Miel MTL is aiming to make the world a little bit sweeter.
“Our goal is to be able to help bring back the bees and create an incredible raw and healing honey along the way,” says Nicholas Melka, owner and founder of Miel MTL, a raw honey non-profit founded in Montreal five years ago.
Melka buzzes with excitement when he gets the chance to talk about bees and his non-profit company’s honey. He started Miel MTL with just seven bee hives and now has over 50 different locations throughout Montreal and Quebec, from NDG and the South Shore to Montreal North and the Eastern Townships. Each 320g jar of Miel MTL’s honey contains the pollen of over 1.5 million flowers.
“The best thing about the bees is the incredible connection you get with nature, with the environment and with the community and that’s something that goes towards a greater level, towards having a cleaner and healthier planet," he says.
He says Miel MTL’s raw honey is not only delicious and environmentally conscious, but also has numerous health advantages. The company uses a cold-extraction method that ensures the honey doesn’t lose any of its health benefits. When honey is heated, most often for esthetic or packaging purposes, the food loses many of its beneficial properties.
“The raw element means that it’s never been processed and so the honey retains higher elements of nutritional beneficial factors as well as local pollens so it helps the body in terms of the immune system, the cardiovascular system and the digestive system,” he says.
“The honey is assimilated into the body more like a medicine,” Melka says.
Miel MTL lets the bees feed on their own honey instead of feeding them sugar like many other honey-makers do. This ensures the company has the purest form of honey that it can make, free of any contaminants or additives that could dilute the product.
He adds that people who eat local honey can also reduce their allergies by creating enzymes in the body from the region’s flower pollen, building up the immune system’s ability to handle any irritants. Honeybees generally fly within 2km of their beehives and gather nectar from the local flowers. This makes each honey unique to the area in which the beehives are located.
Melka explains that Miel MTL’s honey can taste different depending not only on the region that the colonies are located, but also the season in which the honey is collected. He says Miel MTL’s spring honey is yellow and has caramel or floral flavours that come from the burgeoning fruit blossoms. Spring honey can even taste minty and have a touch of herbal flavour. The fall season brings out a fruity, orange honey reflected by the flowers people have planted in their neighbourhood that year.
Bees around the Atwater Market have made a honey that tastes like watermelon candy this year.
Melka says he was inspired to start his company and work with bees when he contracted Lyme disease while travelling when he was in university.
“I got very sick with different parasitic illnesses and I ended up finding raw honey as a way to get better and get healed.”
He says the healing properties are only one of the many benefits honey and bee-keeping can bring to communities. Miel MTL has bee colonies in the gardens and on the rooftops of many different schools, restaurants, hospitals, coffee shops and family homes around the province and Melka says that not only do the bees help pollinate local flowers but they also help educate people about the eco-system.
“We love working to integrate the honey bees in an area that is both comfortable for the communities and the bees,” he says.
A sweet idea indeed.