Canadians Win Prestigious North American Honey Awards
Canadian beekeepers have won several first place awards at both the North American Honey Show and the American Honey Show, two prestigious juried events showcasing the best honey products on the continent.
Amanda Goodman Lee and Jeff Lee, who own two honey brands, Honey Bee Zen and Swan Valley Honey, of Creston, B.C., won first place at the American Honey Show in New Orleans, Louisiana for their creamed honey, and for a difficult-to-harvest varietal honey, Fireweed.
The event was held at the American Beekeeping Federation’s annual convention.
Their creamed honey received a perfect score of 100 from the judges, who said it was the finest entry in that class they had ever judged.
This is a notoriously difficult and competitive class.
As a result, the Lees were also awarded Best In Show, a category judged against all other honey classes and entries. It is the first time in the history of the American Honey Show that Best In Show, as well as first places in the Creamed and Extra Water White classes, have been awarded to Canadians.
The winning entries were auctioned off for charity, and the eight jars of Honey Bee Zen Creamed each fetched a record price of $650 US.
The eight Honey Bee Zen Fireweed jars, which won in the Extra Water White colour class, each sold for $250 US. (The honeys sell retail in Canada for $15 each.)
The Lees also won first place at the North American Honey Show in Louisville, Kentucky for Creamed Honey Infusions with their Cranberry-Orange creation, and Top of Class for their Creamed Honey. The show was held at the North American Honey Bee Expo and was the largest of its kind in North America.
The NAHS uses the Welsh Honey Judging System, in which judges award according to individual scoring; consequently, they did not award a first place for the creamed class due to minor technical flaws.
However, the Lee’s entry was judged the best of the class and awarded a second-place ribbon.
Amanda also won a first-place ribbon for her “bees and seeds” sourdough entry in the category for bread loaves made with honey. She is newly experienced in making sourdough bread.
The Lees also placed third for the design of their Swan Valley Honey label, which was created by Farm Food Drink, a BC company.
“Honey shows are immensely competitive, and the rules are very strict. It took tremendous effort to get these entries ready and to bring them to the US without significant problems,” said Goodman Lee.
“For us to place, let alone win, was a dream come true. We are extremely humbled that our Canadian honeys are considered the best in North America.”
The Lees operate a medium-sized commercial beekeeping company in Creston and specialize in making pure, raw and unpasteurized honeys. Their two brands, Honey Bee Zen and Swan Valley Honey, are sold in more than 40 stores in British Columbia, including Nelson, Cranbrook, Trail, Rossland, Kelowna, Vancouver, and of course, Creston.
The parent company, Honey Bee Zen Apiaries Ltd. is a federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency-licensed processor with rights to export inter-provincially and internationally. It also is an active participant in two Canadian and US honey fraud protection programs.
The two shows took place in mid-January 2024.