Monday, March 28, 2011
In this neighbourhood we are very lucky to have a couple of apiaries whose bees help pollinate the many apple orchards. Did you know that 25 per cent of Ontario's apples come from the Beaver Valley-Meaford area? So you can see bees are really important. Pollinating by hand would be impossible and counting on wild bees or other insects too chancy.
So our honey gatherers have many hives around and about the countryside. For a couple of years there was a problem with the bees, and many more than usual died over winter. Last winter was more or less okay and I've crossed my fingers for this one.
The hives that you can see in this protected area have enough honey inside to keep the bees over winter. The tops are sealed so they can't get out - rocks are added to the tops so that raccoons and others (bears for example) can't get in. These hives will grow as the bees begin to produce honey. The beekeeper will add new levels to each hive with more screens for the bees to use to make honey.
It's a complicated business. The people who have apiaries are among the most dedicated of farmers, well I guess in fact to be a small farmer these days you have to be dedicated.
I get all my honey from the Honey House in Clarksburg. You can also buy beeswax candles, beeswax for polishing furniture, take your children or go personally on a mini-tour of how bees make honey and how the Honey House works. There are also many other bee and honey related gifts in the shop. It's a wonderful place to visit.
This business has been passed down from father to daughter. Many years ago I worked on the local paper up here and wrote a story about the Beekeeper... now I'm writing about the Beekeeper's daughter and her husband and family. Full circle.
Soon, when spring finally lets her skirts down in this area, I'll see the beekeeper and his wife (the daughter) out checking the hives to see how their friends the bees wintered over. Hopefully this will have been a good year. And because I find this such an interesting story, I'll try and get some more photographs and do a proper story on the process - from the bees' point of view as well as from the consumers'.
Have a sweet day!