Are you dreading pollen season because of your allergies?
Eating honey produced by bees that visit local plants may help, according to local beekeeper Alex Ionita, of Pure Florida Apiary in Bradenton.
His local honey is available at Island Mail and More in the Anna Maria Island Shops, 3230 East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach in several flavors, depending on the plants – orange blossom, saw palmetto, Brazilian pepper, wildflower and mangrove.
To make sure the bees are gathering nectar from those plants, he waits until the preferred plants are blooming, then sets the bees and their hives there. About 85-95 percent of each flavor of honey is from that variety of plant, he said, accounting for the bees’ occasional wandering.
The honey also is raw, meaning that it is not pasteurized, only filtered.
“It comes right out of the hive,” said Ionita, who has been in the commercial beekeeping business for seven years. His mother and sister run a honey shop on Main Street in Bradenton and sell the gooey goody at the Bradenton Farmer’s Market every Saturday.
February, March and April are the peak pollen season for bees, and for allergies, although something is blooming all year long in Florida.
“Since I’ve been in beekeeping, I’ve had no allergies,” Ionita said, adding that he takes one spoonful of honey a day year around, besides taste testing his products, he said.
Ionita works with local orange growers to produce the most popular orange blossom honey. The bees benefit the growers, too, pollenating the trees. Other favorite spots are Robinson Preserve and, until it is developed in the near future, Long Bar Pointe, both well within the 50-mile radius recommended for allergy sufferers.
He no longer keeps bees on the Island because “everything is getting too developed,” Ionita said.