Joining an elite circle of our nation’s top artisan food makers, Pittsburgh’s own Apoidea Apiary was named a winner during the 2015 Good Food Awards ceremony at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on January 8. Honoring products that embody both culinary excellence and environmental responsibility, the Good Food Awards recognizes superior craftsmanship in the categories of beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, pickles, preserve, spirits, oil and honey. 2015 was the inaugural year for the honey category.
The journey of Apoidea’s award-winning honey began with nectar collected and ripened by Apoidea’s honey bees from fall wildflowers growing along the banks of the Allegheny River, about three miles north of Pittsburgh’s Strip District, near Millvale, PA. This honey was then infused over a 3-month period with locally grown organic rosemary before reaching the tasting spoons of top American chefs, food journalists and gourmands who gathered together in San Francisco last fall to sample the offerings of Good Food Award 1,462 entrants. Apoidea’s Rosemary Infused Dark Knotweed Honey would emerge from the blind tasting as one of only twelve apiaries to be named winners of the honey category.
To craft small-batch honey infusions, Apoidea Apiary meticulously pairs the flavors of Western Pennsylvania raw honeys with a large variety of organic herbs to make innovative culinary blends. The mission of Apoidea is grounded in a recognition of the intimate and amazing symbiosis between flowering plants and the hard-working bee species that exchange plant pollination for much-needed food.
This mission is made manifest not only by Apoidea’s emphasis on the importance of habitat health for natural beekeeping but also in the continued effort to slow down honey consumption by finding innovative ways savor this “liquid gold.” From a bee’s perspective, honey production is very labor intensive. A single worker bee will only make an average of 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey her entire life and bees collectively fly approximately 55,000 miles to gather nectar to make one single pound of honey. This nutrient and mineral rich liquid is important to maintaining bee health as feed during cold months when flowers are not blooming. In Western Pennsylvania, individual hives need an average of 70-100 pounds of honey to make it through winter while overall honey production has dropped in the last 30 years due to a mix of invasive parasites and diseases. Therefore, every pound removed for human consumption is precious and should be treated with the utmost appreciation.
Apoidea founder, Christina Neumann, is a Carnegie Mellon-trained architect turned beekeeper who applies her design background to a mix of artisan honey production, botanical illustration and landscape design. Christina regards this Good Food Award as “a fulfilling validation of Apoidea’s continued efforts to advance both the culinary craft and ecological stewardship of honey production.” Building upon its Good Food Award success, Apoidea hopes expand production of its craft in the coming year, enabling more and more customers to experience the deep complexities of flavor found in artisanally infused honey.