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By Ariane Fleischmann

About eight years ago, Stephen Sandve took a walk down Main Street in Vancouver on Car Free Day. There, he came across a booth that housed a bee hive. The woman running it happily shared her knowledge with Sandve as the bees buzzed about their hive.

Sandve went home that day on a mission: to learn all he could about bee-keeping. After joining a bee club in Richmond and diving deep into YouTube, he took the plunge one year later and bought the equipment he’d need to set up his own hive in his backyard. He sourced his first bees from a local apiary. By the end of summer, Sandve had already expanded his hobby to three hives as his bee population expanded. EastVan Bees was in business.

“It was totally a hobby,” says Sandve. “As my hives grew, I needed placed to put them because you can only have a maximum of two hives per residential property by law. I hit up friends to put bees in their backyards.”

East Van Bees
Image courtesy of East Van Bees

Up until 2016, Sandve still worked another full-time job. But a cancer diagnosis changed everything. After six months away from his desk job to undergo treatment and recovery, Sandve was faced with a decision: His old job was no longer an option, so he could either search for a new one or take a leap and pursue bee-keeping full time. “You only live once–cancer showed me that–so I went for the bee-keeping,” he says.

With more and more hives needed every year, Sandve decided to start the Host a Hive program. Interested parties can apply to host a bee hive in their backyard, which Sandve sets up, cares for, and harvests. The 2018 season is fully booked, but for locals interested in hosting in the future, Sandve says the requirement is a suitable backyard, somewhere bees and humans can co-exist. Hosts and backyards are vetted by Sandve, who says most hosts do it for a love of bees. About 80 percent of their hives are located in East Vancouver, but they also have some in other parts of Vancouver, as well as Richmond and Burnaby.

Almost immediately after the first harvest, many years ago, Sandve noticed something delicious about neighbourhood hives: each one tasted different. “It’s because whatever is in that neighbourhood, the bees are collecting,” he explains. “Some neighbourhoods have really nice streets lined with linden trees, or they’re near a ravine with lots of blackberries, or there’s a predominant [plant] in that area the bees like. Bees will travel to get nectar, but they don’t want to go any further than they have to, so they stay in the neighbourhood.” As a result, hives located even just a few blocks from one another may taste different.

“Urban honey you can go from a really nice floral, sweet honey, to a dark, almost molasses-caramel-smoky flavour.” This variance led Sandve to label his neighbourhood honeys so that you know where each batch comes from.

EastVan Bees also has a farm in Richmond. Because the honey harvested there doesn’t have the distinct neighbourhood flavours of their Host a Hive honeys, Sandve uses it for their spicy chilli-infused honeys and creamed honeys. They also use their honey for a number of other products, including lip balm, candles and–in true Vancouver fashion–beard oil.

For visitors and locals, the best places to find EastVan Bees products are at their stockists in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Kimberley, and Hagensborg. They also regularly sell at markets in Vancouver, where you can also check out other tasty food, drink, and goods. Want to consume EastVan Bees honey in beverage format? East Van Brewing hosts a hive at their brewery and uses the harvested honey in their Humble Hive English Brown Ale.

Image courtesy of East Van Brewing Co.

Sandve says he has no grand plans for expansion. For him, the bees always come first. “You never know… it’s agriculture: one year, we could get nothing, and the next we could get three tonnes of honey,” he says about his harvests. “That, for us, is not what we’re all about. I do it because I love bee-keeping and I love bees. Selling the honey and the candles and all the rest of it helps support me to continue bee-keeping.”

East Van Bees
www.eastvanbees.com

By Joyce Chua, Vancouver Foodie Tours

Sticky, sweet, and delicious, British Columbia’s honey is an indulgence for food lovers. Each of the over 300 varieties of honey in North America can be a chef’s best weapon, a barista’s secret touch, and home cook’s finest ingredient.

Here are three delicious ways you can try local honey in Vancouver:

1. Rain or Shine Ice Cream

1926 W 4th Ave, Vancouver BC

The organic floral alfalfa honey from Aldergrove Farm, about 60km east of Vancouver, sweetens the honey lavender ice cream at Rain or Shine Ice Cream. Every scoop also features lavender is sourced from Tuscan Farms in Maple Ridge, BC. Refined and refreshing, the locally grown flavours work perfectly in tandem.

2. Tuc Craft Kitchen

60 W Cordova St, Vancouver BC

At Tuc Craft Kitchen in Gastown, their supply of local honey is specially reserved for the cocktail bar. James, an owner of Tuc, receives honey from his father’s farm in Langley, just an hour’s drive from his restaurant.

Tuc’s Puebla Margarita wouldn’t be the same without a touch of honey to balance out the punch of Hornidos Resposados Tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde liqueur, lime, and piri piri bitters. This, with a side of crispy parsnip fries and Tuc’s famous pork belly crackling makes for a marvelous afternoon.

3. Wildebeest

120 W Hastings St, Vancouver BC

Meanwhile at Wildebeest, a Vancouver restaurant known for a meat-centric menu, Hives for Humanity honey bookends their menu. Hives for Humanity is a local non-profit with bee hives at an urban farm located a few blocks away from Wildebeest.

Honey is paired with their house made charcuterie; the sticky and sweet honey contrasts the cured and salty meats. To finish, make it an all sweet finale with an immaculate honey tart, milk ice cream, and fresh honeycomb.

Vancouver Foodie Tours runs food tasting and cultural walking tours to explore to one-of-a-kind dishes that define Vancouver’s culinary scene. Find out more at foodietours.ca.

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

by Kathy Mak

Winter may seem an unlikely time to visit an outdoor farmers market in Canada, but the milder climate in the Lower Mainland allows the markets and abundance of seasonal products to thrive. Deserving of more recognition, a winter market’s appeal lies not only in the quality and range of offerings, but also in knowing that it’s served by a passionate community of both food artisans/farmers and shopping foodies, all prepared to brave the elements in support of fresh local products. The charm of a winter market is in the smaller and manageable crowds. With shorter line ups, there’s time to sample and chit-chat with merchants. Live entertainment, food trucks and heating stations are also on hand to add some extra warmth.

To visit a winter market is to crave comfy and warming flavours. It’s easy to take inspiration for cozy dishes from the bounty of seasonal products that are locally grown and sourced, from healthy preserves and sturdy root vegetables to hearty ingredients. The vibrant Nat Bailey Winter Market is the largest of the outdoor winter markets in Metro Vancouver, operating on Saturdays from November to April on the perimeter of a popular baseball stadium. Although this market is located in Vancouver, you’ll take pleasure in the sensational range of regional products represented, including Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford.

On this or any Saturday, grab your down jacket and come sample the Valley’s most comforting flavours at the winter market!

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Lorne Stapleton worked in the retail meat market industry of Greater Vancouver for over four decades before launching his handcrafted sausage business, now called Stapleton Sausage, based in Surrey. He and his family (daughter Jennifer and son Michael pictured below) are committed to making sausages that are full of goodness and flavours; therefore, they use quality lean cuts (pork, poultry, lamb, beef and bison) and ingredients that are all local, natural, low in sodium, gluten free and contain no MSG, nitrates or other artificial preservatives. Stapleton sausages have been praised for being non-greasy and for their unique range of family inspired recipes. Choose from over sixteen flavours, such as Chipotle Cheddar, Duck Sausage with Blueberry, Sweet & Sour Pork with Pineapple, South African Boerewors, or Bison Andouille. These mouth-watering flavours and more are available at the winter market plus at select grocery stores throughout Metro Vancouver.

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The Langley Organic Growers is a collective of organic farmers where Julia Sandor is a member. She creates a range of certified organic sauerkraut products, called Biota, that are made with in-season cabbage, carrots, beets, horseradish, and herbs that are all grown on her farm in Abbottsford. These products are alive and naturally lacto-fermented, providing probiotic properties and other health benefits, as well as preserving many of the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables for use in the winter.

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Located in South Burnaby, Urban Digs Farm is the only farm in Metro Vancouver raising pigs in an urban environment. Their heritage breed of Berkshire and Tamworth pigs are nurtured organically in the pasture to be happier, tastier and nutritionally superior. Founded by Julia Smith and Ludo Ferrari, the farm is focused on ethical, sustainable meat products and whole animal butchery with custom cutting/smoking and organic products that include bacon, lard, ribs, steaks, roast, ground pork, chops, hocks to pepperoni. Urban Digs Farm products can be found at the winter markets or online. Visitors are welcome to their farm, opened on Saturdays (10-2) in the winter.

Cook Biota’s sauerkraut, Stapleton’s sausages and Urban Digs Farm’s ham hocks in wine, along with potatoes from Langley Organic Growers, and you’ll have the makings of a hearty Choucroute, a famous Alsatian dish.

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Beautifully handcrafted preserves are the specialty and passion of Genevieve Blanchet at Le Meadow’s Pantry, based in Burnaby and Vancouver. Inspired by a lifelong interest in wholesome living and preserving foods for off-season eating, she transforms local fruits into jewel-like jams, jellies and marmalades with French country flare. Her artisan preserves are made in small batches and copper pans to maintain the nutrition and vibrancy of the fruits. Hand-pressed lemon juice, pure cane sugar and honey are added in conservative amounts with no additional preservatives or colouring. Some of the preserves are combined with vodka, gin, vanilla extract, and bitters from local distilleries. The thick-cut marmalades, especially suited for winter enjoyment, include easy-to-love flavours such as Orange Vanilla Dream, Bitter Sweet Morning, Lemon and Vodka, Midnight Candy, and Grapefruit Smoked Sea Salt. Le Meadow’s Pantry preserves are found at the winter markets and variety of retail shops in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia and other parts of Canada.

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Did you know that it takes over 500 worker honey bees to gather 1 pound of honey? Liz Graham knows as she has owned a bee farm, Jane’s Honey Bees, for fifteen years. While she is based in Surrey, her bees (700 hives, each with 20-50,000 bees) forage for flowers throughout the Fraser Valley – Blueberries in Surrey, Raspberries in Abbotsford, Cranberries and Blackberries in Richmond, and wildflowers in South Surrey and South Langley. The pure local honey products from Jane’s Honey Bees are sold only at farmers markets.

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Winter Farmers Markets in Metro Vancouver

Nat Bailey Winter Market (Vancouver) – Saturday, 10-2 from Nov to April 17

Hastings Park Winter Market (Vancouver) – Sunday, 10-2 from November to May

Port Moody Winter Market (Port Moody) – Sunday, 10 am from November to April

Cannery Farmers’ Market (Steveston, Richmond) – Sunday, certain dates, 10-3 from October to April

Royal City Winter Market (New Westminster) – Saturday, 1st and 3rd, 11-3 from November to April

By Tim Pawsey

Most travelers are familiar with Abbotsford viewed from a busy stretch along Highway One, but even a few minutes detour off the road in either direction can lead to hours of entertainment fit for the whole family. Abbotsford is also easily accessible from Washington directly through the Sumas-Huntingdon Border Crossing.

Coming from Vancouver, take exit 92 South and follow Clearbrook and Vye Roads to discover Maan Farms, a multi-faceted, small scale theme park that puts on a different, happy face according to the season. In fact, there’s so much to do that families often come here for a good part of the day. Drive up to the large parking lot and you might be greeted by a display of pumpkins or a cornucopian show of mouth-watering fruits and vegetables. However, there’s  more than meets the eye at this spacious farm market, where, while Mom and Dad are tasting through Maan’s estate made fruit and grape wines, the kids can hang with the goats or pet rabbits at next door’s petting zoo, and make friends with a veritable menagerie of farm animals, from pigs to sheep and peacocks.

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Beyond the paddock awaits the “adventure zone,” with its pedal cart track (with cars for wannabe racers big and small), a giant air-filled bouncing pillow, a wooden fort for climbing, and miniature zip line, to take it all in. A prime lure in fall is the corn maze—scarily haunted in Halloween; while, in a massive burst of orange, a giant pumpkin patch appears across the road.

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All those pumpkins get a welcome helping hand from a hive of visiting bees, that every year ensures the best crop possible. Such purposeful pollination comes courtesy of Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm & Meadery, a few minutes west, just off Huntingdon Road. Part tasting room, part apiary and educational centre, Campbell’s offers everything you need to know and understand about bees, from beginning to end. Owner / apiarist Judy Campbell heads a team that does it all, from wrangling 400 plus hives to extracting the honey and even making mead. Visitors to the overflowing boutique and gift shop have a chance to sample over a score of flavoured honeys, including the likes of jalapeño, chocolate mint and licorice. In addition, says Campbell (who has her own bee costume for special occasions) the farm teaches workshops and certified courses for everyone from kids to seniors, as well as making candles, raising queen bees, and selling specialized bee equipment and loans hives to fruit farmers.You could say, she’s as busy as a bee.

Maan Farms
790 McKenzie Road
Abbotsford, 604-864-5723

Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm & Meadery
2595 Lefeuvre Rd
Abbotsford, 604-856-2125