June 14, 2022
It's highly prized internationally for its quality and purity. Since all of the provinces of Canada produce honey, the important question naturally arises of which province produces the best honey in all of the country?
Now my answer will appear biased, but to me it’s obvious that Manitoba honey is the best of Canadian honey and the proof is all around us.
Let's start with what makes some honey better than others. Most Canadian honey is produced in the three prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This is due to the interior plains where the bulk of our crops are planted. Only twenty five percent of that physiographic region resides in Manitoba, so Manitoba honey production only benefits slightly. Although quantity has a quality all its own, what gives honey produced in Manitoba its superior taste is the diversity of its geography and with it the more varied flora that comes with it.
The other prairie provinces have more cultivated acreage, so vast monoculture planting will produce a lot of honey from Canola, sunflowers and even soybeans! Manitoba has a diverse geography of mixed and boreal forest, wetland and riparian environments, tall grass prairie, and the entire Red River Valley is a massive network of rivers, streams, and creeks. The banks of these waterways and the vast, unique and fertile interlake feature a whopping 1,700 species of vascular flora, and over 8 unique vegetation zones!
Always remember: the taste profile of any honey is always dependent on what nectar the bees have collected. In Canada, for honey to be labeled from a specific nectar source such as sunflower honey or dandelion honey, at least 30% needs to come from one single source, and that source must be the majority of all other sources. (We always strive for a minimum 60 percent as upholding the reputation of Manitoba Honey is very important to us!)
Our bees love to wander and sample the diversity of nature's buffet, this chart demonstrates what a sample of one of our varieties might be sourced from.
What of liquid table honey? That’s where Manitoba shines. The vast array of blooms that occur consistently each spring, summer and fall meld together into a complex symphony of tasting notes and subtle esters which produces a distinct and sophisticated range of honey varieties that truly stand out among all others produced not only in Canada, but also the rest of the world.
Over the last decade, the amount of Manitoba honey has increased compared to the other prairie provinces, and this is tied into bee health and nutrition. Massive farms that seed monofloral crops impact the overall nutritional health of honey bees. Even when crops are planted that bees collect nectar from and pollinate, once those blooms are gone there is little else left to forage on. Manitoba has less cultivated land, more wetlands, pasture, forested regions, and lake and river environments that break up or border on these planted regions. These provide all the varied natural flora that bees require for a diverse mixed pollen source and longer if not stronger nectar flows.
Where you place your bees impacts the quality of your honey. That's why we take care when choosing where our bees are, and what is going on around them.
Colours of Manitoba was a display of honey presented to the public at the Manitoba Honey Show a few years back. Beekeepers all over the province were invited to drop off a jar of their honey and put a pin on a map showing what region the honey was produced. The display was an amazing scale of colour and flavour highlighting the difference of Manitoba Honeys even sourced only a few miles away from one another.
Where is the best Manitoba Honey? Know where your food comes from. Seek out local Manitoba Honey producers and buy from them directly. With a little local sampling, you can find an apiary in an area that produces something specifically tailored to your personal flavour palate. Farmers markets, craft sales, highway stands are seasonal sources of some of the finest honey to be found. And when those options disappear, run out, or close for the season, you can always depend on us to tide you over until next season. If you're looking for consistency, high quality and huge variety, you will be in good hands all year round.
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