We love trying different kinds of local honey, so when we read about avocado honey in Bee Heaven Farms’ summer CSA newsletter, we were intrigued. Farmer Margie Pikarsky wrote: “Every few years, conditions are just right for this awesome, dark, rich honey to be produced. Since avocados, lychees and longans all bloom around the same time, it takes a special year when there are few or no lychees and longans, and a big avocado bloom. This was such a year. The last time we had avocado honey was in 2009, so grab some and enjoy.”
And what’s it like? Pikarsky describes avocado honey as very dark, with a unique flavor and appearance that tastes like molasses to her. Its availability depends on proximity to avocado groves, she says. “Some of the larger beekeepers who provide pollination services overwinter their bees here and take them away in the springtime. I’m not sure exactly how much of that honey is harvested locally. Mainly it’s the smaller specialty producers who bother to keep their honey harvests separated, when they can identify the source(s). Many honey producers just combine it all into one more consistently uniform blend.”
Other very small producers with a few hives might jar up their honey and sell it at farm stands or their friends’ bodeguitas, she says.
It’s been a good year for avocados, too, Pikarsky says. “Interestingly, some came in earlier than expected, while others are running a bit behind schedule.” But the destructive vascular disease called laurel wilt is causing anxiety. “Growers have to be very aggressive removing diseased trees and those surrounding them, as they have confirmed infection through naturally occurring root grafting to neighboring trees within the same row and in adjacent rows in the grove,” she says. “There are still no control methods identified. Some fungicides (for the wilt) and insecticides – particularly malathion – for the beetles, are being tried out in commercial groves. It’s a little scary, thinking about systemic treatments (the fungicides) having the potential to enter the fruit.”
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has created a website called Save the Guac to educate the public about laurel wilt.