No two batches of honey are ever truly alike.
Honey, being the by-product of dried-down plant and flower nectar (along with some enzymes from a bee's body), will differ quite significantly depending on the nectar bees have extracted.
"I usually start taking off honey in the middle of June, because at that time my bees have been into the dandelion and I have customers that want that flavour of honey," said Jim Campbell, who has been working with bees near Stonewall for the past 38 years.
"Now that is unusual for some of the larger operators," continued Campbell, "but as a small beekeeper I can do that, I can extract a little bit of honey from each different flavour and keep that separate. But it is a lot of work."
Jim Campbell's bees near Stonewall (Mike Green)
You can think of it almost like wine production, with flower nectar being like grape varieties.
Large honey productions tend to be blends, with the various nectars being amalgamated together by the time the honey gets collected in autumn.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with this, but if you are looking to have a specific flavour-focused honey, then you often have to look at the little guys who have time to extract the distinct flavours from certain flowers and crops.
Another such fellow is Shawn Sexsmith, who just last year started producing a very unique honey in remote forests north of his home near The Pas.
His product is called Fireweed Honey, and is made from its namesake's nectar.
"Fireweed is a pioneer species, meaning it is one of the first plants to become established after a major disturbance, like logging or a forest fire," said Sexsmith.
"It also has a very large pink flower that just so happens, produces a lot of nectar."
Sexsmith had spotted the unique pink flowers of the weed last year when flying over the charred remains of a 2010 forest fire.
Having already been working with bees for the past eight years, Shawn took a gamble and decided to bring his bees into the Fireweed stand.
He'd read that Fireweed has been referred to as the "champagne of honeys," and one taste of the clear, aromatic product his bees produced confirmed it.
This year Sexsmith will expanding his Fireweed operation, as last year's batch was completely bought up locally. He expects the first batches to be ready by August.
If you are in Winnipeg next weekend be sure to check out Day of the Honey Bee, May 25th at The Forks. Local producers like Jim Campbell will be on hand to teach you all you need to know about unique artisanal honeys.