the so called impurities in them that they used to have, people would be healthier. With the advent of Bigger Government and people no smarter than you or I telling us what is best. Many people have lived longer that is true but, they do not have quality in their lives as long as they should have. Are we to become like the students and just believe without checking what is right and proper? Example, look at the internet, they have done numerous studies on it and found most of the information on it is wrong. Yet as soon as someone wants to know something where do they go?    Paul Bartlett


Wow, awesome thoughts. Thanks for bringing that to our attention. I didn't know about that. Good thing we're starting to keep our own bees!   Rachel 


Call me crazy, but I merely strain my honey through the coarsest strainer I own. It remains full of pollen, which is the most beneficial ingredient in my opinion.

It appears these folks would think nothing of adding high fructose corn syrup to their product as well.  If stricter regulations of labeling food products were applied, the public could make their own decisions about what they consider beneficial and for that matter, safe to consume.  California has a proposition on their November ballot that would require food labeling reflects whether the product contains GMOs.  Needless to say, the food industry, industrialized agriculture and the "Big 6" chemical companies are up in arms over the proposition.  David Blacklock

Hello David,

 They have the money to fight it and probably win. It is all about money.



 The reason as I understand Ultra filtration is with the pollen removed they cannot identify the source of the honey - open window for Chinese and Argentina honey.   Sam Hammett

 Hello Sam,

That is so true. Do you think that the final product of "Ultra Filtering" is still classified as honey or something else?



It will still have the elements of Honey - Glucose and Fructose, so I guess it would still be classified as Honey.  Sam


 I'm concerned that the public is lost in the different terms...filtered, ultra filtered, beekeeper filtered.  I'm of the mind-set that if I use six layers of cheese cloth and tell the folks that I just get the wings and feet out of the honey... it's honey.  They don't mention if the honey processed had any pollen before they treated it.  I, 7 bears and bees like it natural.  Terri Kelley

 Dear Dennis,

 Personally, I think some of the large packers are feeling the competition of the small producers who sell unprocessed honey. Consumers are seeking natural honey for its health benefits. The large packers must not only ultra filter their product, but also heat it above 160 degrees in order to extend its shelf life (it no longer tastes like honey).   Technically, pure honey is pure, and free of all impurities (pollen etc). Natural or raw, or unprocessed honey is what beekeepers extract from their hives.  Almost all of the people I sell honey to insist that it be unprocessed and unheated  ... they want the natural product, preferably produced locally, not the bland pasteurized filtered product sold in retail stores. Many of my customers have allergies and firmly feel that raw local honey is beneficial. To me pure honey is what comes directly from the bee hive, before it goes to the packer.

 Maybe the issue could be cleared by labeling the honey as either "Pure Processed Honey", and "Pure Unprocessed Honey".   Tom Stewart


Bee Talk

 Hey Dennis, 

I have a question for you. My 2 hives are going strong in 2 brood boxes with 9 frames each. I've got a honey supper on each one that the bees are drawing out pretty well. Is there any chance to get honey this year? My thought is to let them draw the frames out and then store them for next year to get a head start on the honey flow. Does that make any sense?   Chris

 Hello Chris, 

Do you mean let them draw the frames out and fill the supers up, then store the honey/super until next year? Or, let them draw the supers out, fill them with honey, then extract the honey, then store empty supers for next year?



 I'm concerned because although they are getting them drawn out but I'm not seeing any honey being stored in them. Should I leave them on and hope they will produce this late in the year, or take them off and start feeding them?  Chris


 I would place a queen excluder on the top brood box and then place the honey super on top of that. They will fill the lower boxes first, then, move up into the super. This time of year, the queen has a tendency to move up. You don't want to have her laying in the honey super. Then watch it for a while. Usually, the bees only draw out foundation if there is a pretty good food source to draw from. They must be getting nectar since you are not feeding. Maybe they will be able to fill the super up. Then you can extract it. Then place the empty wet supers back on the hive so the bees can clean them up. Then pull them off and store them.


 Hello Dennis, 

Want to give you a report and have a couple questions: You may recall we bought our first two Nucs from Bee-Weavers in April. It appears to have recovered over time. It has nearly filled all frames in both deeps and we are ready to add a honey super. We will stop feeding now. The better hive is 2 deeps plus 2 medium honey supers, and they are filling the last frames of the second super. We plan to borrow a club extractor, hopefully this weekend.

 Question: When we remove the two honey supers for extraction, should we place a new honey super on the hive immediately, or wait until after extraction and put one of the old supers back on for them to refill?

If the honey flow is still going, you can put one of the extracted honey super back on the hive.

Question: We think the weaker hive is ready for a honey super. Can we take the extracted second honey super from the strong hive and put it on the weak hive or will they reject it since it came from the other hive? We could use a new super with foundation but it seems more productive to reuse the other one.

Bees don’t mind having equipment that has already been on another hive. They just don’t like any other bees coming into the hive. You can place the other extracted honey super on the second hive if the flow is still going on.

 Question: when a hive has honey supers on it, do you periodically pull the honey super to inspect the deeps, or is it OK to assume that all is well. We can do the mite test, of course.

Before you ever think of placing honey supers on a hive, you should make sure the hive is in good condition. After placing the honey supers on, you should not have to inspect the lower boxes. The trick is to know when the honey flow starts and finishes in your area. That way you won’t have to leave the honey supers on for a long period of time.

 Thanks, looking forward to another class.    Doug & Donna Smith

  Hey Dennis

I got a nuc on May 12 and added another brood box in late June. I've been feeding sugar syrup 3 to 4 gal/day. If the second brood box is completely drawn would it make sense to add a honey super while they still need sugar syrup? Or should I add another brood box?  I'm not in a hurry for honey, just want a strong colony. Thanks,   Fred

Hello Fred,

 I don't quite understand your set-up. You purchased a nuc in May. You placed the nuc frames into a standard 10 frame brood box and then added another brood box on top of that in June? So, the hive consists of 2 brood boxes at this time?


 Hey Dennis,

Yes, two brood boxes now. Should I add another brood or a super??  If I can harvest honey -- ok. But I want to make sure they make it through the winter. Thanks for your expertise.

Also, my bees have suddenly taken to the bloom of a weed we think is called Bone Set --- lots of weeds in our pasture. Thanks,    Fred


 Having your bees in two brood boxes is what we should strive for. These two boxes should always remain for the bees only. If those two brood boxes are full and heavy and there is a honey flow going on, you can add a honey super on top. Do not feed this hive or any hive that has a honey super on it. (By the way, you should feed a mix of 2 parts sugar and 1 part water.) If you add a honey super on top and there is no honey flow going on, the bees will "mine" the wax off the newly added wax foundation and use it else where in the hive. So, make sure that there is a honey flow going on when you add an extra box.

 You should remove the honey super soon after the honey flow is over. If you leave it on too long, the queen will move up into the honey super this time of year and begin to lay eggs. You don't want that to happen so remove it as soon as the flow is over or add a queen excluder between the top brood box and the honey super.

 I hope this has helped you.


 Hey Dennis,

Just wondering how yesterday's class went. Hope you had enough to fill it. I'm looking forward to this new class you are offering this fall. We got quite a bit of slow soaking rain yesterday which I hope will help the fall honey flow. My bees all seem to be doing great. I do have on hive that I took a couple of frames out of a couple of months back and forgot to replace them. Now I have a mess in that box!!! they have built comb in the empty spaces and attached it to the walls and existing foundation. Oh well, another lesson learned the hard way.

When do you think the fall flow will start? I don't want to miss it. Most of my hives are two boxes strong with filled frames. I'm excited because if everything goes good I might get enough honey for a surplus.   Jeff

Hello Jeff,

No matter how long you are into beekeeping, there is always a lesson to be learned. Always have extra frames to replace the ones you are removing and be sure to put them in place before the top goes back on. Remember to make a plan before you work the bees and have all the necessary equipment to execute that plan.

 I see a lot of aster around right now that should start blooming in three to four weeks. The class went very well. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and went away with more knowledge than they came with which is what it is all about. Keep me posted with your hive activities.


 Hey Dennis,

I found out today that the principal at our high school also keeps bees. Or at least he has one hive. He says his father-in-law gave them to him. After visiting with him, I strongly encouraged him to attend your classes. He's making some of the same mistakes I first made! He claims he just doesn't have the time to fool with them, but I think that perhaps he just doesn't understand what to do with them. He claims that he got them back in the spring and has already re-queened them. He says that the first queen wasn't clipped and that she may have left the hive, so he re-queened them. I don't think he really understood what to do. Anyway, I'm gonna give him your web site address and encourage him to attend your next beginners class.

I've been working on my new honey house now for about three weeks. It's coming along pretty good. I'm building it on top of my cellar that I started last May. It's about 8 by 14 which is just the right size. Most of it is built using reclaimed lumber and nails. I'm a packrat, so I already had lots of lumber from old buildings that I tore down and other second hand sources. The cellar is built using mostly new materials since it is hard to find and use used cinder blocks. It's amazing how much cooler it is underground! I've put a lot of work in the cellar. I started to just cover it with dirt after I poured the roof, but then I got to thinking what a great honey house I could build on top of it, so that's what I'm doing. It should be a great place to store my surplus honey if I ever get any!

I checked my bees this weekend and all looks good. I had one honey super on one of my hives that I put on after the flow and it looks like they have drawn out the foundation and have started packing honey away in the middle frames! Exciting!!!! So, I may have jumped the gun, but I added another super to one of my other hives to see if they would start drawing out the foundation. I can't wait to check them this weekend. Do you think it's too soon to start adding supers that don't have drawn comb? My hope is that by doing so now, when the flow starts, they will have the super ready to store honey.

Well, guess I better run. I've been having A/C troubles here at the house so I need to go work on that before my wife calls a real A/C guy!   Jeff

Hello Jeff,

 Thanks for passing on the website to others. In my book I address when to add more boxes. There is no way for me to say when it is best for you to add boxes. Each hive is different. Just because one hive may need another box, other hives may not. Many factors come into play such as hive condition, population and how much food is already stored in the comb compared to how much room is available. Remember, if you add a box too early, the bees tend to "mine" the wax from the frames and use it in other places. Learn when the honey flow starts in your area and only add a new box to the hive when that hive needs it. Never give the hive more room than they can take care for. Re-read the "Honey Flow" chapter in my book.

 It is always exciting to have a special place devoted to your beekeeping activities. You will spend many hours in those special places.



For Sale

Nucs & Hives

I am a member of the Lone Star Farms bee club. I have never used chemicals in my hives and I have been raising bees continuously for 35 years. I am offering a limited number of nucs as well as complete bee hives for sale. The cost for each nuc is $145.00 and the cost for each complete and established hive is $375.00. Both contain fresh 2012 laying queens with proven laying patterns. The nucs consist of 5 deep frames hived in a corrugated plastic nuc box. The hives consist of 20 deep frames with a screened bottom and a migratory top. They can be picked up in Bryan, Houston or Galveston, Texas. If you are interested or need further information, please call me at 281.932.4887 or email me at demosautomotive@aol.com

Thank you, Costa Kouzounis


  Days Gone By