"Blue Honey"- NC Mysterious Treat For 100 Years

By: April Davis
By: April Davis

Each year, several lucky beekeepers in an approximately 50 mile radius of Fayetteville find something special in their bee hives - blue honey. How the honey is made is still a mystery, but those who find it are usually buzzing with excitement.

Beekeeper Jim Norfleet is on a mission.

"It's one of those things where if you keep trying, sooner or later i guess you'll luck out," said Norfleet.

Norfleet is one of several beekeepers in Scotland county hoping to find something rare in his hives.

"We have been in search of blue honey now for the last three years, but unfortunately have been unable to locate it."

Blue honey looks almost dark purple in a bottle next to the honey most of us are used to, and has a slight bluish tint when it's spread. According to beekeepers, it's been showing up in bee hives in a 50-mile radius of Fayetteville for the last 100 years.

"You could say it's like striking blue gold because it's unusual because a lot of people who are familiar with honeys know that it's unusual, and so it's one of those 'alright, look what I got' sort of things," said state bee inspector Nancy Ruppert.

Even if you're lucky enough to get blue honey one year, it doesn't mean you'll find it again.

"It comes on its own. You really can't say well, we're gonna get blue honey here this year. Next year we may get it. Next year we may not," said Norfleet.

This year, beekeeper William Trivette is in luck.

"I'm getting some blue honey, where a lot of people don't get blue honey. It's very rare, and from what I understand, only a few people in the state get it. I've gotten it for the last two years, and hoping to get some more this year."

While beekeepers and bee inspectors alike agree blue honey is rare, no one can quite figure out what makes honey bees produce it, but most have theories.

Some beekeepers believe the berries from huckleberry plants are what make the honey blue."

"I'm just located next to swamp where galberries and huckleberries are located, where other people are not. I think that's the predominate factor," said Trivette.

Former state bee inspector Bill Sheppard is sure that's the case. He says the honey is only made during July and August, and says, "It's usually a time of year where there's not much else blooming, and the berries are busting open either from being ripe or from other insects cutting it, and they'll go there, suck the juice out of it and carry it back to the hive."

Sheppard says some scientists disagree. He says they believe blue honey is made when bees gather nector from sourwood trees growing in soil with a high aluminum magnesium content.

"If it done that, why wouldn't it do it the whole time sourwood is blooming? Why would it do it the last two or three buds on the end of the sourwood - when the blueberry starts to bust open?" asked Sheppard.

So far, Norfleet hasn't found the special honey in his hives - but he figures he has until next month for it to appear, so he's not giving up hope.

"We are spread pretty much all over the county here with bees and hopefully some bees in one of those areas will find whatever the magic is that makes that honey."

Whether it's huckleberries, aluminum magnesium, or just plain magic that makes blue honey- beekeepers say it's a welcomed treat that everyone enjoys.

"I have several customers calling wanting it. They will buy that over regular honey. They like the taste of it. It has a stronger taste that they prefer over the regular honey." said Trivette

He says it's the taste and the color that has the Sandhills of North Carolina abuzz with excitement and curiosity when the honey is harvested in the fall.

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  • by erf Location: Vanceboro on Jul 22, 2011 at 06:34 AM
    No mystery, my bees make blue honey in the late summer. I live in Craven County.
  • by Formerly O.L.I. Location: ENC on Jul 22, 2011 at 05:27 AM
    It's no mystery. I knew a girl who's parents farmed and kept bees. She said if the bees visited the blueberry bushes, the honey turned blue.

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