Frequently Asked Questions About Honey
And Answers by Lola Canola
Is this honey pasteurized?
Is it okay to eat unpasteurized honey?
Yes, absolutely. Honey is not pasteurized to destroy bacteria, it is pasteurized to liquefy it and give it a longer liquid shelf life. The word “pasteurized” is not actually an accurate term and it is being changed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on honey labels in the next year. Honey is naturally antibacterial so it does not need to be pasteurized.
How long will this honey last without spoiling?
Stored at room temperature, honey will last indefinitely without spoiling. That is because it has antibacterial properties. They’ve found perfectly good honey in the pyramids of Egypt, or so they say….It was used by ancient Egyptians to embalm bodies….
How long will this honey last without crystallizing?
Each batch is slightly different. In general it should last about a month without crystallizing. Because it is not “pasteurized,” it doesn’t stay liquid as long as honeys from the store do.
What do I do if it crystallizes?
Crystallization is a perfectly natural process. It is what all honeys like to do—just at different rates depending on the floral source and depending on how much it has been heated. To return the honey to liquid, it should be gently warmed. Place the container in hot but not boiling water and let it sit. Some people microwave their honey—just do it at a lower power level.
What do people mean by “raw” honey?
Raw honey has never been heated above 35 degrees Celsius—the temperature of the hive. People like to eat it because it is seen to have health-enhancing properties because of the live enzymes it contains (they have been added by the bees). It is also often unfiltered which means that it contains micro particles of pollen and propolis also considered beneficial for the health. In this area, raw honey also tends to be very hard.
Do you carry raw honey?
In the new season we will have raw honey. If you’d like to place an order, please call 1-877-921-3657 and leave your name and phone number.
Is this honey organic?
No, this honey is not organic. In order to produce organic honey, a beekeeper must have a 6k radius around his/her hives of land that is not sprayed. In this area, that is impossible to find. It would mean moving to another area. This honey is produced though using minimal chemical intervention in the form of medicines or other treatments.
Where is this honey from?
This honey is from yards in the Bon Accord area.
What are the floral sources of this honey? (What are the bees feeding on?)
The floral sources are primarily from the nearby fields—alfalfa, clover, and canola that are Alberta’s three main honey plants. The bees also visit all of the flowers in the ditches and in the river valley including caragana, sweet clover, dandelion, hawkweed, and goldenrod.
What is buckwheat honey? Why is it so dark?
Buckwheat honey is from the nectar gathered by bees as they visit the buckwheat fields in bloom. The nectar that a bee gathers will determine the kind of honey—each flower has its own properties, some are subtly different, some are very similar to others. In the case of buckwheat, the honey produced is strong and dark—almost like molasses. It is from Manitoba; buckwheat doesn’t grow very well in Alberta.
How do you know what flowers the bees go to?
Beekeepers can “manage” the bees by placing them in certain areas where one flower is dominant. It doesn’t mean that they don’t go to other flowers but they do go primarily to one flower and the properties of that flower’s nectar is dominant in determining the properties of the honey. Also, the beekeeper can harvest honey strategically, for instance, any honey harvested before the canola blooms won’t be canola honey. And finally, the beekeeper can just let the bees do their thing and get the honey tested for floral sources afterwards to see where they went.
How do you test for floral sources?
The Alberta Honey Producers Co-op does the test and it basically means looking at a smear of honey under a microscope. The technician can identify the various types of pollen grains and will determine out of a hundred which grains belong to which flower. That will give you a percentage—for instance a honey could be 82% clover, 16% dandelion, and 2% other.
Do you produce varietal honeys?
We’re working on it! We have managed to produce very small amounts of willow and a fairly good crop of dandelion honey. The bulk of Lola Canola’s crop is from the summer honey flow (from the beginning of July until the middle of August and it’s primarily alfalfa, canola, and clover.
What is pollen?
Pollen is a dusty substance produced by flowers in order to reproduce. It is the yellow stuff you get on your nose when you sniff a flower. Bees pick it up and mix it with small amounts of nectar into little pellets that they carry on “baskets” on their back legs. They take it back to the hive and pack it in the honeycomb. It is an important food for bees—it is their protein source. (Honey is their carbohydrate.)
What do people do with it?
They will eat it right off the spoon or they sprinkle it on cereal or put it in a smoothie. You can eat it any way you want as long as it is not heated.
Why do people eat it?
Generally, they eat pollen for energy. It is seen to be a “superfood” because it is high in protein and it contains traces of all vitamins and all minerals and it has live enzymes. It is seen to have a positive effect on a number of medical conditions.
Will it cause an allergic reaction?
Yes, if you have a pollen allergy or suspect you do (do you have hay fever in the spring?), then you should not eat it. Many people with allergies eat raw unfiltered honey in order to combat allergies—particles of pollen are delivered to the body at a much slower rate and help build immunity.
How do you get the pollen from the bees?
The beekeeper places a screen on the bottom of the hive that the bees have to fly through in order to enter the hive. They can’t fit through with the pollen in their pollen baskets so the pollen is scraped off and falls into a tray underneath. The beekeeper pulls the tray out like a drawer and the pollen can be cleaned and frozen.
How do I keep this pollen?
This pollen has been air dried (without heat, in order to preserve the health-promoting qualities) and can be kept on the shelf in an airtight container for a number of months. If you are cautious, it may also be kept in the fridge.
What is beeswax?
Beeswax is a natural substance created in thin scales from glands on the underside of the honeybee and formed into the honeycomb in the hive. To produce wax, bees must eat eight times the amount of honey so estimates say that bees fly 150,000 miles to yield one pound of beeswax. Beeswax is not only used to form the honeycomb, the bees also use it to cover, or cap, the honey in the honeycomb cells once it is ripe. As a beekeeper harvests honey, this layer is cut off. Wax obtained from the cappings is light in colour and it can be melted and used to make candles.
What is the advantage of burning beeswax candles?
As beeswax candles burn, they emit negative ions into the air. This is unlike other waxes such as paraffin which emit positive ions that exist in the form of pollution. The negative ions that beeswax emits bond with particulate matter (pollutants) and fall out of the air, thus cleaning it.
Why are there different colours of beeswax?
The colour of the wax can depend on the flowers that the bees obtain their nectar from. The colour can also depend on the age of the wax harvested from the hive. Wax obtained from cappings tends to be very light. Wax can also be obtained by rendering honeycomb from the hive—for instance if a frame breaks during the extraction process. Older combs tend to be darker; brood combs—honeycomb that has been used by the queen to lay eggs and hatch brood is much darker. It must be rendered several times. Often beeswax is blended to produce a uniform colour. We enjoy the natural differences in colour and like to produce candles that preserve their unique colours.
What is a votive?
A votive is an object left in a sacred place for ritual purposes. While votives are often lit in churches or in the home for this reason, they are also burned for relaxation and enjoyment. These candles are hand-poured into molds with 100% beeswax. They will burn for several hours and emit the sweet natural honey smell of beeswax candles.
What is a taper?
A taper is a tall candle that diminishes in thickness as it reaches the top. Dipping a wick over and over again in beeswax makes true tapers. A smooth and beautiful candle is built up as each layer is added. These tapers are hand-dipped six at a time on a small candle-making frame. After they are dipped about twenty times, they are cut off the frame in pairs.