The queen bee of Canadian honey, these guys also supply half the private-label honey sold by retailers. But like all pasteurized varieties, this stuff is heated to such a high temperature that some of the beneficial enzymes and phytonutrients are reduced, and the pasteurization process makes this product more energy-intensive. Some bottles are vaguely labelled "packed in Canada," triggering speculation since a 2011 investigation found that a third of U.S. honey was actually laundered Chinese honey and often contaminated with illegal levels of antibiotics and pesticides. Billy Bee, however, says its honey is entirely Canadian and Argentine. It's not organic, so fields where bees collect pollen are likely pesticide-laden.
Manuka's been the darling of the alt-health community as well as certain medical circles ever since New Zealand started talking up this product's antibacterial superpowers. To be honest, all honey is antibacterial, but the Kiwis have put a lot of cash into proving theirs is particularly healing on wounds, burns and more thanks to a protein exclusive to it. Thing is, most of the "manuka" on shelves is actually kanuka. Sellers of certified manuka have to prove that most of the pollen comes from manuka trees. But even then, manuka ain't local, honey. It travels 14,000 kilometres to get to you.
Looking for some unpasteurized sticky stuff that comes from a little closer to home? Canadian wildflower is always a decent pick. Dutchman's Gold offers a few varieties, including a wildflower honey, where bees mostly suckle on goldenrod and aster blossoms. That should mean the fields surrounding the hives are more diverse than those that bees feed on for, say, clover honey. Dutchman's isn't certified organic (which would ensure 3 kilometres around the hives are certified pesticide-free, depending on the country of origin), but the company does avoid antibiotics in its beekeeping.
BEE QUEEN ORGANIC, HOCKLEY ORGANIC
Unpasteurized Canadian delights. Hockley is certified organic, guaranteeing five kilometre radius of organic buzzing grounds for their busy bees. Bee Queen doesn't have official certification, but does use "organic beekeeping." Unlike conventional honey, no antibiotics are used in production, and colonies aren't killed off after honey harvesting, an incresingly uncommon practise even among conventional beekeepers. Bonus: both are produced in Ontario. FYI PC Organics Wildflower Honey is a good grocery chain pick.
FARMERS' MARKET HONEY
This ain't a brand, but a call to support your local apiarist, like my market man Brian Hamlin, who sells gobs of honey geo-labelled according to hive locations fanning out from the Toronto Islands and U of T to isles north of the city. But keep in mind that not all farmers' market honeys are created equal. I've seen some with artificial flavours and weird chems. Also be sure to chat up your bee whisperers to find out more about the fields hugging their hives.