The owners of Marg's Honey are Robert and Margaret Smith.
Robert began beekeeping in 1977, when he bought 4 hives from a lady who worked with him in the Department of Agriculture office in Ashern, Manitoba. Marg used to help him with the work from time to time, but only became more involved closer to when they moved into Winnipeg in 1988.
The business we now know as Marg's Honey came to be when The Smiths moved to Winnipeg in 1988. Marg had taken a leave of absence from teaching to go to University of Manitoba to complete her B.Ed. She didn't have an income while she was attending University, and so they decided to give her a source of income by putting the business in her name. And so, "Marg's Honey" was born. It was registered as a business in 2006, but Rob had been beekeeping a long time before that!
Beekeeping has changed a lot since 1977. Back then, they used to buy packages of bees in the spring from the U.S.A. They shook them into their hives, allowed them to do their work all summer, took the honey boxes off the hives, then killed the bees off in the fall. They would extract the honey, store their boxes for the winter and start all over again the next year.
There were not nearly the number of diseases and pests and viruses to deal with that we have now. When the border closed around 1987, they were no longer able to bring packaged bees into Canada. Over the years, they began to experiment with overwintering the bees, by feeding them sugar syrup in the fall and wrapping them up for the winter. Some years were more successful than others, but gradually they built up the numbers of hives. When they moved into Winnipeg, they had around 50 hives.
When Robert and Margaret got closer to retirement, they wanted to find something that they could do together. And since they both enjoyed beekeeping, that's what they decided to do. So far, they have increased the number of hives they manage every year and are aiming for 500 hives in 2010.
They are also a part of a research project for the University of Manitoba, along with 24 other beekeepers, and they are exploring the extent of viruses in Manitoba, which could prove interesting. Their Bee Shed is gradually coming into shape. They hope to be CFIA approved for Packer-Grader status by the end of 2010.
When not tending to the bees, Robert attends Bee Conferences and helps his growing family with various renovation projects. He sings in a Barbershop Quartet called Harlequin. He's done that for over 20 years and has won numerous awards and accolades in his singing career.
Margaret recently retired from Heading the National Board for the Canadian Association for Young Children. After 12 years, it's a bit of a change for her, but she is enjoying the additional time and has become involved more with the Province of Manitoba as a hive inspector and the local Honey Coop.
Robert and Margaret are deeply involved in their family, community and church and take part in movie groups and church choir, among other things. They've gone on trips and connected with Beekeepers in the Netherlands and Cuba recently and, when vacationing in Cuba, they make sure to take trips around the island to give away bicycles and clothing.