Although I’ve had my fair share of wine, beer, and cider tastings, a guided honey tasting is something that I hadn’t heard of before. So you can imagine how intrigued I was when I came across the “Talk, Tour and Honey Tastings” workshop at Red Bee Apiary just in time for Valentine’s Day. Red Bee Apiary is an apiary in Weston, Connecticut. This is where beekeeper and author Carla Marina Marchese and her Red Bee team look after thousands of honeybees. Early on a Sunday afternoon, a handful of other attendees (mostly couples for Valentine’s Day) and I gathered at the Honey House Barn where Marina welcomed us and introduced herself.

 

Red Bee Apiary Honey House Barn

The main floor of the Honey House Barn had a large wooden dining table, sofas and a grandiose chandelier. Candles, green plants, and paintings decorated the room. There were many items on sale including Marina’s books, soaps, honeycombs, beeswax lip balm, pure honey, homemade skin care products and much more. All of these products are handmade on the premises.

Since it was raining, we couldn’t visit the bees in the apiary garden but Marina did an incredible job walking us through her 18-year journey as a honey connoisseur.

Marina became a beekeeper after her neighbor invited her to taste fresh honey from the beehive. What started out as an accidental hobby has led her to become a full-time beekeeper. She has since written two books and trained in Italy where she became passionate about identifying honey profiles.

 

Talking Honeybees & Honey

Throughout the talking segment, we learned how honeybees are docile insects that pollinate a lot of foods like blueberries, strawberries, avocados, almonds, chocolate chips, and oranges. We also learned how honeybees make honey and how the nectar source ultimately determines the color, smell, and taste of the honey produced.

Similar to how different regions affect the taste of wine, the same applies to honey.

Different types of honey will have different flavors depending on its origin. This is one of my biggest takeaways from the workshop!

In Connecticut, honeybees feed on wildflower, blueberries and orange blossom.

Honeybees have an incredible sense of smell and travel up to four miles.

 

Honeybee Colony Members

We also learned about the roles and responsibilities of different types of bees in the hive. Each beehive has a queen who is the only fertile bee. As queen bee, she stays in the hive and lays eggs. Drone bees are male bees that mate with the queen. Once they mate, they die shortly after. There are also infertile female worker bees in the hive who clean, feed the young, remove waste and make wax.

Throughout this segment, I appreciated the smooth jazz playing in the background.

Fun Fact: Honey provides lots of health benefits like building up your immune system and helping alleviate allergies.

 

Honey Tasting & Culinary Pairing

For the honey tasting, we were invited to dine upstairs.

The barn’s second floor had high ceilings which created a bright an airy space. The large window in the back let in a lot of natural light and looked out to the garden.

Our tables were neatly set with plates that had a variety of cheeses, fruits and vegetables. We were also offered water, a small serving of mead from Nordic Mood Meadery and four types of American honey.

Starting from left to right, we tasted the honey with the lightest color first.

Before drizzling the honey on our goat cheese, Marina invited us to note its aroma as she discussed how it was harvested and extracted from the hive. After a delicious bite, we talked about the differences in the pronounced and subtle honey flavors.

The Fall season Goldenrod honey had a rich amber color almost as dark as maple syrup. It smelled funky but paired well with the crunchy green snaps, Tahiti sauce, and black sesame seeds. Honey is sweet but can also be savory.

As a bonus, we were gifted chocolate beeswax lip balm for Valentine’s Day which I use often. Brown in color, I love how silky and hydrated the Red Bee Apiary lip balm makes my lips feel. It also lasts a considerable amount of time which is equally important.

 

Final Thoughts

The 90-minute “Talk, Tour and Honey Tastings” workshop at Red Bee Apiary was a great introduction to honeybees and local Connecticut beekeeping.

Marina answered all of our questions and enthusiastically shared her culinary passions with us. On the tour I learned so many interesting things about honeybees like how they aren’t native to the United States. Most honeybees are actually from Italy!

Before this honey tasting at Red Bee, I never thought about honey flavors but now I’ve learned a new skill that transcends honey! Red Bee Apiary has changed my perspective on nature, gardening, and food. I’ll never look at or taste honey the same way again!

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Join a honey, talk and honey tasting at Red Bee Apiary in Weston Connecticut to learn about honeybees and discover honey flavors and profiles. Similar to how different regions affect the taste of wine, the same applies to honey.

Different types of honey will have different flavors depending on its origin. This is one of my biggest takeaways from the workshop!

10 Comments

  1. Traveltomtom

    March 15, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Different tastes in honey? I learned something new today! I think this is a really fun experience and would love to do this myself one day. Never heard of a honey tasting before but will totally put this on my list! Thanks for the inspiration…

    Reply

    • Danielle Desir

      March 15, 2018 at 8:02 pm

      I hadn’t heard of it either and I’m so glad I attended, it’s such a special experience.

      Reply

  2. Cori Carl

    March 14, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    This looks like a really fun evening. It’s been so long since I’ve had honey off of the comb! I think I’m going to have to stop by the farmers market this weekend to get some local honey to put on my toast and see if there’s anything like this class near me! I’ll take honey over nutella any day.

    Reply

    • Danielle Desir

      March 15, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Another reader mentioned bread, butter and honey something I’ve never tried before. I’m totally missing out! Thank you for leaving a comment Cori!

      Reply

  3. Chantell Collins

    March 14, 2018 at 11:58 am

    What a fun and interesting excursion! Bees are actually one of my favorite animals. I find them so fascinating so this would probably be super interesting to me. I also didn’t know that honey bees are from Italy. The best part for me would be the food pairings. I appreciate an expert showing me great combinations.

    Reply

    • Danielle Desir

      March 15, 2018 at 9:51 am

      Yes, Chantell! I learned so much during this talk and tasting and I have a greater appreciation for honeybees now!

      Reply

  4. AuthenticTravels

    March 14, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I love honey and I always like to eat eat with bread and butter. The soaps look great and I think they have a terrific smell. I don’t knwo how it’s called in English, but in Romania we also eat the honey comb (hope is the right word) that the bees create. It has a fabulous taste especially when 100% natural/bio.

    Reply

    • Danielle Desir

      March 15, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Yes in English it’s called honeycomb and I tried it for the first time at the tasting – very yummy and crunchy. I’ll have to try eating honey with bread and butter, I’ve never heard of that!

      Reply

  5. LaiAriel Samangka

    March 13, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Wow, I’m truly happy for you that you finally tasted the sweet honey. I always have honey in my kitchen, which I always use it for my tea or coffee sometimes. I truly love that you elucidated it well on how the honey was formed and how the bees produce honey. Anyway, it was seemed that you really enjoyed the talk and the place is great as well. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Reply

    • Danielle Desir

      March 15, 2018 at 9:54 am

      I’ll have to try coffee with honey! So many interesting ways to pair honey with food and drinks!

      Reply

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