History of Beekeeping
It sometimes seems that we have been keeping bees for a very long time. Bees are not native to North America but came with the early settlers.
The first bees in British Columbia came in the 1850’s. People sometimes romanticize about the old skep type hive but it really has no practical use anymore. Honey collected from skeps was difficult to extract, and the bees were often killed in the process.
In addition, the fact that skeps had to be waterproofed each year using a plaster of fresh cow manure was not good marketing.
Langstroth, an American clergyman, discovered the concept of bee space in the 1850’s. This led to the idea of movable frames which can be put into a centrifuge for honey extraction. Now we use two main sizes of bee boxes and they are stackable to allow for expansion of the hive as summer progresses.
Before the introduction of varroa mites bees did very well in North America. They were cheap and were often shipped by mail order throughout the continent. They were so cheap that many beekeepers killed off their hives each fall rather than feeding bees for the winter.
This completely changed in the 1980’s. Varroa mites did such devastation that the border between Canada and the United States was closed in 1987. Replacement bees now had to be shipped from Australia or New Zealand and the prices skyrocketed. Replacing bee stock each year was no longer an option that made any kind of economic sense.
Because bees attacked by varroa mites do not thrive and are susceptible to new diseases, a greater knowledge about bees and a closer monitoring of hives has become necessary. New pesticides can have long lasting toxic effects on bees if they are improperly used.
The challenges for beekeepers continue to grow, but generating bee stock and queens that are environmentally suited for our local environment, and supporting other beekeeers with similar goals, has become another passion of ours.
Try our informative “From the Hive to the Table” educational tours offered April-Sept. Meet our busy bees, sample our amazing honey products and enjoy learning in our natural setting. For more info contact us.
Pollination by the honey bee is critical to the fruit production in the Fraser Valley. We have a number of local pollination contracts in blueberries, raspberries and cranberries annually. We are working together with other Fraser Valley beekeepers who are also involved in pollination.
We are always looking for new pollination contracts and bee fields where our bees can collect delicious nectar. If you would like to consult on pollination or a bee yard (orchard, crop field), please contact us. Pollination contacts should be made by mid-December the year prior to the pollination season for the crop you wish to pollinate. Our bees are committed early and we don’t want you to go with out efficient pollination.
Interested in Bee keeping?
If you have an interest in learning more about the fun of bee keeping please contact us. We would be pleased to refer you to a local bee club and answer any questions that you might have. You can also search the B.C. Honey Producer’s web-site for contacts.
General Information on bees and beekeeping
The Ministry of Agriculture web-site offers some very useful information on bees and beekeeping. The Canadian Honey Concil provides general information and resources for the public as well as educational kits for teachers.