The sweet smell of something blooming is always in the air at Carl and Virginia Webb's North Georgia farm. Their five acre farm is covered with a fruit orchard, blueberry bushes, a rich array of beautiful flowers, and plenty of sourwood trees. When our family visited in mid-May, it was still a bit too early to smell the sweetness of the blossoms often called lily of the valley. Sunny June weather helps lure open the distinct, delicate sourwood blossoms that are unique to this Southern Appalachia area. Then, it's time for the famous work done by 9-million honeybees who are passionate about pollinating the sourwood or sorrel and creating the Best Honey in the World.
|Virginia Webb next to a|
The Webbs' Mtn Honey apiary can boast being two-time winner of a world-class award. The first was in 2005 when they traveled to Ireland for the World Honey Show. Virginia explains, "My husband and I, we carried a lot of honey over there, and we entered that first ever world honey show, and we were surprised. We won first place and the gold medal at the first ever honey show." They traveled to France for a repeat performance in 2009, upstaging 400 other entries from around the world. "We were just amazed to win that best in the world award a second time, the gold medal. To me that is very special. The judge told me what took it over the top was the taste."
Sourwood honey, and particularly that from MtnHoney.com,
is known for its light, smooth taste. When I first had the opportunity to try it at the Webbs' honey house, it reminded me of a buttery smoothness and a fine candy all at once. Luckily, honey is one of those sweet treats without the guilt. Virginia reassured me of its wholesomeness, "Honey is one of those perfect foods that you can eat. It actually contains all of the vitamins, minerals and even water that you need to sustain life."
Although sourwood is the award-winner, the Webbs also produce a popular spring wildflower honey. Virginia says, "I recommend the early spring wildflower honey for people who have allergies. The wildflower honey is a little bit more complex because you have multiple different flower sources, nectar sources, that are involved. But when you're taking honey, you're putting it in your digestive system That's where you build up your immunities to many of your allergies that you have. The honey will have the pollen, the enzymes in it that will help you build up those tolerances to allergies."
There seems to be no end to the benefits of food direct from nature's busiest workers. The Webbs sell bags of pollen straight from the hive that many people think has beneficial health properties. Virginia also cites University of Georgia research that shows small amounts of beeswax ingested daily may actually help reduce our cholesterol. Have a scrape or burn? A little honey on top can help soothe that too.
|Virginia & Carl Webb Examine a Hive|
The Webbs produce their honey naturally, without any pesticides or insecticides. They sell the honey in its purest, raw state, straining out only large particles. They maintain a kosher certification. I asked Virginia why she and her husband don't pasteurize their honey like large-scale producers who sell to most grocery stores. "In order for it to stay on the grocery store shelf without crystallizing, people will heat the honey and make it that pharmaceutical grade or pasteurization in order that it doesn't crystallize. But it also takes away a lot of the flavor that's in the honey, straining the pollen and the very find particles out of the honey, also you lose a lot of flavor, we don't do that with our honey."
Along with their love for each other, the Webbs share a love of beekeeping. Between them, they bring about 90 years of experience to their family owned business. They've won numerous awards and educated countless others. Carl says, "We work together except Virginia handles most of the marketing and sales, and candles...as far as beekeeping is concerned she helps me and we both are knowledgeable in beekeeping situations." Virginia is a third generation beekeeper who grew up learning from her father. "I'm very blessed be a part of this industry. I feel very blessed to have a father who taught me the craft of beekeeping. And my husband and I, we're working very hard to maintain the best quality honey and best quality bees that there are in order to save the honeybee."