Black Jar Honey Contest


Finals Results 

6th Annual International Black Jar Honey Contest


GRANDPRIZE: Rachel Coventry,    Champaign, IL, U.S.A.


Rachel comments:

"The primary early nectar source entering our honey is apple. The 2016 crop year provided a heavy apple bloom and optimal weather for foraging. Eight other small fruit crops on our farm influence the honey by providing unique fruity tones. Wildflowers, red and white clover and dandelion’s in our region round out the complex blend of flora available to our bees. Each year our honey carries a light golden color and a rich mellow flavor as its trademark. For the last two years, I have attempted to analyze the flower sources most visited by our bees. I did this by combining bee spotting with microscopic analysis of the pollen carried to the hive, and verifying my observations through the use of a pollen catalogue. All of us at Curtis Orchard are incredibly honored that our honey was the winning selection in this prestigious world competition. "



PEOPLES' CHOICE AWARD  Francesco Colafemmina  Puglia, Italy


"La Pecheronza is a creation of Francesco Colafemmina, classicist and beekeeper, that operates between Puglia and Basilicata region in Southern Italy. Our coriander honey is produced in the National Park of "Alta Murgia", a land of shepherds and wheat farmers, famous for its karst rocks rich in mineral salts. Coriander is typically cultivated in soil used for wheat and forage for cows in the area between Altamura and Spinazzola. Our coriander 2016 has a percentage of withe clover too, the typical coconut flavor of coriander, and a creamy soft crystallization. The goal of our beekeeping company is to educate consumers to the rediscovery of the strong relationship between our Puglia land, our traditional flavors, and the ability of bees to collect into a jar the characteristic of a specific terroir."





Central Region: Stephanie Brewer,  Perryville, MO

Northwest Region: Buddy Depew, Port Angeles WA

Northeast Region: Frank Woods, Warwick, RI

Southwest Region: Eugene Zuspan, Dos Palos CA

Southeast Region: Leigh Knot, Burnsville, NC

"Sourwood"  Sharry Mikell, Old Fort, NC

Clubs" Champion   Buncombe County Beekeepers,  Colleen Thomas  Leicester, NC

International Multi-Floral: Yael Farbstein,   Israel

U.S. Mono-Floral   Jay Parsons  Cornelia, GA

International Mono-Floral Francesco Colafemmina  Puglia, Italy



6th Annual International Black Jar Honey Contest Finals

“World’s Best Tasting Honey”


Asheville, NC, U.S.A.



Category I

International Mono-Floral Sourced Honeys


These are honeys produced from a single source, i.e. nectar from the flowers of a single type of plant. These require extra diligence from the beekeeper to keep the honey separate from other sources and represent a rarer and therefore more valuable product.

Entries in this category are from outside the continental U.S.


5545  “Coriander”   Francesco Colafemmina , Puglia Region,  Italy


6406  “Asphodelus”  Francesco Colafemmina,  Puglia Region,  Italy


5823  “Fir”  Honey-Dew    Brune Kozinc,  Lesce,  Slovenia



Category II

International Multi-Floral Sourced Honeys


Honey extracted from comb that contains nectar from many plants is considered ‘Wildflower’ - a term that indicates the flavor cannot not be ascribed to a single plant.

Wildflower honeys may be collected from colonies foraging on many diverse sources at one time, or may represent a longer period of time depending on when the beekeeper chose to harvest. Entries in this category are from outside the continental U.S.


1492  “Wildflower”   Yael Farbstein,   Israel


4295   “Organic Wildflower”  Edina Bodrovniczka,   Rhodes,   Greece


7688  “MultiFloral de Jalcon” Manuel Valido Martel,  Gran Canaria, Canary Islands



Category III

Southwest Region U.S.


Unless specifically designated as from a particular source, such as “Sage”, these honeys consist of nectar from various flowering plants in the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, and Nevada.


6987  Dark “Wildflower”  Eugene Zuspan,  Dos Palos, California


5978  Light “Wildflower” Eugene Zuspan,  Dos Palos, California


2026   2015 “Wildflower”   Paul Del Piero,  Monterey,  California 



Category IV

U.S. Mono-Floral Sourced Honeys


Within the expanse of the continental United States grow many plants whose nectar is either so abundant or especially prized that they are named on the label. Examples of this are “Fireweed”, “Snowberry”, “Clover” “Tupelo” “Orange Blosom” and “Locust”. Honeys from throughout the U.S. which bear such designation were grouped in this category.


1746   “Sage”     Paul Del Piero,  Monterey,   California


4289  “Tulip Poplar”  Jay Parsons,  Cornelia,  Georgia


2154  “Sumac”     Jay Parsons,    Cornelia,    Georgia




Category V



Sourwood is the prized and well-known honey of the southern Appalachian mountains. It blooms in mid-summer at a time when very few other nectar sources are available. It is light with a very distinctive taste. Being local and so influential upon the sub-conscious palettes of our judges, it is given it’s own category. This is also our most competitive category - due to the shear volume of entries.


8487  “Sourwood”    Sharry Mikell,    Old Fort,    North Carolina


3356  “Sourwood”  #3  Gary Ellenburg, Liberty, South Carolina


9093  “Sourwood” #2    Slade Jarrett,    Baldwin,     Georgia




Category VI

Northeast Region U.S.


These honeys represent blends of nectar produced from plants flowering in the states along our northern Atlantic seaboard: Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. 


2347  “Summer Wildflower”  Jeffrey Thomas,   Delanco,  New Jersey


6742  Dark “Wildflower”  David Smith III,  Emporium,   Pennsylvania


1094    “Wildflower”      Frank Woods,      Warwick,        Rhode Island



Category VII

Clubs’ Champion


There are Beekeepers Associations, or Clubs, in almost every county of the U.S. and around the World. We established this category to encourage them to hold their own local “Black Jar” blind tasting contest among their members. Entries in this category are sponsored by their Clubs in what is becoming one of our most competitive slots.


6706  Dan McKinney, Toe Cane Beekeepers, Little Switzerland, NC


6297    Colleen Thompson,   Buncombe Beekeepers,   Leicester,  NC


5795  James Poe,   Hendersonville Chapter,   Hendersonville,  NC



Category VIII

Northwest Region


These honeys are from the continental U.S. - and we took the liberty of including British Columbia in Canada. States comprising this region include Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana.


4532  “Blackberry”  Darcy DePew,  Port Angeles, Washington


6389  “Wildflower”  Buddy DePew,  Port Angeles, Washington


5248  “Wildflower”  Claudia Pavon,  British Columbia, Canada




Category IX

Central Region


Our biggest geographical area includes nectar from the mid-south to the Dakotas:

Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Illinois. This area shares many similar species of flora in a landscape largely drained by the Mississippi River.


8196    “Wildflower”    Rachel Coventry,   Champaign,   Illinois


3927     “Wildflower”     Dale Kuehn,       Posen,      Michigan


9968  “Wildflower”  Stephanie Brewer,   Perryville,  Missouri




Category X

Southeast Region


The Center for Honeybee Research is based in Asheville, NC where there are more than 800 beekeepers within 30 miles of the city. North Carolina has more individual beekeepers than any other state. Given that Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida and the Gulf States of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are within this group - it makes for a very competitive category.


7468  “Wild Flower”   Marc Eden,   Swannanoa,  North Carolina


9543    “Wild Flower”  Leigh Knott,   Burnsville,   North Carolina


8524  “Wildflower”  David Stallings,  Hendersonville, North Carolina







The “World’s Best Tasting Honey” was selected by a panel of carefully selected judges (listed below) who generously volunteered their time and focus during a luncheon held on Feb. 7, 2017. The slate had been narrowed to (30) Finalists via multiple elimination rounds, all of which consisted of “blind” tastings by panels of at least five judges, whose scores were averaged - highest advancing to the next round. When a Grand Champion is selected, the next highest scoring entry becomes the Winner of that Category.


6th Annual Grand Prize   Rachel Coventry,  Champaign,  Illinois







The Annual International Black Jar Contest aims to bring attention to the serious challenges facing honey bees and beekeepers in an increasingly globalized environment. It also seeks to educate the Public about the diversity and quality of this under-appreciated food. In the gathering of it bees do an invaluable service in pollinating our crops and flora. Our most recent Event allowed attendees to sample all thirty Finalists in the wonderful atmosphere of the 12th floor banquet room of the Renaissance Hotel. (The Center maintains the two beloved hives on their roof:) Nearly 150 cast ballots in a less formal atmosphere of wine, music, and appetizers and their scores averaged to compare with the results of our Official Judging. We will continue to expand and refine the Black Jar Contest in the years ahead.



Peoples’ Choice  “Coriander”  Francesco Colafemmina,  Puglia Region,  Italy




Official Judges of the 6th Annual International Black Jar Honey Contest:


Katie Button

  Executive Chef and co-owner of Cu’rate and Nightbell, award-winning chef, cookbook author, and champion of sustainable food.



Jonathan Ammons

 Professional hedonist, writer for MountainXpress, WNC Magazine, Edible Asheville, Paste, Citizen-Times. Singer/songwriter/musician


Nancy Williams

Weekly columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times providing quirky, yet thought-provoking opinions, often unconventional on conventional topics. Has worked as a student administrator for over 30 years winning numerous awards for her contributions to field of student affairs. 


Barry Pate Jr.

Well known tenor and community supporter Barry is also a surgeon and owner of WNC ENT at 285 McDowell Ave.


Rich Petrelli

Executive Chef for the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, a lifelong hospitality industry professional; passionate about good food, good beer and good honey.



Emily Jackson

Founder and Director of the ASAP Growing Minds program ( and Passionate about growing the farm to school/preschool movement. Has raised bees and loves honey. Once walked into an elementary school with15,000 bees.





Phylis Stiles

 Founder & Director of Bee City USA® and Bee Campus USA, named 2015 US Pollinator Advocate of the Year by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.  Website:



Butch Thompson

After 20 years working as the Assistant Director for groups supporting those with HIV/AIDS, Butch currently sings with and is the Vice President of Cantaria-The Gay Men's Chorus of Asheville and President of butchOUT."


Stu Helms

 the AshVegas Food Fan, artist, graphic designer, and writer.



Cathy Cleary 

Co-founder of West End Bakery in Asheville; her volunteer time is devoted to working with FEAST (Fresh, Easy, Affordable Sustainable Tasty ) 



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