Yesterday, in honor of the International Day of the Honey Bee, J and I hosted a honey tasting, including some comb from our two block diet hive. J and her daughter made some cute bee balloons to lead the neighbors to the event, which was graciously sponsored by a small grant from the Little Mountain Neighborhood House Small Neighborhood Grants program.
J has an awesome bee garden. This is a variety of monarda, aka bee balm. J has a monarda with red blossoms which the bumble bees like and I have a wild variety in my garden with mauve blossoms.
These are the nectars which will inevitably form the floral bouquet which will find its way into our honey. The bees have obviously done a great job pollinating this cherry tree. The raccoons will be happy!
Clover honey is one of the most common of the monofloral honeys in Canada.
Jerusalem artichokes are a great fall food source for bees, but be advised that they can be a very invasive plant.
Lavenders are excellent bee plants and you can really taste the floral oils in the honey made by lavender fields.
In fact all the plants in the mint family are wonderful for bees.
We laid the honeys out from left to right, with the lighter honeys first, just like you would in a wine tasting. I put out some sheets where people could write their tasting notes, with guides such as: viscosity, mouthfeel, aroma, color, and taste.
This linden honey was a favorite of a few people, including me. One person said it tasted like Indian sweets and rose water. I thought it had a bit of lemon peel in the finish.
These are the darker honeys, with buckwheat near the end and finally a honey with propolis which has a funky piney medicinal taste people either love or hate. Buckwheat honey has an earthy, rich molasses, malty flavor. When I was at UBC farm this week someone had brought a tea cake made with whiskey, coffee, and buckwheat honey that was absolutely gorgeous. I've got to get that recipe!
I also gave away some of my friend L's great handmade paper embedded with seeds. She describes this guerilla gardening project on her website.
It was a drizzly day, so unfortunately we couldn't open up the hive, but I showed a few local beekeepers what our set-up looked like. There were a few bees huddling inside the entrance peeling out at the rain, and a few brave foragers who were making foraging trips. One of the boys who came by was writing a paper for school on colony collapse disorder, so he was very keen to take photos the next time we do a hive check.
Some people really preferred the lighter honeys such as the fireweed and acacia. In doing research for the tasting I read that there are over 3000 monofloral honeys in the world, with 300 in North America. Once again I was inspired by the mystery and magic of honey. Our honey was a big favorite, with its fresh, complex floral bouquet of white blossoms.
J looked lovely in her leopard spot boots! Thanks to every one who came out to have a taste. Hopefully next year the sun will shine.