Tracing honey to its source Not liking this one bit, Costco knew it was time to create its own private-label 100-per- cent-pure honey, with no adulteration, no mixing with sugars, sweeteners or who knows what else. But there’s more. “Source verification and buying directly from producers so we can trace Kirkland Signature honey back to the hive is impor- tant,” says Shauna. “A big priority for this program is to also help sustain family bee- keeping farms and attain a net-zero impact on the environment.” This is the essence of True Source, the industry’s effort to self-regulate and guarantee that consumers are buying pure honey. “True Source has pledged to protect its customers and consumers, as well as the global reputation of honey products, by ensuring to its utmost ability that honey is ethically sourced in a transparent and trace- able manner from known beekeepers; that honey moves through the supply chain in full accordance with U.S. law; that it carries truth- ful labeling as to its ource, has been tested to ensure quality and has been handled in a safe and secure manner
from hive to table,” says Shauna. “Members
will find the True Source label on all Kirkland
honey.) “If someone is using ultra-filtration
they might be trying to hide something they
are putting in the product,” says Costco buyer
Shauna Lopez. “If they strip everything out you
can’t test for other sweeteners or determine
what was ever in the product.”
With that in mind, Costco, along with many growers across the coun- try, is contributing to research into the reasons behind colony collapse disorder and to help reverse it. “A portion of all Kirkland Signature honey sales is going to research,” says Shauna.—PV The importance of bees
ACCORDING TO THE USDA, honeybees pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops, which constitute one-third
of everything we eat. Many plants are
entirely dependent on particular kinds
of bees for their reproduction.
In recent years commercial honeybee hives have suffered from colony
collapse disorder, which, for unknown
reasons, has left as many as 30 percent of bee boxes empty of bees.
If honeybees disappear, say
experts, they could take most of our
insect-pollinated plants with them,
potentially reducing mankind’s diet
to little or no fruits or vegetables.
“As bee populations dwindle,
crop yields also decrease, and it’s only
going to get worse if we don’t act,”
says Costco buyer Shauna Lopez.
Party on the prairie
I arrange to travel through the Dakotas
during the summer honeyflow season with
Dick Newnam, Catherine Mason and Jeanene
Rollins, buyers on Costco’s honey team. We
will meet with millions (if not billions) of
bees, two beekeepers at their honey yards and
Costco honey suppliers and packers.
Our first stop is a few hours east of
Sioux Falls at one of the honey extraction
facilities in Artesian, South Dakota (the
state insect is the honeybee), population 157
(and millions of bees).
This beekeeper produces 700,000
pounds of honey per year with 8,000 moveable hives grouped together into 168 bee
yards (apiaries) on land rented from farmers.
The total area is about 32 by 50 miles, allowing more than nine square miles of forage
range per bee yard to prevent overcrowding.
Shauna says, “This undertaking is monu-
mental. A honeybee makes only one-twelfth
of a teaspoon of honey in her entire lifetime. It
takes 60,000 bees collectively visiting more
than 12 million flowers to gather enough nec-
tar to make just one pound of honey.”
Chief beekeeper and owner Brent
Barkman explains, “It’s a simple process for
something so good. Honeybees collect nectar
and store it as honey in their hives. They pro-
duce far more honey
than the colony
needs, so beekeepers
harvest the excess.”
bees visit. Color varies from nearly colorless to
dark brown, consistency from runny to thick
or partly to entirely crystallized. Flavor and
aroma range from mild to bold. (Lighter-
colored honey is usually but not always milder
The color, thickness, flavor and even
aroma of honey
depend on which
flowers the honey-
SEPTEMBER 2012 ;e Costco Connection 67
The Costco Connection
USDA Grade A Kirkland Signature Clover
Honey is P (Passover) kosher certified, and
contains only one ingredient: pure honey.
Available in BPA-free plastic, 5-pound bottles
($12.99*) and three-packs of 24-ounce
squeezable honey bears ($12.59*). *Price
may vary due to shipping.