After Maple Syrup, all-natural homegrown honey is most definitely the next sugary syrup of choice for Canadians across the country. But even if your honey is still coming from a local, grassroots beekeeper, more and more brand-savvy marketers are helping to make consuming (and purchasing) quality honey cool again. Bonus: they’re helping to educate their customers about the importance of helping the bees too. One of my personal favourites? Nude Bee Honey Co. from Toronto. As part of my series of features for San Pellegrino‘s Itineraries of Taste, here I chat with the trio behind the brand – Eddy Okun, Ryan Thomas and Rob DaCunha – to learn more about how they’re spreading their ooey gooey raw and natural goodness all around town, and beyond.
Gracie Carroll: How did the Nude Bee Honey Co. brand and product come to life?
Nude Bee Honey: The concept for nude bee was born when I (Eddy Okun) met a beekeeper through my cousin’s roommate shortly after I moved to Toronto. Up until that point my experience of honey was limited to the heavily processed and pasteurized stuff that comes in a bear or had that corny bee on the front.
I was floored by how much better the real/raw stuff was in comparison, and later discovered that depending on the floral source, you can get insane variability in colour, taste, texture, aroma and food pairings.
Nude Bee was born as an experiment with capturing people attention with beautiful product design, and encouraging consumers to learn more about the incredible stuff inside. We’re proud to say it’s worked.
GC: What is it about Nude Bee Honey Co. that makes it so special?
NBH: The honey that we sell is the same stuff you can get at farmers markets around the world, and we encourage our customers to go out and experience/explore. We think of ourselves as curators of honeys that we think are truly special. We hunt for the most caring bee keepers making the most incredible products with the goal of getting their rare honey’s into the hands of people who care about food and where it comes from. Done right it means we can give honey a beautiful experience that’s inspiring, educational and sweet.
GC: Where does your honey come from? Who are the beekeepers that you work with?
NBH: We’ve been at it for a while, so our beekeeper rolodex is pretty deep and the result of being involved in various apiarist organizations. Our honeys come mostly from across Ontario, but we imported our first Orange Blossom Honey from California that we’re still really excited about, we’re looking forward to bringing in more exotic honeys from other parts of the world.
The dream has always been to travel the world, find the rarest and most incredible products and bring them a global audience – we just got lucky that so much incredible honey comes from our own backyard.
GC: From Blueberry to Pumpkin, there’s a variety of unexpected flavours available from Nude Bee. How do you come up with or decide on the flavours that you develop?
NBH: This is the perfect example of the kinds of questions that we love! Depending on the floral source of the honey, you get a completely unique honey, so for example, our Pumpkin honey just means that the bees only had access to pumpkin flowers when they were pollinating, same for the Blueberry, Buckwheat, Orange, and so on. Every flower’s honey is unique!
GC: What is an unexpected way to consume honey that you think everyone should try?
NBH: Tea pairings are a fun one, but honey also works beautifully with cheese and brings out all kinds of unexpected flavours. My favourite, though, is dark molasses-y Buckwheat honey works beautifully as a pancake topper.
My business partner recently made wild flower simple syrup for cocktails; he even served them from a Sno-Cone machine for an adult birthday. The possibilities are really endless.
GC: Where can Nude Bee be purchased in Canada?
NBH: We can be found at many Loblaws and Sobeys locations, we’re also carried at Chapters Indigo if you’re shopping for a great gift. Plus, for greater convenience, you can shop our honeys online at www.nudebeehoney.ca.
GC: Why is it important to consume local honey on a regular basis?
NBH: Because it’s deliciously exhilarating of course!
GC: How is Nude Bee Honey Co. helping the bee population in Canada?
NBH: We get a lot of questions from our customers about what’s going on with the bees, we’re not experts ourselves, and we trust the beekeepers that we work with where it comes to what’s impacting bee populations.
We’re members of the Ontario Beekeepers Association (OBA) and champion their cause whenever we get the chance. You’ll never find a group as passionate or as connected to what’s going on in the fields than them.
GC: What can people do to help the bee population thrive in their own outdoor spaces however large or small?
- Start simple. Plant a wild flower garden in the green spaces you have. Planting an ideal mix of early spring flowers and peak summer blooms will insure that your local bees have food throughout the season.
- Keep bees. Beekeeping even if your honey yields are low is an amazing hobby. There is something soothing and a little magical about watching bees work and gardens bloom. You can start a DYI bee hotel for as little as $30 and start your own hive for as little as $500 dollars.
- Get political. There is no shortage of information about the pressures that bee’s face or about their importance in securing our food supply. Find out about the needs and pressures facing bee’s in your area and get involved at the local level.
For more information, please visit www.nudebeehoney.ca