The mead bar at Planet Bee Honey Farm in Vernon, British Columbia, is buzzing with activity. In this wine region of Canada, visitors can get a taste of alluringly named varietals of mead (think Raspberry Romance, Blueberry Bliss, Apricot Elixer and Blushing Cherry Mead) while finding out more about honey and the bees that produce this food of the gods.
Planet Bee is a bee farm and educational attraction, where you can taste different flavours of Okanagan honey as well as stock up on other bee products. The retail shop sells royal jelly, beeswax candles and a range of different types of honey including cinnamon honey, Okanagan wildflower honey and premium clover honey.
Mead is a honey wine produced by fermenting the sugars out of honey instead of grapes. The variety of honey available in the Okanagan provides the opportunity for honey farms to produce many types of mead, such as spiced or fruit mead, dry or sweet mead.
It’s all about the bees
At Planet Bee, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll meet the owner, Ed Nowek, who turned his passion for bees into a business. Watch this video and find out what Nowek has to say about bees:
“The part about the bees that always infatuated me was how everybody worked together and one hive could produce about 150kg of honey a season. My passion is bees and sharing the information about them with other people,” says Nowek.
Nowek’s goal is for everyone who stops in at Planet Bee to leave with a little more understanding and less fear of bees.
This is done through presentations and video loops to help people understand more about the bees. “Bees are not looking for people to sting. They’re looking for flowers,” he says.
What does the future look like for bees?
The future of the bees is as important to humans as it is to the bees. Bees pollinate around 1/3 of the plants we eat.
In the last decade, bee populations have been dying off at disturbing rates around the world. The phenomenon is called colony collapse disorder. The worker bees in the colony disappear leaving the queen in the hive.
Scientists believe the reason for colony collapse disorder is due to exposure to agricultural pesticides and invasive parasites.
Discover British Columbia
The Okanagan Valley is a fertile farming region with many farms and orchards. The farm-to-table concept has taken off over the last few years. Read this interview for a local perspective and try this recipe and this recipe.
Here are a few farms to visit in the region:
Planet Bee Honey Farm is at 5011 Bella Vista Road, Vernon). Find out more about this honey farm.
Davison Orchards Country Village is next door to Planet Bee. It’s a fun family farm with a farm store stocked with goodies, café, farmyard and train tour. Try their peach, cherry and apple pies.
Arlo’s Honey Farm (4329 Bedford Lane, Kelowna) offers bee education tours (by appointment) and guided garden tours. The gift shop sells honey, beeswax, propolis, fruit, berries and vegetables.
Meadow Vista (3975 June Springs Rd, Kelowna) is another honey farm. It produces Blueberry honey from bees that were pollinating blueberry fields.