The Washington Post

Md. lawmakers grapple with the stickiest matter of all — honey

(Frederick bees. (Linda Davidson- The Washington Post))

“Maryland has no definition of what honey is, so anyone can put anything in a jar and call it honey,” David Morris, a Laurel beekeeper, told the Capital News Service. “It looks like honey, but in fact it’s high fructose corn syrup. It’s consumer fraud.”

He is speaking about honey—or stuff that’s called honey— imported from China, which is a problem Maryland beekeepers say elected officials don’t quite comprehend or take seriously.

“Not a lot of legislators in Maryland understand the trials and tribulations of beekeepers,” according to Wayne Esaias, the top spokesman for the free state’s bees. His formal title is president of the Maryland Beekeepers Association.

Esaias and other Maryland bee keepers — they number about 900 -- are throwing their stingers behind a bill that would make it illegal in the state for anything other than pure honey to be called honey.

“It gives us legitimate right to sue those who produce adulterated honey,” Esaias told the Capital News Service.

We (or at least I) can crack wise about the disrespect of Maryland bees and their possibly litigious spokesman, but this actually is a high-priority issue. The news report notes that a thriving bee business is crucial to Maryland agriculture, and the state’s department of agriculture backs that up, saying, “Crops valued in excess of $40 million require or benefit from honey bee pollination in the State.”

“It’s very important that we protect our agriculture and our beekeepers,” said Del. Kathy Afzali, a Frederick Republican, “and the honey bill is the first step.”

Hear that, adulterated honey makers? You trample on Maryland’s real honey at your peril.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.

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