Monday, August 30, 2010

A Beekeeper and His Label

Truly the title should be A (Finally Happy) Beekeeper and His Label.

Here's my Dad, Lorne, holding up one of our large jars of honey.

Not only does the jar have a label, he is standing in his booth at a local farmer's market where he's hawking our honey.

I dubbed him our marketing manager, especially since I wasn't interested in getting into the work of selling honey.

I just wanted a hobby with the bees and to observe them for my research. I didn't care if I made a dime.

But not so for my 'keener' beekeeping partner. He wants to recoup some costs.

I admit that equipment and the extractor make this an expensive hobby.

Now you must see this label which I designed. (Sorry the photo isn't so great).

We went camping the end of July and I took my lap top along.

I'm not really into electronics while vacationing but I thought I might be inspired while sitting outside to work on my book--it's a children's novel about honey bees.

And, I thought there will probably be a rainy day and if that happened I just might work on that label.

Yes 'that' label.

The one that Dad has been whinging for for the last three months.

Sure enough, we did have a rainy day.

I got the lap top out and created the design I'd had in mind all along.

It incorporates the name of my book, Bee-Magic.

The picture is one of my watercolour paintings.

The important thing is that Dad liked it.

He did want his name on the label but I told him I didn't think that was appropriate.

He was pleased though when I opted for his address and number on the label. They can call him for their refills. He was happy about that.

The booth at the market was fairly cheap and it also gave Dad an opportunity to sell some veggies from his large garden.

It's always nice to recoup some gas money when travelling back and forth to the garden.

He sold quite a bit of honey that day and veggies too.

I worried that no one would buy any and he'd be upset. I even considered giving someone some money and sending them over to buy a jar. My worries were completely unfounded.

Here's a customer buying one of our 1 kg jars of honey.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sneak Honey Theif

At first it was just a feeling that something was different. I was perusing the jars of honey and I had a thought, didn't we have more jars than that?

Oh well. Life is busy and I went on my way.

This summer has been a real balancing act. Hot (really) hot weather, busy productive bees, gardening--my arm is finally working normally again--and of course that full-time job that gets in the way of all the fun.
So when I thought I had a few less jars of honey, I put it down to my own inattention.

Then a week later I was in the basement and looked over the jars of honey all lined up. I was certain more were missing. The second clue was when I came home and found that the back hall light was left on. I don't leave it on.
My suspect. A gentleman who's 75 years old but complains he's 'pushing 80': Dad.

I confronted him. "Are you stealing jars of honey from the basement when I'm not home?"

"I took a few jars, yes."
Then he explained how a lady wanted 2 jars and other person 1 jar and yet another lady wanted 6 small jars.

He'd been busy drumming up customers.

"I'm going to write about you stealing honey from the basement," I said.

"Don't do that," he said.

"Why?" I asked. It's not like our family to keep secrets.

"Because then they'll know where we keep the honey."

"Oh, I see. You're worried if people know where the honey is that they might steal it."

He nodded.

I think he was picturing our jars of honey like they were bars of gold. Maybe they are.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bee Fashionable

Are you wearing the latest trend?

In case you didn't know, it's honey bees. And you wear them as a beard.

This fashion doesn't discriminate and both men and women can participate.

The bees certainly don't seem to notice the difference.

Here's Dad pictured with Albert, this year's winner. He's wearing 5.2 lbs of bees.

The beard wearing participants all state how important it is to have a good "bee groomer".

You need someone who is skilled at handling bees. I'm thinking a Bee Whisperer would be handy to have around for this.

The groomer applies the bees, removes any stinging bees or stingers if there are any. They shook frames of bees onto newspaper and then poured the bees onto the volunteers.

At first they'd cup their hands to hold the bees but gradually the bees would smell their queen--tied with fishing line around the neck of each volunteer. Then they'd move up to cluster around her.

This bee covered gentleman is Tibby, the runner up and people's choice award winner.

I can't believe how calm and relaxed he was wearing bees over his entire head. He had 4.4 lbs of bees on his head and shoulders and hands.

Most of the time he couldn't even see until his 'bee groomer' got out a credit card to sweep the bees off his eyes.

I love the historic buildings at Clovermead and especially the historic beekeeping equipment.

Here's a photo of a bee skep, with bees inside. I leaned in close and could see the bottoms of their honeycombs.

It's been set on the other side of a window. How clever.

Both the hive and skep are placed so that everyone can relax and get up really close without fear of the bees.

This hive sites outside a window where the public can view the bees come and go up close.

The bee gum tree is awesome.

It sits inside a small courtyard that has a screened walkway all the way around. Visitors can watch bee hives be opened and bees displayed and watch bees come and go from the hive or bee gum behind the safety of the screening.

Girls aren't to be left behind when it comes to bees.

Christie Hiemstra (she and her husband Chris own Clovermead) wore a bee beard for the first time. She was wearing 2.4 lbs of bees - pictured below.

Another beekeeper named Chris was wearing a nicely shaped beard of 1.4 lbs. of bees.

I hope to try the beard one day myself.... next year.

Dad was not to be left out of the action and he helped record the bee beard weights and informed everyone that he was a new beekeeper.

He also participated in a smoker lighting contest.

He actually got his smoker lit first but ended up in second place behind another gentleman who took longer but had a lot more smoke coming from his smoker.

(Dad and I don't really use smoke much with our bees - we don't need it. But we do light the smoker every time just in case though).

I was not to be left out of the competition and I participated in a race to hammer a hive together.

I finished first but unfortunately fell to second place when another person had their box more square than mine.

(I'll remember that for next year to include quality along with my speed).

A fun time was had by all. The bees were most cooperative, along with the weather.

It was very hot with temperatures around 30 and a humidex of around 40 degrees Celsius.

Thankfully, they had a misting system set up that you could stand under and be cooled off by. It worked just like the mist at Niagara Falls and it was very refreshing.

Other competition in the Olympics was comb crushing, a hive tool toss at balloons, a race to put on a beekeeping outfit, and bee catching.

Participants for the first round were beekeepers and then the public got to volunteer to have a try at it too.

The children kept themselves very busy with the go-carts, flying fox, sand pit, hay bales, etc.

Here's a video of the second place runner up hitting the bee fashion runway....

Friday, August 13, 2010

Article - What we can learn from the bees

Here's a quick post to share an email and link to a site with a really good article about bees.


I recently discovered your blog, and I have become a frequent reader. My name is Alan with. and we recently published an article “10 Valuable Life & Business Lessons You Can Learn from Bees” that dovetails well with your audience. Perhaps you would be interested in sharing with them? Here's the link to the article if you would like to take a quick look for yourself: 10 Valuable Life Business Lessons You can Learn from Bees. You can also simply go to our homepage and check it out there.

Thanks again for the great content, and I hope the article I've linked primes your interest.


Alan Wood