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Images by Michele Mateus
Words by Alexis Baran

Seven years ago, Teresa Townsley and her husband Bill bought a 5-acre hobby farm in Langley, and got to work on delighting the palettes of wine lovers in BC and any visitor lucky enough to find them. From an unfenced grown-over lot next door to Campbell Valley Regional Park, the two of them have cultivated the land to mind horses; chickens; and best of all (for the rest of us), colonies of honey bees, which happen to help make some of the region’s most delicious varieties of mead.

The tasting room welcomes guests daily May – November

Festina Lente’s specialty is mead, or honey wine. Although it’s made by fermenting honey, the end result is not necessarily sweet. Varieties are smooth and crisp, some with herbal and fruit infusions.

The unique coffee-infused mead, “Zephyr” and the lavender-infused “Flora” are absolute must-try flavours. Far from novelty, these meads are as sophisticated as their most traditional variety (which is the “Nectaris Deorum” mead, which translates to “nectar of the gods”).

The nectar of the gods that goes into this mead is produced on site by thousands of honey bees.

A visit to Festina Lente can also mean a visit to meet their lively horses and their chickens who are dressed up in black and gold feathers.

Herbs grown on-site are used to infuse the mead, such as the fresh ginger in “Minerva Metheglin” which pairs deliciously with many South Asian dishes, such as pad Thai.

Teresa and Bill Townsley, owners

Festina Lente Estate Winery
21113 16th Ave, Langley BC
festinalente.ca

By Jennifer Foden

Have you ever passed by the honey stand at the farmers’ market and wondered why there are so many different colours of the sweet stuff?

“Bees make honey by collecting nectar from flowers,” says Karin Giesbrecht of Lulu Island Honey, a family-owned beekeeping company from Richmond. “Different nectar sources mean different flavours, colours and aromas.” Crystallization also affects the colour (crystals cause honey to appear lighter), as well as the temperature outside (understandably, as there are different flowers in bloom in each climate and season.)

The USDA classifies honey into seven colour categories: water white, extra white, white, extra light amber, light amber, amber and dark amber. Typically, honey that’s lighter in colour is milder in smell and taste; darker honey is stronger.

Because there are so many different types of flowers all over the world that bees can collect nectar from, there are hundreds of varieties of honey.

Image courtesy of Lulu Island Honey

Lulu Island Honey’s hives are in Abbotsford and Richmond, BC. “Canada’s pristine open spaces and northern climate offer perfect conditions for honey production,” says Giesbrecht. Visitors to BC (and Lulu Island Honey) can expect to taste everything from a light clover honey to a darker wildflower variety. “Our current batch has a lot of blackberry in it,” says Giesbrecht.

Want to learn more?
Watch this video for a look at local honey production. You can also find information at www.bcbeekeepers.com

By Lenée Son

Located in the agricultural centre of Surrey, 20 minutes from the USA border, the Honeybee Centre is buzzing with things to do and eat. As a commercial honey farm, the Centre produces their own natural honey which you can taste and purchase at their Country Store. They also have a Visitor Centre, where you can learn about the amazing world of the honeybee through a tour or beekeeping course. Their latest creation, Fry’s Corner Beestro, offers a divine dining experience in a modern greenhouse dining room. Whether you are a honey connoisseur, a beekeeping aficionado, or you are looking for an educational activity to bond over with your little ones, The Honeybee Centre has something for you.

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Fry’s Corner Beestro

Indulge in a decadent honey inspired menu at the Honeybee Centre’s Fry’s Corner Beestro, a revamped modern greenhouse turned bistro. A favourite on their seasonal menu is the prosciutto fig panini, which features prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, honey balsamic fig jam, roasted red pepper, and spinach. For dessert, try the affogato – a rich vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso and local wildflower honey.

Take a trip to wonderland with high tea featuring a luxurious menu including gourmet sandwiches, honeycomb scones with Devonshire cream and New Zealand rewarewa honey, French macarons, honeybee cupcakes, honey cheesecake, and a wide selection of teas.

Your own brood of little bees will be pleased to find a kid’s menu with kid approved eats like peanut butter and honey sandwiches, homemade chicken noodle soup, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Country Store

Skip the pasteurized stuff from the supermarket and pick up a jar of pure, natural, and unpasteurized honey at the Country Store instead. The honey is as fresh as it can get, straight from the hive, extracted from honeycombs, and jarred on site. The Honeybee Centre produces and carries a wide range of natural honey from a variety of floral nectar sources like fireweed flowers (with floral and buttery notes), the rewarewa plant (sweet with a hint of caramel), and kamahi flowers (smooth vanilla aroma with a complex floral finish.)

“We carry honeys that are local, as well from around Canada, a variety from California, Australia, and New Zealand,” says Alana Jackson, a beekeeper at the Honeybee Centre.

Natural body care products, pure beeswax candles, honeybee themed gifts, and medicinal honey and hive products are also available at the Country Store.

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Visitor Centre

After you’ve satiated your honey cravings at Fry’s Beestro and The Country Store, head over to the Honeybee Centre’s Visitor Centre where you can take a specialized tour developed for various audiences, take a course on how to start your own urban honeybee farm, or even take an art class and learn how to make your own beeswax candles.

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The Honeybee Centre & Fry’s Beestro
7480 176 St, Surrey, BC
Phone: (604) 575-2337
honeybeecentre.com