2019 marked the 10 year anniversary of discovering honeybees in our wall and becoming accidental beekeepers. Little did we know then that these honeybees would change everything! And make for some very exciting years ahead. 2019 was no exception...
Ideas Worth Spreading: TED features Marianne's talk about bees
Last New Year's Day, we woke up to an unusual number of new Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn followers...we love to share stories and info through social media but couldn't figure out what had triggered the little spike. And then we started getting emails about a talk that Marianne had given the previous March at TedxKanata at the Brookstreet Hotel about our beekeeping story. It turns out that TED had picked her talk to launch their New Year's series in an article called: If you want to tackle big problems, try thinking like a bee
Honey Hunting in Florida
Last January, we also jumped in the car and drove to Florida on a honey hunt. The flavour of honey is influenced by the flowers the bees visit to make it, and we were curious what flavours we would find there. The first one was orange blossom honey. In our next blog post, we'll tell you more about the trip and the wonderful honeys we tried.
Endless Winter & Cold Wet Spring
We returned from Florida to the winter that would not end...with bitter temperatures and mountains of snow. Snow is a great insulator, so we are always happy to find it piled around the beehives. It just so happened that it stayed far too long and the spring that followed was very cold and wet. This type of weather puts added stress on the bees, so we were not surprised that unfortunately a number of colonies didn't make it through the winter and some that did had dysentery (a symptom of an infection called nosema which is more common in cool wet weather). Our colonies were also a bit slow to build up in the early spring and we didn't make as many new colonies as we would had planned.
Although cold, May started out in typical fashion...with us unwrapping hives, making new colonies, getting the bees ready for the season ahead, and gearing up for our beekeeping courses.
The Linden Trees blossom
The cold, wet weather continued into June, and it was getting a bit depressing. We were starting to worry about the honey flow. In June, Ottawa sees a big bloom of wildflowers and the bees have an intense period of honey making...so far it was late. But then, the first week of July erupted with heat and humid conditions that were perfect for the basswood and linden trees to bloom...they like a wet spring and typically bloom on a 3 year cycle. When they bloom, they practically drip with nectar. The honey from these trees is light coloured, fruity, and herbaceous, best described as a mix of mint and green jolly ranchers. It made for excellent summer wildflower honey!
Breaking Ground on the Pollinator Sanctuary
At the end of June, we started a project we've had in mind for year... to build a Pollinator Sanctuary, a place where people can come and learn about bees and pollinators, while enjoying nature. With the help of Ottawa Tourism, we were delighted to start turning this dream into reality this summer, with the first of our pollinator gardens. More to come in 2020!
Beekeepers of the World Unite
In September, Montreal hosted Apimondia, the world beekeeping congress with beekeepers coming from all over the world. The timing was smack dab in the middle of the honey harvest, which made it a bit tricky for us. We managed to make it down for a day but also were delighted to welcome a number of international tours to our farm, from Spain, Hungary, and South Korea. With the help of translators, it was delightful to talk about the shared joys and challenges of beekeeping.
Our annual Bee Days in September are the culmination of the season and a day we look forward to all year, when we welcome our Hive Share holders to meet the bees that make their honey! We lucked out with the weather at all three days at our Community Supported Pollination Projects at our farm, Camelot and Wesley Clover Parks. Here are some pictures from the events. We are already planning next year's Bee Days with some new ideas to make it even better!
That's a Wrap!
We rounded out the season by wrapping our hives for winter. This gives them a layer of protection against the winter, although they are quite good a keeping warm. We also use this time to make candles and lip balm and bottle honey for sale in the store. In October, Marianne took on the role of President of the Eastern Ontario Beekeepers Association and is starting to plan next seasons meetings with the help of the team of Directors...if you are new to beekeeping or interested in the hobby, the organization is a great place to connect with other local beekeepers and learn new things. And a beekeeping course is always a good idea.
It’s safe to say that 2019 has been a busy, buzzy, and surprising season, powered by our 10 million bees who work all summer pollinating Ottawa. We are ever grateful to these amazing insects and to you - its the combination of honey lovers and honey bees that gives us purpose and fulfillment in what we do! Thank you!
2020, here we come!