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Canola and bees

RecipeSwap: Muesli Muffins with Almonds and Cranberries, Avocado Honey Veggie Wraps, and a Powerhouse Green Smoothie

bee on a canola flower

The minister in church last Sunday whimsically described the sight of bees flitting through his apple trees as “what heaven must be like” during his sermon.

When canola begins to flower across Western Canada, those vast fields of yellow flowers must look like heaven to a bee too.

Canola growers and the Canadian Honey Council are reminding us this spring of how they’re working together to protect their mutually beneficial relationship, and ensure that canola is good for bees and bees for canola.

They’ve dubbed it a ‘sweet relationship’ in a series of online videos posted this month by the Canola Council of Canada that describe how the two industries’ needs and interests are meshed.

The billions upon billions of flowers that emerge in canola growers’ fields produce high amounts of nectar which has a good sugar profile for honey production, with bees able to feast without having to fly far distances, and just one field providing bees a readily available nectar source for up to a month. Bees, in turn, are canola growers’ field hands, serving as pollinators for production of quality hybrid seed. Research is showing bee pollination can encourage higher yields, promote more uniform flowering and earlier pod setting.

Not surprisingly, given the vastness of the source, most honey from Canada is now made from nectar from canola fields.

“Canola has a 30-day bloom period, usually, and I would say it’s the bulk of what Alberta beekeepers are relying on for their main honey production,” says Kevin Nixon, a beekeeper from Innisfail, Alberta who speaks in one of the videos as a farmer familiar with canola and honey production. They share all sorts of interesting anecdotes, like how bees will visit about two million canola flowers to produce a pound of honey.

“Bees will fly around 50,000 miles to make one pound of honey,” says Dave Brisson, a beekeeper from Nipiwin, Saskatchewan.

An industry partnership that sustains bee populations is critically important for many other farmers and food crops too. Honeybees don’t just make honey. They pollinate about a third of all Canadian food crops, and are fundamental for producing many many different types of fruits, nuts and vegetables.

You can learn more about this relationship between honey and canola by logging on to the websites of the Canola Council of Canada and the Canadian Honey Council.

Muesli Muffins with Almonds and Cranberries

Whole grains, cranberries and almonds jack up the nutrient power in these muffins compared to common, cake-like ones. To round out breakfast, pair a muffin with some nuts and a piece of fruit for additional protein, energy and nutrients. Canola oil provides a moist, tender texture, plus adds vitamins E and K.

  • Canola cooking spray
  • 1 c. white OR whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. ground flaxseed
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. sliced almonds
  • 1-1/2 c. quick-cooking OR old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 c. non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 (4-oz./114-ml) jar pear purée baby food
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray 12-cup, non-stick muffin pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In small bowl, combine almonds, 1/4 cup oats and 1/4 cup cranberries and set aside. Stir remaining oats and cranberries into flour mixture until well blended. In medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, canola oil, pear purée, egg and almond extract. Stir yogurt mixture into flour mixture until just blended. Do not overmix. Spoon equal amounts of batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with reserved almond mixture. Bake 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan five minutes. Remove from pan; serve warm or let cool to room temperature.

Yield: 12 muffins. Serving Size: 1 muffin.

Source: CanolaInfo – Recipes & Cooking

Avocado Honey Veggie Wraps

Here’s a sweet, light and tasty meal for a hot summer day that includes delicious honey plus loads of healthy veggies. You’ll find many more recipes for using Canadian honey on the website of Bee Maid Honey at

  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 of 1 avocado, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 sweet red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 of 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 of 1 red onion, sliced
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Salt

In a blender, combine honey, avocado, lemon juice, garlic and mayonnaise. Blend until smooth. Lay the tortillas flat and spread the avocado honey dressing evenly on each one. Layer the veggies evenly in the centre of each. Sprinkle each with a pinch of salt, roll the tortillas and serve.

Source: Bee Maid Honey

Powerhouse Green Smoothie

Start your day strong with an all-in-one meal. Smoothies fit the bill pre- or post-workout because they are quick and easy to make, combine food groups and, as liquids, digest more quickly than solids. Canola oil added to your smoothie contributes omega-3 fat and creates a smooth, creamy consistency.

  • 3/4 c. seedless green grapes
  • 1/2 c. ripe banana slices
  • 1/4 c. chopped kale
  • 2/3 c. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. ice cubes

In blender, combine all ingredients. Blend for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until desired smoothness is achieved.

Yield: 1 serving. Serving Size: 1-2/3 cups.

Source: CanolaInfo – Recipes & Cooking

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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