Honey Tasting: Barnaby Thistle from Cougar Canyon Apiaries

While traveling in search of late fall honey in the Okanogan area of Washington State I visited Cougar Canyon Apiaries. I already had a few wonderful honeys from this producer, and wanted the Silver Sage honey that beekeeper Ron Hull had told me about. That honey turned out to be amazing and will be the subject of a future post, but at the same time I picked up a number of other honeys Ron had available, including this Barnaby Thistle honey, harvested on August 15th 2012 from a place called “Fox Mountain”.

Here is Fox Mountain on a cold late fall day (the hives had sat somewhere up at the base of the hills):

Ron is able to get a number of different honeys from this area, depending on the time of year and the weather, which conspire to encourage the blooming of different wildflowers. Also, a wildfire swept through this area a few years ago, and different things have bloomed each year since then as the area has recovered.

The Barnaby Thistle honey has lots of pollen floating at the top, and I swear it has a slight greenish cast. As usual, Ron cautions that it’s mostly from Barnaby Thistle nectar, because it was in bloom, but that the bees were free to add in nectar from whatever else was around. Like other Cougar Canyon honeys, this one came straight out of a single hive (it’s not a mix of honeys from different hives) and was never subjected to heat warmer than the natural temperature of the hive.


In one word, this is “candy”. It’s very thick and viscous in a way that makes it a joy to eat, since you have to press on it with your tongue to melt it. That viscosity makes its sweetness come on soft and round, but it is very sweet. Its flavor however is subtle and hints at caramel, toffee, butter and apple. If you wanted to pair this with food, it would have to be something that wouldn’t overwhelm it, such as herbal tea or ice cream. I just eat it straight, a little at a time. I’m glad I have a big jar.

Where To Buy

The Hulls sell their honey through Okanogan / Methow Valley area stores and in farmers markets. One good bet is the natrual foods store in the town of Twisp. Keep in mind that next year’s honey will be different. If you find any kind of Cougar Canyon Apiaries honey, just buy it.

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