Penn State Health honey entered into Farm Show contest

January 13, 2017

HERSHEY, Pa. — For centuries, people have suspected that honey could help with medical problems ranging from wound care to cough suppression. More recently, studies have proven some of those claims to be true.

That’s part of the reason why Penn State Health put two bee hives on its Hershey campus, and why this year — for the first time — the health system entered its honey in the annual Pennsylvania State Farm Show apiary contest.

“Getting something new like this started is always tough, so this was the first time we were able to extract from the hives,” said Scott Stanley, a study coordinator in the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

Stanley manages the hives together with Dr. Andrew Freiberg, a pediatric hematology/oncology physician. “We got 30 pounds of honey, which is about two and a-half gallons,” he said.

Once all permissions and labeling were approved, the honey — extracted in August — was sent off for judging. It was scored according to its moisture content, flavor, and freedom from crystals and foam.

Stanley doesn’t know how it placed yet — only that it was not among the top 10. He won’t be able to read the judges’ comments until he picks it up at the end of the Farm Show, but he suspects points were deducted for some crystallization that may have happened during storage, as well as a lack of filtering.

“It’s a learning experience,” he said.

It’s also a way for the organization to promote its focus on community involvement and care for the environment.

The hives were installed as part of the creation of the Hershey Community Garden. Located on the Medical Center campus, the garden is a joint project with The Hershey Company, Milton Hershey School, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and The M.S. Hershey Foundation. The garden provides community members with a place to cultivate both gardens and friendships. Gardeners have opportunities to participate in on-site educational opportunities, hands-on gardening demonstrations and garden festivals. Excess food produced is donated to the Hershey Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House, the Hope Lodge, and stable workers at Penn National Racetrack.

“When people think of the Medical Center, they don’t automatically think of this,” Stanley said. “This is something for the community, and something that helps give them a total picture of what we are about.”

Dr. Ian Paul, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital, conducted a study that found honey to be an effective alternative to over-the-counter cough medicines for children, but without the potential side effects. Honey should never be given to children under age one.

Stanley said honey is also used to absorb excess liquid from open wounds and promote healing. Other hive products such as propolis — or bee glue — and royal jelly, a milky secretion that worker honey bees produce, also are commonly used to alleviate some health problems.

“There is a big push now for honey in medicine,” he said. If the hives produce honey again this year, Stanley said the organization would like to enter it in the Farm Show contest again, “especially if we can get a better product."

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 16, 2017