Honey Tasting: Nooksack River Wildflower from Guilmette’s Busy Bees

A new honey brand has appeared at my local store: “Guilmette’s Busy Bees” from Bellingham, Washington. Their lightly golden and thoroughly crystallized raw “Nooksack River Wildflower” has quickly become one of my go-to honeys.

Nooksack River Wildflower honey from Guilmette's Busy Bees, Bellingham WA

This apiary doesn’t appear to have a standalone website but I was able to gather some information from the interwebs and from the Guilmette’s Busy Bees Facebook page. The label says Bellingham, but the apiary is actually northeast of there in Everson, WA. The Nooksack river cuts right through town. Besides producing honey for local consumption (the Nooksack and a lot of Raspberry honey), beekeeper Skip Guilmette provides pollination services both locally in in California.

About this honey, Skip says “we always have the wildflower on hand and it is pulled from different areas of the river at different times during the year. So one honey may be light and another may be dark and have a stronger flavor. The bigger contributors to the Nooksack River crop would be field clover, sweet clover, blackberry, and maybe some maple. There are numerous wildflowers in our area as well so it’s a pretty good mix.”

Tasting

Nooksack River Wildflower honey, close up.This honey doesn’t taste at all strange (quite the contrary) but has a flavor profile unlike any other honey I own. I’ve tried two versions of it: one a medium-gold color (pictured) and a darker version. The lighter version is rich like light brown sugar and jasmine, with a floral background and a touch of citrus fruitiness. The darker version is very similar in flavor but even more distinct, with an added dimension that one person I had try it described as “pepper” or “spiciness”. I wouldn’t pass up either version, but given the choice I would go for the darker one.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with mixing honey with good coffee and with black tea, and this honey is one of the few winners for that use. With most honeys there are two possible outcomes: one, the honey flavor disappears into the drink, making it a waste of good honey (I might as well be using sugar), or two, the honey overwhelms the drink flavors or otherwise throws the flavors out of whack. But this Nooksack River Wildflower enhances good coffee or tea; the flavors dovetail and seem richer altogether. Because it’s so solidly crystallized it’s also fun to eat straight and dissolve in my mouth. All this explains why, with so many honeys filling up my kitchen crevices, my first large jar of this honey is half gone already.

Where To Buy

  • You can call Guilmette’s Busy Bees directly at (360) 398-0873 to leave orders or a name and number for a return call. They will ship at a flat rate; about 9 pints fit into a large flat rate box and it’s around 12 dollars to send.
  • Guilmette’s has two roadside shacks where you can purchase honey directly: one in front of their operation on South Pass Road in Everson, and another on Noon Road just east of Bellingham.
  • Guilmette’s sells their honey to a distributor in Kent called Crown Pacific Fine Foods, who were nice enough to list where the honeys are sold in the Seattle area: Central Market (Shoreline, Poulsbo, Mill Creek), PCC (Kirkland, Issaquah, Greenlake, Seward Park, Edmonds, Fremont, View Ridge, Redmond, West Seattle), and Whole Foods (in Bellevue at least). I found mine at Central Market in Shoreline.
  • Outside of Seattle, several stores in the Whatcom and Skagit county areas sell Guilmette’s honeys: Bellingham Community Food Co Ops, Whatcom Farmers’ Co Ops, The Market stores in Bellingham, Anacortes, and Birch Bay, the Green Barn in Lynden, and several other locations.

6 thoughts on “Honey Tasting: Nooksack River Wildflower from Guilmette’s Busy Bees

  1. I would like to add that we have a shack on the Noon Rd just east of Bellingham where honey is available daily. We also have several stores in the Whatcom and Skagit county areas that sell our honeys. Bellingham Community Food Co Ops, Whatcom Farmers’ Co Ops, The Market stores in Bellingham, Anacortes, and Birch Bay, the Green Barn in Lynden, and several other locations. Thanks!

    • No, creamed honey is the same as crystallized honey, and as you probably know, there is nothing wrong with crystallized honey (most raw honeys will crystallize over time). In the case of creamed honey, there is a special process to control the crystallization so that the crystals are very small, resulting in a smooth mouthfeel. Wikipedia has a short article on it (and you can find descriptions of the process elsewhere):

      Creamed Honey

      In the case of the Guilmette’s Raw Creamed, I’m assuming they skip the pasteurization step as described in the article. Honeys can still be considered raw after being creamed, and quite a few raw honeys from other countries that I’ve collected appear to have been creamed without there being a mention of it on the label. Apiaries tend to worry that misinformed customers will not buy honey that is crystallizing. I myself enjoy crystallized honey, especially when the honey starts out rather thick and waxy – the crystallized version can be good and chewy (I just got an Alfalfa honey from Whidbey Island that’s like this).

      How is the Guilmette’s Raw Creamed? I haven’t tried it… yet.

  2. while this honey may be new to your store in seattle, i’ve enjoyed this wildflower honey for more than 30 years, since before denny smith retired and sold his apiary to guilmette’s. the thing that sets this honey apart from the many other honeys i’ve tried is the flavor…you can virtually taste the individual flowers. i’ve been sweetening my tea with honey for nearly 40 years and this honey turns simple english breakfast tea into a real treat. and there’s nothing better than toast slathered with chunky peanut butter and this honey.

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