It seems to be all about the honey this week, I wonder what that could bee about…
There’s a cute little roadside honey stand I’ve driven past a few times recently and the other day I finally stopped in. I couldn’t help myself, the attractive stand, customer friendly signage, and the honour system payment program drew me in…well, like a fly to honey. It doesn’t get much better than this, for supporting local food producers. (Well, that’s not entirely true, read to the end…)
BC Buzz Honey the perfect local food success story, two buddies getting together and offering a variety of locally produced honey to nearby residents. Sweet. I was especially pleased to see they have both my favourite kinds in stock, creamed and dark, as well as some interesting mint honey which I’m tempted to try.
I don’t eat a lot of creamed honey, because it’s pasteurized and all, which kind of defeats the goal of guilt-free sugar indulgence on the basis that it’s raw and therefore complete with all it’s wonderful medicinal properties. Can’t beat it on warm, buttery toast, though. Mmmmm.
My other sweet encounter was at the Langley Farmers Market where I learned something new about honey and bees from a fellow who knows a thing or two. Fred Hanefeld has been keeping bees and collecting honey on the same property since the early 1960’s, which I’d like to point out, is before I was born.
What I learned when I took a moment to strike up a conversation made me glad I had. In all the years they’ve owned the property Fred and his wife have never used any kind of chemicals on it. The previous owner also didn’t use herbicides and the owner who had the property before that used it for feeding his dairy cows in what would have been mid-1950’s at the latest, before widespread spraying became popular. How’s that for organic?!
In my books, nothing beats this kind of small scale, truly local food production with history, in-depth knowledge, and commitment to quality going back half a century. Wow.
Fred is a man after my own heart, abiding by the philosophy that doing things nature’s way is by and large the more effective option. When I asked him about the health of his bees–you know, because it crops up in the news cycle every once in a while–he told me a fantastic story about a number of colonies he bought years ago who all turned out to be sick. Over the winter he fed them honey (which has many medicinal benefits, as you know) instead of the sugar water that commercial producers feed (sugar is more cost-effective, after all). And, after feeding those sick bees genuine organic honey, they were all in fine form come spring and he’s never had an issue since.
That story gives me a sense of hope about our current bee crisis. That if we feed them quality, medicinal honey which heals them from the inside out as nature intended and allow them to live on quality, unpolluted land, they can develop the immunity they need to survive, offering us a possibility to counter the doomsday predictions of no bees, no food. I like that ending better.
The other tidbit Fred offered from his wealth of knowledge is something I’d never considered: what makes honey different colours. I suppose I thought it had something to do with processing if I’d ever given it a moments thought, but Fred told me the colour changes according to the source of pollen the bees collect. Some honey can be almost clear, but my favourite, the dark the better, comes from wild flowers. Sweet.