The Honey Trade of the United States, Domestic and Foreign.
By B. F. STACY, Charlestown, Mass.
This article, which twenty-five years ago formed quite an insignificant article of trade in this country, is rapidly increasing year after year in domestic production; whilst the amount imported is growing smaller. While less is used for pharmaceutical purposes, it nevertheless is rapidly increasing in domestic use. It is also used largely by confectioners, and is an ingredient of many of the fancy beers which have recently become in vogue. Some dealers maintain that the honey which is the product of a cold climate is vastly superior to that of warmer latitudes, which seems almost a contradiction to nature, as Southern lands teem with flowers far excelling as a base of supplies to the bees. One sample that the writer saw from Canada, excelled all others in whiteness, clearness and density. Samples from New York, Minnesota, Vermont and New Hampshire, ranked next in order. The only way to obtain pure honey is to buy it in the comb, as nearly all the strained honey sold in the market bears unmistakable evidence of adulteration; this is, however, so well known and so easily discovered that it is unnecessary for me to dwell on it, and as the adulteration is mostly sugar and occasionally a little starch, to give it a whitish appearance, it is at least harmless; would that all the adulterations now in use were equally so. Out of ten samples purchased of different dealers, eight of them gave plain evidence of having been tampered with, the remaining two being samples from Cuba, right from the custom-house.
"In 1860 the total product of honey of the United States, reported, was 23,366,357 pounds." "New York stood at the head of the list, with 2,369,751 pounds, followed in order by North Carolina, 2,055,969 pounds; Kentucky, 1,768,692 pounds; Missouri, 1,585,983 pounds; Tennessee, 1,519,390 pounds; Ohio, 1,459,601 pounds; Virginia, 1,431,591 pounds; Pennsylvania, 1,402,128 pounds; Illinois, 1,346,808 pounds, and Indiana, 1,224,489 pounds; all other States falling below 1,000,000 pounds." "Since the census of 1860 the statistics obtained have been partial and fragmentary; the statistics of Massachusetts for 1865 showed an increase of 26 per cent., and that of Iowa for same year an increase of 22 per cent. over the figures of 1860.""In the winter of 1868-69 the Department of Agriculture sent out circulars to known apiarians in most of the states, and received returns from 489 counties in 32 states. The aggregate number of hives reported was 722,385." "Estimating for counties not reporting, and making due allowance for the fact that many of the counties reporting were giving special attention to bee culture, 2,000,000 of hives were deemed as low a figure as the returns would warrant. Allowing fifteen pounds of surplus honey to the hive (about two-thirds of the average reported), the total product in 1868 would be 30,000,000 pounds, which at an average valuation of 221 cents per pound, would give $6,750,000." "In 1868 the quantity of honey imported was 212,176 gallons; value, $117,172; of which 90,452 gallons, value $50,569, were re-exported. A very small quantity of domestic honey was exported the same year. These figures show conclusively that an immense trade in honey has been built up in this country and is constantly increasing, which will eventually supersede all necessity of the importation of any from the West Indies." "A small township in Minnesota reports 262 hives; from these hives 2826 pounds of surplus honey was taken in the season of 1869." When we consider that the cost of production is merely nominal, it will be seen that it pays to keep bees.
The writer respectfully acknowledges his indebtedness to the Commission of Agriculture, for the statistical information.—Proc. Amer. Pharm. Assoc., 1870.