Honey made the old fashioned way - Only sweet nectar and hard work! Unadulterated; no additives, it's 100% naturally Canadian.

BEEKEEPING TODAY

Extraction Machinery used by Apiarists today

The Beekeeping vocation has changed drastically since the Industrial Revolution due to the influx of machinery.

And as time has progressed, the machinery that has been developed has become more advanced and affordable.

Things like Honey Extractors, Wax Extractors, Bee Smokers, Presses, Filters, Storage Equipment ... it is certainly more advanced than what we believe it is. And these innovations have made Beekeeping affordable, profitable and easier to do.

And not only is the equipment more advanced, the methods we use to cultivate and harvest the honey are modern as well! So much so, in fact, that beekeeping can be taken up as a hobby by nearly anyone in the world today!

For individuals who decide to take their hobby and turn it into a passion, the beekeeping profession is divided into 4 separate seasons, each with their own tasks and requirements. This is what we do throughout the year ...

WINTER SEASON

Winter Hives

In the winter time, we check the state of the wintering room and sweep up the dead bees into old drums a few times over the winter. We also fill, freeze and give water to the bees in the winter in order to help them heat and cool the hive and use for food. We attend Bee Conferences and fix and prepare Bee Boxes and Honey Supers for use in the spring and summer.

Once we do all that and are positive that due diligence has been achieved, we take a vacation and get ourselves mentally and physically prepared for the coming season.

SPRING SEASON

Prepping Spring Hives

In the spring, the bees need to come out of the wintering room and be moved around the garden and into our wind break. We move them, position them, put pollen patties in and feed pails on, and finally we put hoods over them to keep out the wind.

Those hives wintered outdoors need to be unwrapped, fed and checked to make sure they are alive and working. As we have three sites, sometimes it takes longer than a day's work to get that all taken care of.

Over the next days and weeks, we have to watch the hives very carefully, checking to make sure they are continuing to be alive and working.

We have to check with land owners to ask about continuing to use the sites we have and what crops are being planted, so that we balance what nectar sources our bees will have to work with. We try to ensure that they have a couple of options over the course of the summer. Mostly canola, then clover, alfalfa and wild flowers.

We have to go to each site and set up fences to keep out the bears out, electric fencers to check, skunk traps to build and maintain, sites to mow. Just basic site maintenance.

SUMMER SEASON

Summer Extraction Process

Once the hives are "built up" and balanced, they can be moved out to the summer sites. This is done overnight so that the bees stay inside the hives better. Our days begin early and last until the next morning.

The fencers are put into place and turned on, the traps for skunks set and baited and feed pails on, if necessary. Once the hives are in place, they must be monitored. We use drone removal as one of the methods to control mites without using chemicals. These must be changed at regular intervals.

When the nectar flow begins, we must add honey supers to them. This means that the big truck needs to be loaded, strapped down and the boxes taken to the sites and put onto the hives. After two to three weeks, we can take those honey supers off, extract the honey from them, put them back onto the hives and let the bees continue to work at refilling them to do it all over again.

Of course, the time in between is not idle! There are new frames of foundation to build, along with new boxes, equipment to check and repair, monitoring to be done for mites and disease and record keeping.

There is also honey to filter, contaiers to fill, private customers to contact and sales to be made. And it's not just the bee sites that require maintenance. Our trucks and bee shed also require time to fix when they fail.

Near the end of the summer, when the flowers stop producing nectar, we take the last of the honey crop off the hives, take samples of the bees for mite levels and disease to be sent to the provincial lab and treat as necessary.

Once the results are back we feed the bees sugar syrup, and do the general fall preparation.

FALL SEASON

Fall Preparation

This necessitates moving most of the hives home and moving the pthers to our wintering sites and aligning them to be wrapped. Every hive is tagged and the necesary information about what apiary site they occupied, whether there was a new queen (and her source), what treatments were applied, etc. must be recorded, and tracked. The cold air intake, circulating fans and hot air and carbon dioxide exhaust fans inside the wirntering room must be all checked to make sure that they are working before the bees can be moved indoors.

By the end of October, or early November, depending on the weather, we have to wrap up the hives that will be wintered outdoors and move the others indoors. Again, this takes quite a while and needs to be done when the bees will stay inside the hives for the most part. This time, becasue it is cold, they stay put. Once the bees are indoors and we must make sure that the fans are working as they must, because we do not want to have the bees die due to carbon dioxide or by becoming too warm.

COUNTING THE HOURS

Time Counting

It is very difficult to count the hours that are spent tending to bees in a year, working on bee work. Perhaps one way of estimating the number of hours we work is to take a typical week of hours worked that was recorded last summer by one of our workers. He worked 89 hours, and Rob worked before he got out there and was still working when that person went in for the evening. Some days we work indoors, if the weather is not good, but mostly we are outdoors. Unwrapping the hives wintered outdoors takes about 10 hours, as we have three sites. Our months of really active bee work run from mid-March until early-November, mostly 6 days a week, and anywhere from 9-14 hour days. If we took the 33 weeks and averaged out 11.5 hours a day for 6 days a week, it would come out to be around 2177 hours of work!

Hope that this gives you a bit of an idea what's behind the teaspoons of honey you put on your taost or into your tea.