With the arrival of July, many local beekeepers will be harvesting this year’s spring honeys, if they haven’t already. When it comes to Washington honeys, the lighter-colored early season honeys can be every bit as interesting in their own way as the darker fall honeys. In fact I still count some local spring honeys among my all-time favorites. Following are some honeys you may see around town soon, if not already (I will update this page as I get new information). To know where to look, see my Where To Buy Raw Honey and Seattle Honeys pages.
- Maple honey: for me, maple tree blossom honey is one of the glories of spring, except it arrives in early summer. A number of producers will have it, then it will be gone. Great maple honeys I’ve had in past years came from the Prairie Mountain Honey Company and from Backyard Bees. I also heard from Anne at Sunny Honey that Seth Smith of The Valley’s Buzz has produced a fantastic maple honey this year (you have to go to Concrete to get it). I haven’t yet tasted any maple from 2015 yet to know if it will be strongly lemony/minty or more caramelly (with less strong lemon). It depends on the weather. I prefer it as lemony as possible – it’s like bottled sunlight.
- Sunny Honey: this year Sunny Honey already has a tasty honey from Moses Lake, plus soon there will be a lot of blueberry and raspberry honey from up near the Canadian border. Sunny Honey also has hives in Seattle but it’s not clear yet if that honey will be made available (that depends on how much can be harvested).
- Seattle Urban Honey: this eight-year-old apiary has in-city hives. The early-season honeys I had last year were gorgeous, especially the one collected in Greenwood.
- Rainy Day Bees: Fremont Early Honey, Shoreline Early Honey. These come from a small number of hives in the city, and will likely sell out in fifteen seconds. Last year’s early crop was beautiful.
- Shipwreck Honey: their spring 2105 Alki honey is intensely floral and so good (it’s labeled as “Wildflower”, so find a Shipwreck stand and ask for it).
- Urban Bee Company: I’m pretty sure that these folks are already extracting from at least some of their hives. I’ll update this when I hear more specifics, but in any case every honey I’ve had from them has been richly-flavored.
- Buckwheat Honey: Karen at Brookfield Farm informed me that even though it’s the darkest honey you can get, buckwheat honey is in fact harvested at the same time as you would usually consider the usual spring honeys, or even before. This honey splits opinion; it’s dark, thick, and stinky. A friend of mine called it “hoof paste”. Altogether it’s easy to understand why many see Buckwheat honey as all kinds of wrong, but in fact it can be addicting if you get used to it. You know, kind of like what happens with cheese. The Sunny Honey shop at Pike Place currently has a 2015 buckwheat that is on the less-offensive side, in case you want to dip your toes in.
- Blackberry and Raspberry honeys: lots of people go for these honeys, but for me they tend to be just sweet and one-note in terms of flavor, unless the bees went off-farm and picked up something else to make an interesting mix, as is the case with the amazing Craic honey I’ve written about earlier (the Craic in stores now is still the fall 2014 crop I think – don’t miss it). If you have never had raspberry or blackberry honey, then do try them if you see a raw local version. Raspberry honey can be very bright and I imagine it would be good on ribs.
- Clover honey: “clover” is a catchall word often used for awful processed supermarket honey, though obviously there is such a thing as clover (more than one variety) and real, raw clover honey, which can be wonderful when fresh off the hills. My advice is, if you are traveling around the state and find freshly-harvested, unheated clover at a farm-stand or farmer’s market, give it a try. I had truly lovely clover honey when I was in central Washington.