Aja Horsley is obsessed with honey. And if you try her product, you probably will be too. That’s because Drizzle honey is raw, local honey harvested and sold by season. To find out exactly what that means, I visited Drizzle’s current home at District Ventures in Kensington.
Aja’s just about to have breakfast when I arrive; a bowl of yogurt sprinkled with granola and topped with an oozing chunk of golden honeycomb is sitting at the end of a long table. She nibbles on it slowly while explaining how she fell in love with honey.
With a degree in environmental science and a huge backyard garden, the Calgary native was already very interested in urban farming. But it wasn’t until she led the urban beekeeping research project at SAIT Polytechnic that she saw the beauty of honeybees.
“I had an ‘aha’ moment on the rooftop one day when I noticed that the honey we harvested in the summer tasted so different than the honey we harvested in spring,” she says. “I thought, why is nobody doing this yet? How come nobody is capturing the natural beauty of honey?"
That’s not happening much, Aja tells me, because most honey is pasteurized to create a consistent colour and texture so that it can be blended with other honeys, both domestic and imported. As she researched the industry, she saw a real gap in the market and the hindrance that low-cost imported honey had on Canadian beekeepers. So, she created Drizzle.
Partnering with sustainable beekeepers, Drizzle makes both spring harvest and summer harvest honey. The spring honey is rich with a dark colour from the first flowers of the season while the summer honey is lighter in colour with a more floral flavour. Both Drizzle honeys are raw, says Aja, so they don’t lose minerals, enzymes and pollen in the pasteurization process. Instead, Drizzle honey is creamed (mixed thoroughly) to break up the crystal structures for a smooth textured honey.
“I wanted to highlight the beauty in raw, natural honey,” says Aja.
Currently Drizzle is exclusively partnered with a farm in northern Alberta, but Aja aspires to support all the beekeepers she considers sustainable; those who have a wide variety of floral sources available, remote land away from pesticides and use a gentle harvesting method.
“We have healthy bees and you can taste it in the product,” she says.