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ALBERTA IS BUZZING AS A HAVEN FOR HONEY LOVERS

Author: Heather Egger

Heather scribbles stories by moonlight in Edmonton. Every summer Sunday, you’ll find her out in the countryside chasing two muddy-puddled preschoolers. Cuddled up by a log cabin fireplace in Jasper is her happy place and good food is her passion.

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The snack of “honey spoons” started at our house during flu season. My toddler was too little for cough syrup, so I gave him a teaspoon of honey to calm his cough. Now, given a choice between honey and marshmallows, honey spoon always wins. And I’m certainly ok with that.

Honey is easily digested, packed with vitamins and minerals and it’s locally farmed. In fact, Alberta produces about 40 per cent of Canada’s honey and is the fifth largest honey producing region in the world. Bees love our long summer days and clover, canola and alfalfa crops. And farmers love them back – honeybees are important pollinators and critical to the agricultural industry.

So this summer, celebrate Alberta honey with us. Visit a honey farm, whoop it up at a honey party or just grab a jar and spoon. How sweet it is!

Honeybees up Close and Personal

The Chinook Honey Company’s farm is in Okotoks, just 20 minutes south of Calgary. A guide will tour you around the observation hives, show you how beekeepers keep their colonies happy and share some cool honeybee facts, like this one: did you know that a queen bee can decide whether to lay female worker or male drone eggs? Bees are awesome. The farm also houses a meadery, where you can tour the honey wine fermentation room and have a taste or two.

Before you approach the hustle and bustle of the observation hive, you’ll hear the buzz. Looking closely through the mesh, you can spy the big queen laying her eggs (up to 2,000 of them a day!). See the dancing worker bees delivering their goodies and watch a brand-new baby bee emerging from the wax comb. I could stay here all day but there’s a beekeeping demo next, a honey wine tasting in a few minutes and a so many different kinds of honey to choose from at the shop.

Paint the Town Yellow and Black in Falher

For over twenty years, honeybee fans have donned bobbing antennae headbands and yellow-and-black striped t-shirts to converge on the Falher Honey Festival. Two hours south of Peace River, Falher is smack in the heart of Alberta’s world famous clover honey region, which at its peak produces upwards of 4.6 million kilos (~10 million pounds) of honey a year. Being the Honey Capital of Canada totally explains their 6.7 m (22 ft) high bee statue – the world’s largest honey bee.

In between eating a free pancake breakfast, watching live bands, playing in the big slow pitch tournament and shopping at the Alberta honey market, be sure to take in the Honey Festival’s bee beard demo, where a few brave souls don waggling beards of live bees! Amazing.

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Honey can be used in many different ways. Here's one to get you started!

No-Cook Honey Booster Bar

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. (250 ml) rolled oats
  • 1 C. (250 ml) raisins
  • 1 C. (250 ml) crunchy peanut butter
  • ½ C. (125 ml) dark chocolate chips
  • ½ C. (125 ml) Chinook Honey
  • ½ C. (125 ml) oat bran
  • ½ C. (125 ml) wheat germ
  • ½ C. (125 ml) skim milk powder
  • Optional: ¼ C. (63 ml) bee pollen

Mix all dry ingredients together then add peanut butter and honey, mixing well. Press mixture into pan. Chill and cut into bars. Store in fridge or freezer.
Note: Bee pollen is a great nutrient supplement and has 20-25 per cent protein and all the vitamins.

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