As a Reddit post makes its rounds, teaching thousands about a purplish-blue kind of honey that bees make in North Carolina, people are asking the same question:
How can I get some of it?
The answer is both mysterious and disappointing: many of the lucky beekeepers whose bees have produced purple (or blue) honey in the past aren’t sure they’ll ever get it again. Fortunately, a few beekeepers in the area still have tiny jars of the colorful honey—ranging from a few months to a few years ago—for sale.
The honey is a head-scratcher, and beekeepers and beekeepers are torn over what gives the sweet stuff its special hue. Probable reasons range from acidic soil to kudzu flowers to sourwood trees.
But they agree that a) purple or blue honey comes sporadically with no proven signs of it coming, and b) the color is natural.
Granville County beekeepers Christi Henthorn first got purple honey in Oxford in 2017, and she hasn’t seen it since.
“It’s not a consistent product and there isn’t much available most of the time,” Henthorn said. “I’ve only heard that people get it randomly once and then no more. I don’t think I know a single person who has been lucky twice!”
A handful of lucky beekeepers have experienced the honey more than once, but not on a set schedule.
David Auman, president of the Richmond County Beekeepers Association, gets a little bit of the stuff every year, but has to wait a few years to get the unique honey in large batches that he can separate, repot, and sell.
He keeps two or three hives at a time, although surprisingly he only gets purple honey in one of them, he said.
Where to Buy Purple, Blue Honey in North Carolina
• Zombies Honey from NC: Whitney Barnes, who co-owns Zombees Honey of NC with her husband in Timberlake, first saw purple honey in 2017. It was the first time she’d learned that bees in the area could do such a thing.
“It was so much fun. I went to these group meetings in the area with my sweetheart, and other people did the same. Because when I told them about it, they said, ‘You too? I thought I was the only one!’” she said “I tried putting together a database of who got it, but it wasn’t a big list. Maybe six names in all – just to show you how rare it is when it hits.
Barnes got the honey again in 2018, and a lot this time. She did it in two ounce containers and sold a few that year. Her bees haven’t made purple honey since, but she still has some of those earlier jars for sale.
To purchase Barnes Purple Honey, you can visit Zombees Honey on Facebook and contact the store to make your purchase.
Remark: Over time, purple and blue honey loses its vibrancy. Buying purple or blue honey that’s a few years old will look darker brown, although you can still see the candy-like hues, Barnes said.
The rarity alone makes the purchase worth it, whether the honey is still a vibrant purple or not, Barnes said.
“It’s so unique and rare – that’s why I’m in no rush to sell it. And that’s why I’m selling in small batches so people can try it,” she said. “It doesn’t taste like honey you’ve ever had.”
• Dees Bees Apiary: Donald Dees, owner of Dees Bees Apiary in the Sandhills, sees a little bit of blue in his cabinets every year.
“Every year my honey contains blue spores,” Dees said. “But to get it out in harvestable amounts that are exclusively blue honey, you have to be 25% or 50% of the frame solid blue. That only happens every few years, maybe five or ten.”
As the Reddit post went viral and made its way to some North Carolina social media pages, Dees got call after call for the stuff.
“Everyone wanted something. I’ve been to the stores that sell my blue honey to get some jars off the shelf and ship them to people,” he said. He has a few pounds left and he’s selling them in small increments so that more people have a chance to try it.
To purchase Dees’ Blue Honey, visit deesbeesapiary.com and contact the store to make your purchase.
This story will be updated when the N&O hears of more apiaries selling blue and/or purple honey.
This story was originally published September 15, 2022 12:06 PM.