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Beekeepers’ Anniversary

Some people like to celebrate their wedding anniversary with flowers, or a special dinner…

We, on the other hand, after pulling out the ol’ marriage certificate to confirm that the special day was, in, fact beginning in 20 minutes (“if only we had written the date down somewhere…wait!”), decided to celebrate by spending all day condensing our mating nucs into 5-frame boxes.  Let the good times roll!

Here, Liam celebrates wedded bliss  by pretending to smile directly after a wasp stung him under the fingernail (quote: this is what bee stings must feel like to normal people!). I gave him the heartfelt anniversary honor of allowing him to dig into a hive that had not been checked (not ever!) since a swarm in the yard colonized a stack of leaky equipment. That’s what love’s all about, folks…special gestures like that!

The super-intense robbing also made our day very special…we were both relieved to have left the pup at home, as she would not have appreciated so many danger sky-raisins.

Better late than never, Spring

Since winter is my downtime, I kinda dug the late spring….for a period of time. Been over it for a while, and now spring is here at last. The long winter took a toll on our bees, as it did nearly every other beekeeper I know. Heavy losses…we lost many colonies, although not so many in the city, where I imagine hives were more protected by the small backyards.

There were many weeks when we could not access the yards at all; there was simply too much snow and ice to navigate the alleys.  Eventually we did Oxalic with a good foot and a half of snow on the ground (not where the yard above was, tho, this was up on the Nanaimo st hill)

Anyway, Spring is here now, and dog is my co-pilot. She contributes by jumping into the truck to eat the pollen patties and lick up the syrup. It’s a very important job…

And let’s end with a handy excuse as to why there’s been no posts since a year ago:IMG_2006

So that was Spring…

IMG_1804Embarrassing…I see that my previous post was in March. Can that really be true!? Well, to update you on how my assessments fared for my breeder colonies, I did indeed do a second data collection at the beginning of April, and then used those two bit of information to decide which colonies should be tested for hygienic behavior. The ones that survived the winter well, built up nicely, and had a fairly gentle disposition were the ones I submitted to be tested.  We are so happy to be one of the many beekeeping operations across Canada participating in this study, which aims to develop a tool based on the molecular structure of the bees, so that bee breeders can use it to select for beneficial traits (hygienic behavior, honey production, disposition, etc). Our bees get tested for all kinds of things, and it’s great information for us to have!

So, one of the excuses reasons for why it’s been 3 months since our last update?

We are incredibly excited to announce that we received funding from the Lush Sustainable Fund! We are using it to double our queen production capacity (which is now complete; many more 3-way boxes at our new mating yard, pictured below)

Umm…including the newly minted “cat lid”. We had a bbq recently, and gave guests the option of stenciling onto equipment, if they felt crafty.  Bees can see shapes, so I hope it will help the newly mated queens find their way! Thank you, friends, for being waaaay more artistic than me.

Part of doubling our capacity has meant hiring our very first part-time employee; welcome Courtney, we are so happy to have you!  It’s meant a big learning curve for us, as we’ve never had an employee before, but I think we’ve got all the things in order for now (also hence the absence of posts — see? another excuse reason). But it is just amazing to have a capable beekeeper like that out there with me; we can get so much done, which really matters in the June-uary weather we’ve been having, where you might only have half a day of sunshine before the downpour begins.  It’s also a huge mental and physical relief to me at times when the workload is heavy,  time-sensitive, and accomplished while sweating buckets in a bee suit.

Anyway. Dandelion has come and gone.  Maple and Horse Chestnut too.I always keep meticulously detailed records of those early blooms, with pictures, because I am so excited that winter is over. Then everything blooms at once, swarm season comes, and I stop keeping track.  Swarms are over, too, for the most part. We had most of our swarms in late April, owing to the early hot weather (that was a particularly galling swarm on the upper right there. I climbed that cherry tree maybe 8 times, and in the end, still didn’t get the queen — they just fly back up if you don’t get her. That was also my “car2go” swarm, as Liam had the truck). We had many swarms during that unexpected hot patch…but it seems to have evened out now, as we have been religiously taking bees and brood out of hives to make up our mating nucs.

Blackberry bloom has come, and almost gone. No pics…maybe next post?(Don’t laugh…school’s almost out, and I’ll have more time, I swear!)

Until then.




Mid-Winter Buzz + Hastings Winter Farmers Market Dates


On top of Mt. Seymour

Although according to the calendar, winter has just begun, I think of it as half over already. For me, spring begins near the end of February, where usually we have days warm enough to be bee-days.   November through February are dormant months, where the bees don’t fly that much. They don’t hibernate, but their metabolic rate decreases, and they huddle together for warmth, like penguins, taking turns on the outside of the cluster.  They stay inside, eat their honey reserves, and on sunny days, occasionally make “cleansing flights” (where they poop.  Because it’s gross to poop inside the hive, right?!)


A pleasingly large winter cluster. It was about 4 or 5 degrees C.

We hibernate a bit too; rest a little before the bee season begins again.

Those of you who know us, know that usually the only way to get some of our honey is to personally intercept one of us…but, starting Sunday,  January 3 for the first time, we will be at the Hastings Winter Farmer’s Market!

We will also be there Jan. 10, February 21, March 6, and March 20th; but the market goes all winter.
The market is located on the PNE grounds, off of Renfrew, just north of Hastings.

Varieties we’ll have:
Trout Lake
Mostly Blackberry
East Van Dark

If you’re driving, there’s free parking on the PNE grounds but you need to say you’re there for the farmers market.

Happy New Year, hope it is a sweet one.

Honey Release! & Bulk Honey Week Returns, Aug. 21-29


Our fresh crop of honey is ready! If you are already part of the honey hotline (our email list,  which we use to send out max. 2 emails per year), you will shortly receive detailed information on where and when (our house, this week).

Honey hotline sign-up

If you don’t want to sign up, check out the contact us tab, and shoot us an email; we’ll arrange for you to drop by.

Back by popular demand is Bulk Honey Week, whereby we have honey in a tank at home for a short period of time, and are able to fill your vessels! Bulk honey is priced at $15/kg.  Please note, you only need to bring your own jar if you wish to take advantage of the special bulk pricing.  We also have lots of pre-bottled honey.

Bulk: $15kg


$10/500g       $18/kg   $50/3kg pail

This year, we have 4 kinds on offer, based on where the hives were located: Hastings-Sunrise, Grandview, Trout Lake, and Mostly Blackberry (from our hives out in Surrey).  I think the honey in the bulk tank right now is Hastings-Sunrise.

See you soon!