Since discovering the incredible world of Honey Bees, my fascination with them has not waned in the years, my interest and obsession having only grown. I now have a hive count of close to 100 colonies, a comfortable number that I can still manage on my own. Most of my apiaries are located within 15 minutes of Wolfville in the beautiful Annapolis Valley.
All of my apiaries are small, usually comprised of 8 to a maximum of 12 colonies. When seeking out new yards I try and maintain a distance (where possible) from any areas I know to have active agricultural spraying potential. A few of my outyards are located in long abandoned orchards.
Over the years, I have changed and adapted my approach to working with these amazing creatures. Aproximately 4 years ago I stopped moving my bees to pollination, finding the movement of my colonies stressful to both myself (I'm not getting any younger) and the bees. Since doing so I have found a remarkable difference in the over wintering success I have been fortunate enough to realize. Like the line from Ulee's Gold,"I take care of them, and they take care of me".
I am a small operation, I do most all the tasks, from tending the bees to collecting and harvesting the honey, to bottling and labelling my jars and selling the finished product locally. I source as much of the material neccessary to do so locally where possible. You can be confidant that all honey purchased from me is honey from my hives, and my hives alone. If I run out, I'm out.
Honey bees are amazing creatures, and I am truly fortunate to have discovered this vocation. There are no days where I dread going to "work"!
"If you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life"!
Thanks for visiting,
Honey Bees and Politics (permit me a rant)!
How on Earth do Honey Bees and Politics end up in the same sentence? Not easy, but when political decisions are made that affect those of us that share our lives with these amazing creatures it is inevitable.
Permit me a rant if you will. I want to preface this tirade by stating up front that I do not belong to or am a member of any political party, Provincial or Federal.
As a beekeeping community we have been affected to some degree by almost every political party there is, and therein lays the problem. We are a small group of people and our political clout is not deemed to be serious. The best interests of our community are constantly being placed behind those of other stakeholders involved in our industry. Recently our current Provincial Government through its Minister of Agriculture Keith Colwell, decided to rule against a proposal by the only Beekeeping Association representing all beekeepers of Nova Scotia to close our provincial borders to protect our local honey bee population. Hives were allowed to enter our province from an area in Ontario known to have an established presence of the Small Hive Beetle, a pest we do not currently have in our province, despite the risks. An inspection team was formed to go to Ontario to “protect” us from this pest, comprised of “blueberry growers” (no apparent conflict there) and as the government states “members of the Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association”. The government well knows this information is misleading as the position of the NSBA was unanimous in its decision to ask for a border closure. Any beekeepers who chose to participate in this “inspection” did so wholly on their own volition and not as representatives of the Association, yet the government continues to imply that the association is involved, thereby lending credibility to their “effort” to protect us. The Associations response to the Minister’s decision has been deafeningly quiet.
As well, at the same time as the Government was approached regarding the initial request for a border closure to protect our local population of honey bees, a request was made to adopt the NSBA Code of Ethics in regards to the practice of open barrel feeding into enforceable law. Currently in the NSBA Code of Ethics, the practice of unrestricted access feeding is prohibited during the period of May 15th to September 15th, the period when the vast majority of honey producing beekeepers have honey supers on their colonies, trying to collect nectar. While there is nothing legally binding in the code, it is deemed to be good husbandry and ethically correct in order to protect the honey harvest from being adulterated by sugar syrup, with or without any medications being supplied to the bees in this manner. Anyone not in the Association may not feel bound or compelled to abide by this and can continue this practice during the restricted period thereby placing anyone with colonies in the vicinity at risk of contamination of their honey crop.
This request was made at the same time as the border closure request, and while the government was quick to rule against the Association’s border closure request, it has dragged its feet on the open barrel feeding issue, with no decision seen in the foreseeable future. Again, the majority of the beekeepers of Nova Scotia have seen their interests come second to business models where methods are chosen for their ease and cost saving measures, at the expense of the majority. Lest you believe that the Official Opposition party would act on either of these issues, they have been informed, and have chosen to do.........................nothing.
Without healthy honey bees, protected from invasive pests we do not yet have, and a government not willing to respond meaningfully to concerns of all local beekeepers, the future is anything but clear in regards to the sustainability of beekeeping in Nova Scotia.