On Winning at the honey shows
I am late getting this post up about our tremendous success at the North American and American Honey Shows.
In the meantime, we’ve received a lot of media attention about these wins. The phenomenal public response and support has been truly amazing.
So here are the long-overdue details:
In early January we took some select honeys to both the North American Honey Show in Louisville, Kentucky, and the American Honey Show in New Orleans. These are both highly-regarded and tough shows where the competition is stiff.
What Classes our honey won
To our surprise, our Creamed Honey placed first with a PERFECT score at the American Honey Show. We then took Best In Show. It also took Best In Class at the NAHS. The Creamed Honey class is perhaps the most difficult to win.
As Rick Sutton, the American Honey Show judge, told CBC news:“Their creamed honey was the best I’ve ever judged and tasted. It received a perfect score of 100.”
In addition, our Fireweed honey, which we collect up high in the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains, won first place in the American Show. It took a blue ribbon in the “Extra Water White” class. This is the lightest colour class to be judged.
Our Best In Show creamed honey was sold at a charity auction for $650 US, or $870 Cdn per jar. Our fireweed sold at auction for $250 US or $335 Cdn per jar. (Believe me, we don’t charge those prices on our website!)
Our Cranberry-Orange Creamed Infusion Honey, a seasonal honey infusion created by Amanda, won first place in the NAHS for Creamed Infusions.
And Amanda’s honey sourdough bread also came first at the NAHS for honey bread loaves. She only learned how to make sourdough this winter. Part of her success was that she wrapped it up in one of our large beeswax wraps to keep it fresh.
Oh, and our Swan Valley Honey label, designed by Farm Food Drink, took third at the NAHS for honey label designs.
Strikingly, the Best In Show and firsts were the first times Canadians had ever won in the long history of the AHS.
The NAHS, although new as part of YouTuber Kamon Reynolds’ stupendous North American Honey Bee Expo, was the largest honey show on the continent, with over 1,100 entries.
What These Awards really Mean
These are gratifying and validating wins for us. I try to be humble about what this means, and not let Amanda and myself get too full of ourselves. What I do think, however, is that this recognition helps remind the public several things.
These honey show wins once again raises the profile of good foods produced here in the Kootenay region of British Columbia.This is an area of Canada legendary for good quality agricultural produce. From milk and grains to tree and berry fruits to export-quality alfalfa hay, our valley rocks.
They also remind the public about the value of pure, raw honey. This wholesome, good food doesn’t need to be wrecked by overheating or pasteurizing. The public craves good local food, and our honeys fit that bill quite well.
And lastly, I think these wins also help other beekeepers as well. I have a phrase I like to use about “a rising tide floats all boats”. It means, in this case, that when our little company does well that others also benefit.
Why The Public cares
The public understands that beekeeping is hard and that we face huge headwinds in keeping our little friends alive and healthy. Diseases, pests, pesticides, changing climate and changing agricultural forages all play hard against our bees.
So when they do well, and by consequence we benefit, then I think all beekeepers by class benefit.
Yes, it was Honey Bee Zen and Swan Valley Honey that won these prestigious awards because of our honey bees. But in doing so I think all of my local beekeeper friends and competition benefited. It keeps our collective efforts and goals top-of-mind for the public.