About our products...
Honey Bee History
Have you ever wondered how honey is produced, where bee pollen, or beeswax comes from, and how honey bee nucleus colonies (nucs) are produced?
Honey bees have literally existed on earth for millions of years. They evolved from ancient predatory wasps that lived 120 million years ago. However unlike these carnivorous wasps, bees mostly feed on flowers. The two main resources they collect from flowers are nectar and pollen. Simply put, the nectar is their primary energy source, while the pollen is their primary nutrition. Through evolution, bees have also become ancient architects developing efficient hexagonal (beeswax) comb as individual storage compartments within the beehive. Bees use comb for raising brood (bee egg, larvae, pupae) into members of the colony, and for storing foraged nectar that they convert into honey, and foraged pollen that they convert into bee bread for storage, and use to feed their brood.
For millennium (roughly 10,000 years), humans have been collecting honey from wild bees. Through a managed beehive (Langstroth) design developed in 1851, we are able to work with removable reusable frames inside stackable boxes that mimic conditions bees experience in the wild. Bees produce beeswax through special glands that create the hexagonal shaped comb on both sides of a foundation inside each frame. Bees also use their wax to cap (close off) each cell until it needs to be accessed in the future.
In our region honey is harvested following the peak nectar flow during summer between late July to the end of August each year. We assess the needs of our apiary, understanding what is required for each colony to survive the winter ahead. We then calculate and pull the excess honey for harvest, extracting, packaging, and consumption.
The langstroth beehive design allows us to harvest the stored cured nectar that has been converted to honey through an extracting process, returning the frames back to the beehive for use again each year. There are many scales of size honey extractors, but the principle is generally the same. Expose the capped honey, and remove the liquid honey from the honeycomb through centrifugal force within a vertical or horizontal drum. Once extracted, we filter the raw liquid honey and package for consumption. Comb honey uses a frame without a foundation, or a very thin wax foundation, that the beekeeper uses to cut out and package without an extraction process ready for consumption.
The quality and characteristics of honey vary from region to region and even location to location depending on the available forage. The 3 basic categories of honey are; Single Origin, Multi-Flower, and Local, with the 3 forms being; Liquid, Creamed/ Whipped, and Honey Comb. Most often honey is a varietal blend of what is predominantly available in their area, unless a honey producer is producing a single origin variety. Some of the most common multi-floral sources in our area can include; alfalfa, clover, dandelion, fireweed, and wildflower, while canola, buckwheat, manuka, eucalyptus, and sourwood, are popular in other parts of the world.
Bee pollen is collected by honey bees while foraging from flower to flower. As they fly through the air, their bodies become positively charged with static electricity, such that when they land on a flower, the pollen particles stick to the static charged hairs covering their body. They use their corbiculae (back legs/ pollen baskets) to transport the flower pollen (protein) back to the hive. Beekeepers use pollen traps during peak pollen harvest times of the year that encourage bees to pass through the trap brushing off some of the collected pollen into a tray for the beekeeper to harvest. Harvesting bee pollen for consumption is a balance between ensuring the hive has enough to sustain itself, and collecting the access, much like harvesting honey. The beekeeper then dries and cleans the pollen collected for consumption.
Bee pollen is a complete protein, rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and anti-oxidants. It is considered an immune system builder that will also enhance vitality. Bee pollen is also a great brain booster, lifting brain fatigue, improving alertness and helping concentration levels over an extended period of time.
Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honey bees. The bees form the wax into scales by wax-producing glands in the abdomen of the worker bees. Beeswax is used to create the hexagonal comb for storage of brood, pollen > bee bread, and nectar > honey. Beeswax is also used to cap (close off) brood cells, honey cells, and queen cells.
We collect beeswax during the honey extracting process from the wax capping, any damaged comb from the extracting equipment, and every few years from the beehive frames to keep the reused comb within a hive in good condition. We render (melt down and filter) the combination of beeswax to purify it from any remnant honey and impurities. The end result is a fine filtered beeswax with many applications and practical uses.
Our beeswax blocks are made from 100% pure filtered beeswax, rendered from wax cappings during the honey extraction process.
Beeswax has many uses ranging from; food wraps, candles, furniture polish, crayons, lip balm, wood lubricant, body butter, footwear waterproofing, wood cutting board conditioning, rust preventative for tools, homemade deodorant, lotion bars, soothing cracked heels and hands, homemade vapor rubs, and the list of great uses goes on.
Honey Bee Stock
The domestication of bees is shown in Egyptian art from around 4,500 years ago. Honey bees were originally imported into North America from Europe in the 17th century, now widely used to help pollinate many crops like fruits and nuts, and commercial produce honey. Bee stock is a term commonly used identifying honey bees as livestock. Similar to other commercially raised livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, goats, etc.) honey bees are reared and bred commercially for specific characteristics and traits.
Our Honey Bee Stock
Our honey bee stock production is almost completely Carnolian Honey Bees.
The Carnolian honey bee is favored among beekeepers for several reasons, not the least being its ability to defend
itself successfully against insect pests while at the same time being extremely gentle in its behavior toward beekeepers. These bees are particularly adept at adjusting worker population to nectar availability. It relies on these rapid adjustments of population levels to rapidly expand worker bee populations after nectar become available in the spring, and, again, to rapidly cut off brood production when nectar ceases to be available in quality. It meets periods of high nectar with high worker populations and consequently stores large quantities of honey and pollen during those periods. They are resistant to some diseases and parasites that can debilitate hive of other subspecies.
*Considered to be gentle and non-aggressive
*Can be kept in populated areas
*Sense of orientation considered better than the Italian honey bee
*Less drifting of bees from one hive to a neighboring hive
*When compared to the Italian honey bee, they are not as prone to rob honey
*Able to overwinter in smaller numbers of winter bees
*Honey stores are conserved
*Able to quickly adapt to changes in the environment
*Better for areas with long winters
*Fast rhythm of brood production and then brood rearing reduction when available forage decreases
*Low use of propolis
*Resistant to brood diseases
*For areas with strong spring nectar flow and early pollination
*Forage earlier in the morning and later in the evening, and on cool, wet days
*Workers live up to 12% longer than other breeds
*More prone to swarming if overcrowded
*Low ability to thrive in hot summer weather
*Strength of brood nest more dependent on availability of pollen
*Unless marked the dark queen is difficult to find
Each year we harness the honey bee colony's reproductive energy (during the early spring) to build up the colony size, by splitting them into smaller (nucleus/ nuc) colonies. The process controls their instinct to outgrow their hive and multiply into additional colonies (swarm), by maintaining the parent hive as a manageable size. We rear (raise) queen bees by simulating one of the colonies natural impulses (emergency queen replacement) to reproduce a new queen within the hive (queen rearing). We replicate this process at scale with specific timing, and delicate conditions, harvesting nearly hatched queen cells to be introduced to a queen-less colony to maturity. Once hatched the queen completes a mating flight, is confirmed to be laying, and if needed is harvested for a waiting queen-less nucleus colony.
Nucleus (nuc) Colonies
We produce nucleus colonies nucs) to support new beekeepers getting into beekeeping, replace winter loss, and/ or increase operational size. In the past we have produced 4 frame nucs for sale. In 2022 we are transitioning to offer mostly 5 frame nucs as we develop our nuc production processed for greater efficiency and value to our customers (retail and commercial). The advantage of a 5 frame nuc (compared to a 4 frame nuc) is that it is usually further developed at the time of purchase lessening the effort required by the customer to make up that developmental time.
Custom 5 Frame Nuc Boxes
We are focused on providing a custom 5 frame nuc box design that will continue to be useful to the customer with additional functionality, instead of just packaging to transport the bees. Additional functions include, top feeding syrup from outside of the cover (with a plastic plug when not feeding), screened ventilation on the bottom and back of the nuc box for temperature control, migratory top and bottom with 1/2 ply walls allowing two nuc boxes to fit onto a 10 frame Langstroth super increasing options for creating splits, a disc wheel entrance for easy control of flight, an extra bee space above the top bars and below the inner cover to allow for supplemental pollen patty feeding.
Provincial Bee Regulations
It's worth mentioning that we respect, follow and advocate for the British Columbia Bee Regulation, which includes; registering all our bee yard locations, ensuring that our honey bees are healthy (below the allowable varroa mite threshold and disease free), and are inspected annually by the Provincial Regional Bee Inspector to receive a permit of sale. Our reputation (and repeat business) is based on the quality of our product. It is extremely important that we provide healthy, happy, and productive honey bees to our customers. We strongly encourage all of our customers to Contact Us if there is ever an issue with any of our products to we can resolve any issues immediately.
As always, the devil is in the details, and there are an exceptional amount of details in each of the areas of production above. So many variables to consider with each managed process including; science, environment, weather, timing, planning, resource management, to name a few. We hope you enjoyed our simplified explanation of our product production processes. If you still have any questions on how we produce and/ or where we source any of our quality products, please Contact Us by email, or send us a message through any of our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter social media accounts.