Bee Keeping

My first memory of bee keeping is hazy. My father kept bees in 1948 – also the year that we left our farm in PEI. I’m sure that I would have been underfoot during the extraction.

Dad didn’t have bees in Ontario, as there was a mountain of work needed to get a run-down farm back into production. Had he lived longer, he might have again started beekeeping. I’d like to think so.

Maybe the memory of the early honey-processing got me into bee keeping in 1975. I remember putting hive boxes together on a late Sunday winter morning with 3-year old Leah playing nearby and Leonard Cohen on the record player.

The next dozen-or-so years were very busy with farm-work and money-earning jobs off the farm. The bee operation struggled along until, through bad-luck and poor-management, the last few hives of bees died over winter.

Some years later, I enrolled in a bee keeping course. I made it to the first Saturday class. I was about to order a few nucs (nucleus colonies) when I got a job offer that I couldn’t refuse – over twice the hourly wage that I’d been earning. Unfortunately the work was on weekends so I gave up my beekeeping dream.

The bee equipment was sold to a neighbour with the understanding that if I, or one of my children, wanted to get bees that the neighbour would be helpful.

A few years ago, our son Kyle expressed interest, visited some colonies with the neighbour, and decided to pursue it with his encouragement.

Kyle feels that pollinators are generally in trouble worldwide. By working with bees and learning about their social organization, he’s found them to be complex and most interesting. The fact that they produce a healthy, quality food with indefinite shelf life that we can sell through our store is a bonus. He has shown his nephew a bit, and the interest might continue to the 4th generation. A healthy bee population enhances the well-being of our land.

This winter I asked Kyle if Topsy could buy his bee business and I would work with him to expand the operation. He agreed.

Once again I’m bee keeping – it’s such a pleasure to work with my children.

There is so much to learn. Our neighbour gives us advice and we’re watching bee keeping videos on YouTube. We have decided to add more hives to those who survived the very long cold spring.

We are determined to keep our bees on land that Topsy owns or rents to eliminate pesticides from the in-coming nectar.

Sally and Kyle have already started to plant honey-producing flowers and trees around Kyle’s home to increase nectar sources.

Bees are fascinating and necessary for pollination. We are proud of our natural, heathy, raw honey.