In this episode, we talk with Margaret Lombard (CEO) and Catherine Barry (Dir. of Marketing) from the National Honey Board. The NHB is an organization designed with the express purpose of marketing honey. There are 10 Board Members, consisting of...
In this episode, we talk with Margaret Lombard (CEO) and Catherine Barry (Dir. of Marketing) from the National Honey Board. The NHB is an organization designed with the express purpose of marketing honey. There are 10 Board Members, consisting of Honey Packers, Honey Importers, beekeepers and Sioux Honey who handle more than 250,000 pounds of honey/year and who pay a penny and a half/per pound for every pound over that amount. They have USDA Oversight, and are involved in almost anything and everything honey.
They have an incredible web page at www.Honey.com that has a wealth of information on:
There’s also the NHB Store, where beekeepers can get a lot of free promotional material including brochures, magnets, educational material, material for teachers and more.
The research they do on honey includes the nutritional value of honey, who are honey consumers, who uses honey in retail including consumers, cosmetics, and other uses. Retail sales of honey are declining a bit, excluding the past year+ during the pandemic, but honey use in ingredients is rapidly increasing in a variety of products.
The NHB is also looking at the sustainability of beekeeping, working with the HBHC, the Almond Board, and UC Davis, bringing all this together to form a Bee Health Collective, which you can find on their web page. If that is not enough, know they are working on developing an updated Standard Of Identity for honey.
It is safe to say that almost everything you know about honey today, you know because of the research and/or messaging from The National Honey Board.
Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:
We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. BetterBee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer service, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, BetterBee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com
Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com
This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help ensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode!
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Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com
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Podcast music: Young Presidents, "Be Strong"; Musicalman, "Epilogue". Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott
Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC
Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by the Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.
Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.
Episode Sponsor: Hey, Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow.
Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.
Jeff: Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us. Each week, we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor support. They help make all of this happen and provide us the ability to bring you each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culturehas been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.
We also want to thank 2 Million Blossoms as sponsor of this episode. 2 Million Blossoms is a quarterly magazine dedicated to protecting all pollinators. Learn more on our Season 2, Episode 9 podcasts with Editor Kirsten Traynor and from visiting www.2millionblossoms.com, and that is with a number two. Also check out the 2 Million Blossoms podcast, also available from the website and from wherever you download your podcasts.
Hey, Kim. It's finally June, it's warm. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is go out in the evening into the bee yard where the air is cooling and listen to all the bees humming and processing all that honey. It's very calming, especially after a long day. It's one of my favorite places to go.
Kim: I think the thing I like the best about that time of day is they're curing honey after supper, and if you know where they've been. Seeing my yard, I've got locusts, and I've got basswood, and I've got tulip poplar. I can tell the difference in the bee yard smell between all three of these. The locusts are already done, the tulip poplar is moving as we speak, and the basswood is budding up. It's going to boom in- depending on the temperature, a few days. I've had them around long enough that I can walk out my back door, and I can tell you what kind of honey they're curing.
Jeff: [laughs] That is really cool. I enjoy that. I just like just going out there and sitting, and you see them all lined up on the landing board, fanning on one side of the entrance and opening on the other side. If the outdoor area is quiet, just hearing that humming and the smell, just very meditational I guess. [chuckles] You could put up a sign and make good money by having people come and sit in your yard.
Jeff: How much should they pay for aroma therapy? Hey, that gives me a great idea. We ought to open up a Beekeeping Today Podcast clinic and spa, and charge good money for it.
Kim: There you go.
Jeff: I think it's a great idea. Well, okay, maybe not. We'll go back to the drawing board. Hey, so Kim, you've been working hard on Honey Bee Obscura with Jim Tew, how's that going? What's coming up.
Kim: We've got some good programs coming up. Jim and I have been putting our heads together, We've got one, right about now. People are beginning to evaluate the queens they got their packages this spring. What are you looking for? Where should that package be? What do you do if it isn't? We talk about that for quite awhile because a lot of people get packages and that's how they start, and they haven't been doing this very long. They open up their colony, and it looks fine, there's a brood, and there's bees, and there's some honey, but should there be a lot more brood? Should there be a lot more honey?
One of the things today or one of the things that we talk about is how do you evaluate? How many eggs per day does a queen lay, and how can you figure that out? We talk about that. The other one we got coming up, we've got something called Golden Rules, and that's basically bee yard etiquette, where you put your bees, how you put them, neighbors, all of those things.
We've got one coming up called Kim's Questions. I found a book that was published in 1910 by the AI Root company, that was 150 Questions Answered is the name of the book. I took that book and I had asked Jim some of the questions. Some of the questions are, how much has beekeeping changed or not? We're still doing some things basically the way we did 110 years ago and some things we don't have to worry about.
Jeff: You did one of those this last week, right?
Jeff: In the last episode, so you're doing another series of questions.
Kim: Yes. One that's really hard, how do you kill a colony? If you have to in an emergency or something comes up that you don't have a place to move it and it's causing a problem, how do you kill a colony? The situations leading up to it, and then the actual procedure. That was hard to do because you just try and do everything you can to not kill bees. They do that well enough on their own. [laughs]
Jeff: Not to mention help from all the Varroa.
Kim: Yes. We looked at that problem too, so we got some good stuff coming up. We're having fun doing this.
Jeff: A couple of thoughts on that one specifically is euthanizing a colony and to saving the equipment. Making sure the equipment is usable for the next season or next one.
Kim: Yes, it goes both ways. You just burn the whole thing like with AFB, and some states require it and some states don't. You have some options there, and we look at a lot of that.
Jeff: Hold that AFB thought. We'll come back to that in a little bit. I wanted to go also to the first episode you're talking about with the package queens, but that also applies to people who receive nucs too. You need to evaluate the queen in those, and sometimes you wonder how old is that queen and that nuc. You need to be evaluating that as well.
Kim: Yes, and looking at her performance. It's nice if you've got four or five colonies and you can do a compare and contrast, but if you don't, then you got to make some decisions based on other kinds of information.
Jeff: That's where a mentor or a beekeeping buddy can also help because they'll have their experience and their hives to compare it to as well, and it's helpful. Hey, Kim, you know we have on our fabulous website the ability to leave questions. This last week, we did receive a question on the website, and actually, they're pretty good questions. I think the best thing to do right now is to play the intro to the question and the listeners first question, and then we'll answer it. Then we'll go to our other questions and see what we can do. It's kind of a different twist for our podcast.
Kim: All right, good.
Jeff: All right, let's play the first little bit.
Elizabeth: Hi, Jeff and Kim. This is Elizabeth from Massachusetts. Thank you so much for Beekeeping Today.You keep good company and I learn a lot. You have three questions. My first question is, can you share some information about what a beekeeper can learn from observing, smelling, hearing, watching only the outside of a Langstroth hive? It doesn't replace an inspection, I know, but I'd love to know what else I can learn about my colonies without bothering the honeybees.
Jeff: Hey, Elizabeth. Thanks a lot for your question and thanks for that question, that's really good. What do you think, Kim?
Kim: Well, there are books written on what you are seeing when you watch the front door of a hive. One of them is over a hundred years old, I believe, but there is a lot that you can learn. Where do you start? Are there bees coming and going or there are bees just coming? Are they ventilating the interior of the hive by bees on one side of the front door flapping their wings and moving air out of the hive, and bees on the other side of the front door flapping their wings and moving air inside the hive. You can see that and you could smell it. Is pollen coming in? If it is, what color is it? If you can find out what color it is, what's the plant that it comes from?
That'll tell you a lot about honey flows that may be going on. If all the bees are coming in and all of the pollen is yellow and it is the first week in April, you can probably guess that it's dandelions, but what happens in July and it's all yellow? I don't know. What kinds of things have you noticed?
Jeff: I like to watch that. I like to watch for the type of pollens coming in. I like to watch the activity. Are the bees arriving and leaving with purpose, worker coming in and flying straight into the entrance? Which is how I figure, the more experienced bees, they can just go right in. They're busy, and they're happy, and they're getting the job done. I like to see that there's drones going in and out, making sure, because a healthy colony has lots of drones.
The other thing I'd like to see is just, actually, depending on the time of year, is how many in the middle of the day younger bees are flying? Are they on the training flights and just hovering in front of the hive, and going back in and coming back out? Those are all signs of a healthy hive, in my opinion.
Kim: Another one of the things you should be looking for is robbing. Are bees coming in and is there fistfights going on right at the entrance there, with bees trying to get in and bees trying to keep them out? At the same time, yellow jackets. Are the yellow jackets trying to get in? All those things tell you that you've got trouble inside the hive in terms of us being weak probably, and get in there and take a look quick.
Jeff: I was focusing on the good things, but the bad things, of course, you look for the bees in front of the hive to see if there's a normal few bees on the ground in front, or if there are a bunch of bees on the front? Are the wings they look normal dead, or are the wings crumpled up, or are they k-winged, or are they writhing in apparent pain or whatever? Those are the kinds of things you can look forward too, to see if there's anything amiss. The more you watch and observe, the more you can figure out what's normal looking and when something abnormal happens. You can jump right in and say, "Hey, I better take a closer look." Well, let's listen to the next question here from Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: My second question is, could you please have Dr. Spivak back on to talk about propolis in humans? There's so much anecdata all over the internet, but I'd love her perspective. She teased some of her thoughts a little during her interview last year, and I'm dying to hear more.
Jeff: Marla did hint towards tinctures of using propolis and other purposes, it'd be good to have her back.
Kim: I'm sure she's discovered more, and we can dig a little deeper and find out some of the things that she said. Then, who else? I'm sure she knows the other people that are in the industry that are working on this, so we'll get her back.
Jeff: Great suggestion, Elizabeth. Finally, her last question.
Elizabeth: I keep my bees in Massachusetts, and we have a burn order for all apiaries that contract American foulbrood. Some of the hive types you've discussed recently sound amazing, but a huge initial investment of capital. What could happen if a Slovenian hive gets American foulbrood? Thanks so much.
Jeff: See, Kim, I told you American foulbrood would come back.
Kim: [laughs] Yes, it did. We talked to the Apiary Inspectors of America about that very question. The answer I got is, are you ready for this? It depends. [laughs] Not every state requires burning. Some states don't even have inspectors, some states absolutely require burning, some states you have to send bees in and get it confirmed by the Beltsville Bee Lab, some states have their own bee lab where you can get tested. It's all over the map. If you can't find a reason in your state, because you don't know how to contact the inspector or you don't know who it is, then go to the Beltsville Bee Lab or the Apiary Inspectors of America, and they'll know who your inspector is and how to get a hold of them, then you can get your local information because it's all over the map.
Jeff: The AZ hive compounds the issue because the recommendation is, as you pointed out, Elizabeth, is to burn the hive. One of the things we used to do is, of course, you have to get rid of the frames, and the wax and AZ hive or Langstroth that would all have to go. The structure itself, that's a challenge. I don't have an AZ hive. We're going to have somebody do on a date. We're going to be talking with someone on a deep dive on the AZ hive here in an upcoming episode. We can ask them, but I imagine you could very least pull that unit out and scorch it. I don't know, with a plumbers torch. What do you think, Kim?
Kim: I guess it depends on how the building is built. If it's just a hole in the wall and the hive is sitting on a shelf on the inside, you can probably remove it fairly easily. If it's built into the wall, and there's no way to remove it either from the outside or from the inside, then you've got a problem. It leads you to the question, do I have to burn the whole building?
Jeff: Oh, no.
Jeff: I can just imagine it now going, saying, "Hey, honey, I know I put a lot of money into that hut, but we got to burn it down." American foulbrood, it's horrible. Oh my gosh.
Kim: We'll have get to get those folks back and ask them how they handle that question.
Jeff: That's a really good question, Elizabeth. Appreciate all your great questions. We'll follow up with Marla and the AZ hive question real good. Everybody, you too can leave questions on our website by clicking on the little microphone icon in the lower right-hand corner of each webpage, and we'll answer them here in an upcoming episode. That was fun, wasn't it, Kim?
Kim: Yes, I hope we get more questions.
Jeff: Yes, that was really fun. All right, coming up. For today's episode, we are talking with the National Honey board. I have fond memories of National Honey Board, Kim.
Kim: They started about the same time that I did, so I've been following the whole time I was editor. It'll be good to meet a couple of their staff today. Margaret Lombard is the CEO and Catherine Barry is the marketing director. They got their fingers in a lot of pieces of this industry, so it would be good to find out what they do.
Jeff: Yes, it will be good to get an update. Probably TMI for most folks listening, but Sherry's my wife, who used to work for the National Honey Board, and was actually working for the Honey Board when I met her. Being in their shadow and helping her around, I learned a lot about the National Honey Board, and I saw all the hard work that went into it. That's where I learned, if you're going to put something up, it's going to be high quality because that represents us. I respect the National Honey Board. They do a fabulous job.
Kim: They keep raising above the radar with the work that they're doing for beekeepers and for the beekeeping industry.
Jeff: Yes. I strongly recommend, if you're not familiar with the National Honey Board, go out to their website, see what they have available for you as a beekeeper, as a producer of honey, and take advantage of it. They're doing great work. All right, enough of that, let's get into our interview with National Honey Board, but first, a word from Strong Microbials.
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Jeff: While you're at the Strong Microbial site, make sure you go to the bottom of the page and sign up for their newsletter, The Hive, and receive regular updates about everything about the honeybee. Welcome back, everybody. Sitting across the virtual table from me right now are two representatives from the National Honey Board. They're in Longmont, Colorado. Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast to Margaret Lombard and Catherine Barry.
Margaret Lombard: Hey, thank you so much for having us. Margaret Lombard. I'm thrilled to be here today.
Catherine Barry: Yes, thanks for having us.
Kim: It's good to see you again Margaret and Catherine. We haven't met before, but I'm glad you could make it today.
Catherine: Appreciate it. Glad to be talking about honey and bees today.
Jeff: Cool. Margaret, if you could just start off, introduce yourself and what you do for the National Honey Board.
Margaret: Margaret Lombard with the National Honey Board. I am the CEO of the National Honey Board. I have my colleague here today, Catherine Barry, who is our marketing director and person who's responsible for so many of the programs that we run The National Honey Board, for those of you who don't know, is an industry-funded marketing and research group. We are funded by importers and packers. We do the work of research, marketing, promotion across the board. We're happy to share a little bit more detail about some of the programs that we've put in place, but that's basically who we are. We do have government oversight, but we are not funded by the government. The USDA provides oversight over the work we do, but we receive no government funding for our work.
Jeff: That's changed in the past, hasn't it? It used to be a program funded by beekeepers?
Margaret: Correct. I think it was in, and Catherine can correct me because she knows all the dates, but it was 2008, I believe, was the year that we switched from being a producer-funded board to a packer-imported board. Yes, that has been a change.
Jeff: I remember paying my penny a pound way back when, when I was a beekeeper there in Berthoud, Colorado.
Margaret: We appreciated it, I'm sure.
Jeff: I got my note of appreciation. Yes, I did. [laughs] Now the packer and producers-- No, the packers are assessed for the work. Did I hear that right?
Margaret: Correct. If packers and importers who are packing or importing more than 250,000 pounds per year, pay a penny and a half a pound on all those pounds above 250,000 pounds that are imported or packed.
Jeff: From that, you generate all your programs?
Margaret: Correct. All the research, all the marketing, all the advertising, all the outreach we do, all the industry support we give all comes from those assessments.
Jeff: All right. How is the National Honey Board managed? You as the CEO, of course, day-to-day operations, but there is a board. Who is represented on that board and how's that represented?
Margaret: Right. We have a 10 member board of directors, and those folks are made up of importers, packers, honey producers, and the marketing co-op which represents the bee honey producers. Those folks all provide oversight onto our board. We are right in the nomination period right now, but we're always looking for new board members, and we have created on our website an easy portal for anyone who's interested. If you're interested in serving on the Honey Board or you know somebody who would be great to serve on the Honey Board, we have an easy application online that we're happy to send links. Maybe we can link some of the folks to some of this information. They can just fill out an entry form and say, "I'd like to serve on the Honey Board. Here's why I think I'd be great," or "Here's why I think someone else would be great in the contact information," so we'll follow up with them.
Jeff: We'll make sure we get those links in the show notes.
Kim: You mentioned your webpage, Margaret, and I was just visiting there early this morning. I had to quit because I ran out of time. You have so much information on there. You've done a good job. Share some of the programs that you've got, some of the information you provide.
Margaret: Catherine really-- You should probably speak to this because she's really the guru of the website. honey.com is the website that we have that we create and provide all the research information. There's a honey locator that a lot of folks love that they can join, and it's free to join. If you have a honey company in a small area and you want to get more publicity, sell your local honey to people who are looking for honey in your area, that's a service we provide. Really, we do ongoing research, ongoing recipes are huge. What else, Catherine, is the popular parts of the site?
Catherine: Yes, absolutely. All of those things. We have great recipes on our website. The honey locator has been talked about to help you find honey in your area. Whether if you're looking for a specific varietal or looking for honey from your local area, you have the ability to search for honey on there. It's a great resource.
Jeff: Yes, it really sounds like it. Is that for beekeepers, or packers, or the general public?
Catherine: Yes, it's for a variety of different audiences. It's absolutely for consumers, but we also have other target audiences or segments of the food and beverage industry that we work with. Whether that's craft brewers, or distillers, or chefs, there's a lot of different people that are interested in finding fun and unique varieties of honey. We can point them to that resource for them to find the type of honey or supplier of honey that they're looking for.
Jeff: I can get signed up for that online as well?
Catherine: Absolutely. We have a signup for anyone that produces honey, sells honey, is interested in listing their honey company on our honey locator for people to find. People can sign up. The more people we have on there, the better it is, so we encourage everybody to sign up.
Jeff: Very good.
Kim: It doesn't cost to sign up, right?
Catherine: It does not. It used to have a one-time fee, but we wanted to make this available to everybody and not to have any sort of barrier in place for people to participate and take advantage of it, so we put that fee away.
Kim: One of the things that I noticed that I know that any beekeeper can use is, I call it background information, when they're talking to their customers if they're selling and you got something on there called your press kit, that covers just an encyclopedia of knowledge.
Catherine: Yes, we have a lot of information on there. Fun facts about honeybees, past press releases of the Honey Board announcing programs that we're working on, or newsworthy things that are going on in the industry. That press kit has photos and videos. We encourage anyone that's looking for information on honey, that's a great resource to tap.
Kim: I can go to your webpage and I want to make an ad for my honey in my local newspaper, I can use one of those photos?
Catherine: The photos are used for editorial purposes, so if the end user is going to be a magazine, or a newspaper, or any sort of news station, absolutely, we can share that. For personal use on honey company websites, we do have some restrictions there just based on our licensing agreements, but otherwise, for any sort of news organization, they are happy to use our resources.
Kim: Okay, good.
Jeff: We could use them on our website, Kim, as the podcast. [laughs]
Margaret: Yes. The other thing that we also offer on the website, it's very popular, is our NHB Store. If you're looking for collateral materials, if you're looking for educational materials, we offer those at no cost as well. Catherine, remind me what it's on. Is it NHB Store? Is that what we call it on the website?
Catherine: Yes, on our website on honey.com we've merged it. It used to be a separate website, but we've merged it into honey.com just this last year. Just going down to the footer of our website at the very bottom, there's a link to the NHB store. On there, you'll find brochures, magnets that talk about substitution, or cooking tips, other educational materials or an activity sheets for teachers or students that might be interested in learning more about honeybees and how it's made.
Kim: If I was selling honey at a farm market, I could get some of these brochures to hand out to some of my customers or potential customers?
Catherine: Absolutely, that's exactly what they're for, for people that are selling honey and wanting to share the great information about honeybees and honey and all of its different uses. We encourage you guys to go on there and find those great materials so you can order them and hand them out to your customers.
Kim: I've seen some of them, they're well done and I don't have to do anything, that's what I like. [laughs]
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Kim: Another thing that you mentioned earlier was research. I know you're involved with some of the industry organizations in securing funding or providing funding, how does that work?
Margaret: The research is all funded by the National Honey Board. We do occasionally work with some governments to do grants and things like that. For the most part, the work we do is funded by the National Honey Board. We really falls into multiple categories, but we do nutrition research, which is ongoing with understanding all the human benefits of eating honey and why honey is good for you. We also do consumer research, so understanding the sentiments of folks and how they feel about honey, why they use honey, why they love honey, there are any barriers to using honey. We work on that kind of research.
Then we also conduct what we call volumetric or overall industry research. That's to understand how all the honey in the United States is being consumed. One of the number one charters of the National Honey Board is to increase consumption in the United States for honey, so we like to look at where those channels are. How big is the ingredient market? How big is the retail market? How big is food service? What's going into cosmetics and what's going into breweries, and what's going into all these different channels? Then we tailor our programs, our marketing programs where the opportunities exist.
We do that volumetric study about every five years, but it gives us a good snapshot of how the industry is changing, how the needs are changing, and then how we adapt our programs to fulfill the needs where they are. Ingredient is a huge piece for us right now. Food manufacturers love to use honey. They all like to put it on their labels as we know. They like to put a little bit even in their ingredient decks. We have seen a lot of growth with that, so we have programs specifically designed for outreach to those different groups.
Jeff: What are the changes in the last three or five years that you've noted? What's going up? What's going down.
Margaret: We'd struggled at retail. Some of this data we just got back was pre-pandemic, so we all know that during the pandemic retail sale is crazy.
Jeff: Everything changed.
Margaret: Right, everybody was buying everything that was on a shelf, so we had a fabulous year in 2020 at retail. Prior to that, retail sales had started to soften. You guys may be familiar with some of the dietary trends where we see the high-protein keto diets and some of these elimination diets have become popular. That started to we think affect potentially a little bit of retail, but the ingredient market has continued to flourish. Catherine mentioned craft brewers of beer love to use honey. We have a huge program with that. Spirits has become a big deal. We also see bakers, and we see sauces, and sandwiches, and all those different folks who are using honey in products, those have grown exponentially. That's been a real trend is people trying to get rid of high-fructose corn syrup and other less popular or good for you sweeteners and moving towards honey. That's been a big trend.
Kim: I thought I saw, once anyway, that you sometimes work with university researchers looking at honeybee health, are you associated with--? How does that work?
Margaret: I forgot to mention that. That is actually another big segment of our research, and that's our partnership with Project Apis m, which is our honeybee research partner. You may know Danielle Downey, perhaps she's been on your program before, she's a great partner of ours. 5% of our overall revenue goes directly to what we call production research. That's honeybee research. Understanding what's happening with the bees and funding research with universities and private groups to understand how we can help with some of the ailments that are causing bee decline. That's a big initiative for the Honey Board as well.
Kim: That's good. If I want to find out what you've been funding, is that available or are links available on your webpage to those articles?
Margaret: Most of the research is available, and Catherine, remind me that we just launched a new website called the Honey Bee Health-- What's it called? Collective?
Catherine: The Bee Health Collective. We partnered with Project Apis m to launch a brand new website in 2019. Actually, it was 2020. We funded a new website to really showcase all of the great work that's going on in the industry in terms of bee health research. The National Honey Board funds a lot of bee health research, but there are many other organizations that also do that.
When we were thinking about how could we create something where all of this great information can come together, working with Project Apis m, we launched the Bee Health Collective. There's a lot of great information about all the research projects that are going on, the outcomes of the research, and the practical applications of that research, and how beekeepers can actually start to implement some of those findings into their beekeeping practices.
Kim: Are you working at all with the Honey Bee Health Coalition on their projects?
Margaret: We are collaborative with University of California at Davis, the Almond Board. We have a collaborative where we get together, and we all look at the research opportunities and try to understand where the gaps are, so that we're all working towards and funding initiatives that hopefully move the football forward. We don't want to have everybody working in a silo, so we try to collaborate with the other groups as much as possible so that we're all coordinating our efforts and can make real strides towards bee health.
Kim: Wow. Our government agency that makes sense, that's really good to hear.
You're funding research in both the uses of honey and honey bee health, and you're providing marketing information for every beekeeper on the US, on the planet essentially, right? What have I missed?
Margaret: I think you missed our big news, and Catherine can share that. We do an annual attitude and usage study every year to understand how consumers feel about honey and for 2020 for the first time ever.
Kim: Consumers, they selected honey as the number one sweetener. This was over sugar, who was our number one competitor from previous years in the study. Surpassing sugar for the first time was a big deal when you think about how many people have sugar in their homes and consume it on a regular basis. For honey to overtake sugar as the number one preferred sweetener by consumers, it's a pretty big deal for us.
Jeff: That is really big.
Margaret: It's terrific. The other thing we've really focused on a lot in our marketing efforts is sustainability. The honey industry has a fantastic story to tell in sustainability, which we haven't done a lot of in the past. In the past couple of years, we've created a campaign called Celebrating Beekeeping, where we're really featuring beekeepers and communities, and the impact that their jobs and their impact in the communities and the environment have. We have a whole series of videos on our website as well under celebrating beekeeping.
There's some names like Zac Browning that you may know, there's Sarah Red-Laird who's Bee Girl. We featured a number of- the West Virginia Beekeeping Coalition, who's putting coal miners back to work as beekeepers, now that their job in the coal mines have started to become decreased. We're featuring some fabulous work that's being done in the communities. I think it's such an important story to tell, the hard work of these beekeepers and the labors of love that they do, keeping honey producing in our environment and our community. We encourage everyone to check out that section as well. We think there's some great stories, and we're always looking to feature more people
Kim: Well, compared to sugars, beekeeping is certainly far more sustainable than growing sugar. If you know anything about that crap. Jeff, you've seen this and I've seen this in grocery stores and wherever, how do I know it's really honey? Because there is a lot of discussion on that about, is this stuff in this jar really honey?
Margaret: It's a tough road for beekeepers because it's that hard work that everyone does, and we know that the vast majority, there's always going to be a few bad actors in any industry, but buying from reputable retailers and buying brands that you know and trust. We feel that all the work we've done to test honey at retail, we've looked at a lot of the question marks. We just feel that when you're buying honey, you're supporting beekeepers, and you're supporting the environment, and you're keeping the industry alive. Leave the testing and leave that to the retailers and the folks who are concerned about the products on the shelf, but be prepared to just know that there's a lot of work going in behind the jar that you see at the retail establishment and to have confidence that you're supporting a beekeeper when you make those purchases.
Kim: It used to be that that the best way to do that was to know your beekeeper, but if you lived in New York City, or Philadelphia, or San Francisco, knowing a beekeeper was they were pretty rare and far between, but that's changing now. There's a lot of honey that's available up on the roof sort of stuff. I still go, know your beekeepers is probably the best way, but beekeepers are in a lot more places than they used to be.
Margaret: There's beekeepers around the world too. There's beekeepers in all kinds of countries that are doing fabulous work as well, so don't be afraid of honey from Brazil, or Argentina, or somewhere else as well.
Jeff: I think I've heard somewhere or read somewhere that you're involved in the rewrite of the definition of honey.
Margaret: Not the rewrite of the definition of honey, but what we've been encouraging is the FDA to create a standard of identity for honey. That's something as an industry we do not have, and it will just help defend the industry against imitation honeys or people who are creating honey-like substances and are trying to use the name.
Jeff: Cultured honey or honey from the lab. Every once in a while something like that hits the spam waves of the Twitter feeds, that somebody in some countries developed some microbe that generates honey-like substance and they're calling it honey. With all that going on, that definition is really important.
Margaret: Right. We do have a commercial item description. That is something we work with the USDA to craft. That is something that the government uses when they're procuring a product. It's not exactly a standard of identity, but we felt that it was a good first step in movement towards the standard of identity. That can be found on our website as well. It goes into details explaining just some of the different parameters that we measure to make sure that things are honey.
Jeff: What's the work that is the most exciting right now at the National Honey Board? What is everybody really excited about?
Margaret: That's a fun question. Catherine, you'll have to answer what your fun question is. I think for me getting to know the beekeepers, and learning their stories, and going out in the field, and seeing what's happening in the real world out there, has really been the most exciting part. Going to North Dakota, and going to Wyoming, going to California, of course, in Colorado, we have fabulous beekeepers as well, but traveling the country and seeing the craft that is beekeeping and understanding all the nuances and all the difficulties and the trials and tribulations, has been the most exciting part for me.
Then telling those stories, and bringing those to life, and having people understand the craft and the beauty of a jar of honey when they purchase it, what they're getting. I think maybe we've under-appreciated all the hard work that goes into it and the beauty of the product. For me, that's probably the most exciting part.
Catherine: I would say my most exciting thing that we have really tried to tackle this year in a lot of our programming, is really looking at the impact of beekeeping. Not only are beekeepers producing this incredible jar of honey, as Margaret so beautifully talked about just there, but their impact on our overall food supply. Talking about that one-third of our diet is dependent on honeybees for pollination and there's 90 different crops, that's incredible when you think about all the foods that we eat every day and how it impacts our everyday life consumers. I think that is probably the most exciting thing that I'm excited about sharing this year.
Kim: Margaret, this has been fascinating. You guys have more information at your fingertips than I'm sure anybody realized, but what have we missed?
Margaret: Well, there's lots more to cover, and I know your audience may be curious, so please go to honey.com and look at our website. Then we also have an email box. We're always happy to answer questions, take inquiries, take your suggestions. That email address is email@example.com. Feel free to use that if there's something you can't find, something we talked about today that you'd be interested in knowing more about. We love to hear from people. We love to hear what's going on in the industry. Share your information and your questions, and we promise we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Jeff: Great. Now that the world's opening back up, I bet you are looking forward to getting back to conferences?
Margaret: Yes, we are very much looking to party, getting out and getting to all the national and local conferences, and talking with folks. We think that we probably will have our first maybe non-virtual board meeting in October. We're hoping that this is the start of it. I think that ABF and some other of the organizations are planning to hopefully have some in-person conferences next year, and we certainly look forward to attending those and sharing more of the work that the Honey Board is doing.
Kim: That brings up a good question, Margaret. If I'm going to run my state meeting here, can I get one of you people to come and talk to us?
Margaret: We can certainly try. Getting out to the 50 states is a little-- Challenges are travel budget, just a little bit. [chuckles] We're always happy to send something. We also do what I call a year in review video, which is a great way to capture. It's about a five-minute video, and I'll send you a link to that as well. That really is our annual report, but it gives everyone a sense of what the Honey Board's working on. Then again, reach out to me, Catherine, or the generic mailbox and share your ideas and your thoughts about work. We should be doing the ideas you have. We're all ears and we need folks to tell us what's going on because we've all been a little too isolated, I think, this past 18 months.
Kim: I think you've got that right. [laughs]
Kim: All right. Anything else, Jeff?
Jeff: No, this has really been a treat. Margaret Lombard, Catherine Barry definitely appreciate you taking some time this afternoon to be with Beekeeping Today Podcast. Look forward to seeing you down the road at a future conference perhaps and getting up to date on the latest research and other events going on at National Honey Board. Thank you for being here.
Margaret: Jeff, Kim, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having us really.
Catherine: Yes, thank you for having us.
Kim: I just want to add one thing, Jeff, if you're going to go visit the Honey Board webpage, pack a lunch because you'll be there all day.
Jeff: [laughs] I will do that.
Margaret: [chuckles] We hope we make you hungry too while you're there.
Kim: [laughs] Thank you.
Jeff: Wonderful. It's always been wonderful photography. Yes. All right, very good. Well, thanks so much. We'll talk to you soon.
Margaret: Appreciate it. Bye-bye, folks.
Jeff: Hey, Kim, it was great to have Margaret and Catherine on the show. For me, it was the old homecoming for me for the National Honey Board with all my running around I used to do with them.
Kim: Yes, I can see that. I've always been impressed with the work that they do and I'm surprised that that beekeepers don't take more advantage of what they offer for free, but I certainly encourage, boy, if you get a chance, go to that webpage, take a look at the store. You don't have to pay for it and it's good stuff that you can give your customers, it can only help.
Jeff: Yes, it's always been top-shelf photographs, top-shelf information, it's well-produced and put it in a way that a beekeeper can use, pull down, like you said, and use in handout at their honey stand or handout with their honey and be proud of it.
Kim: It's also good to see them supporting the people that are keeping them in business. Beekeepers can't survive because of whatever problem they're having, the Honey Board is going to have a problem because they're not going to have any honey, so that they are providing that assistance to beekeepers everywhere is a good thing. I'm impressed.
Jeff: That about wraps it up for this show. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast or wherever you download and stream the show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find this quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on Reviews along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast.
We want to thank our regular episode sponsor, Global Patties. Check them out at www.globalpatties.com. We also want to thank Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at www.strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Betterbee for joining us as the latest supporter. Check out all their beekeeping supplies at www.betterbee.com. Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on this show. Feel free to send us questions and comments at questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast. We'd love to hear from you. Anything else, Kim?
Kim: I think that about wraps it up for today, Jeff.
Jeff: Yes, it does. Time to go inspect the bees.
Kim: There you go.
Jeff: Thanks a lot, everybody.
[00:47:28] [END OF AUDIO]
CEO The National Honey Board
Margaret Lombard is Chief Executive Officer at the National Honey Board (NHB). Before joining the NHB in 2015, Margaret spent her career in food and agriculture. After earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree from University of California, Davis and an MBA from California State University Sacramento, Margaret held a variety of leadership roles. She has managed national marketing campaigns for large CPG and produce brands. Coming to the National Honey Board was a perfect fit for her two passions, food and sustainably.
In her free time, Margaret enjoys spending time with her large extended family and her three amazing grandchildren. She is an avid gardener and loves to go for a nice long run when time allows. Culinary travel tops her list of best vacations where she can continue to learn more about the people and places around the world that produce food.
Director of Marketing - The National Honey Board
Catherine Barry is Director of Marketing at the National Honey Board. Catherine began working at the Board in 2008 and brings more than 10 years of experience in the honey industry to her role in overseeing the Board's branding, marketing, public relations, advertising and market research efforts. Prior to joining the Board, Catherine worked in sports marketing where she managed community relations programs and organized charity events for five Denver professional sports teams.
In her free time, you can find Catherine surrounded by family and friends. When she's not busy with her daughters’ sports and school activities, Catherine loves exploring Denver's zoos and museums and hosting cookouts and get-togethers. Travel enthusiasts at heart, Catherine and her husband are always planning their family's next big adventure throughout the US and abroad.