Hot & Sticky
That’s a pretty cool swarm in Winnipeg that decided it would hang out on someone’s truck.
Bees, do that. Don’t worry, they haven’t moved-in, they are just parking there while scouts find a more permanent home. Bystanders tend to freak out a little, and I get it. But you know, it’s rather ironic that bees are actually the most docile in that state. I’ve seen beekeepers capture swarms like this in shorts and a T-shirt. That’s a little crazy, but it tells us not to panic if we see one of these clusters. Instead, call a beekeeper!
It’s been really hot, unseasonably so. Luckily there has been a little bit of rain in between the hot days which the flowers need to produce nectar. When you get a lot of hot days in a row there are no nectar sources for bees, and believe it or not, they can starve. I think we are running into this situation now, so I’ll have to keep a close eye on the hives to make sure they don’t run out of honey stores.
I’ve been furiously running around, collecting honey supers from the strong hives for extraction. Some of our hives didn’t do much at all, which is extra strange when the one beside it has three boxes filled with honey. One of life’s great mysteries is what bees are thinking, and why they do what they do.
It seems I made a poor estimate of when honey would be ready for extraction this year. Late June was pretty optimistic.
The good news! Harvest. We pulled and bottled our first supers last weekend from both apiaries. One of the McGrath Lake supers was really heavy with honey, we got 21 kilos of golden joy. It is a light golden color, mild and fruity with a mild taste of blossoms. The bees sources clover, fruit trees, annuals from our garden and even nectar from spring dandelions.
There is likely still a lot of honey to come, I’ve had to order in some new bottles in preparation. For those of you that prefer darker honey with more “bite” to it, we should have some of that in early fall.
The pre-orders have all shipped out so I’ve turned on the inventory for online ordering. Head over to the store and place an order.
Lately a number of petitions have popped up regarding the blending of imported honey by Canadian honey producers. Most notably one of Canada’s largest packer/producers has been in the news, Billy Bee (aka McCormick Canada) is alleged to be using less than 10% Canadian sourced honey, while the jars are still labelled “Canada No. 1”. In fact Billy Bee has admitted that at least 15% of their honey does not come from Canada.
Here’s where the confusion lies. Did you know that very little honey produced in Canada is certified by the government? Honey producers (ourselves included) are not required to go through the CFIA (Canada Food Inspection Agency) certification process. And even most of the large producers don’t either. The only exceptions are those who plan to export their honey outside of Canada or large amounts between provinces.
Usually only the large honey packers bother with CFIA certification (it is quite expensive). For those of you who don’t know, a packer is someone who buys honey from different sources, blends it together and sells it. Now the honey packers who are certified, if they have good quality honey will be able to label it “Canada No. 1”. This is misleading because it has nothing to do with where the honey came from, but what grade it receives on moisture content and several other factors. So, indeed, they might buy honey from China, mix it in, test it in the lab and receive this rating.
So, there are these large producers putting honey on the shelves where we have no idea how much of it comes from Vietnam, Canada or anywhere else. Moreover, who knows what pesticides, chemicals or practices have been used in the production of this honey.
There are some large producers who guarantee their honey is 100% Canadian. BeeMaid for example based in Manitoba is actually a cooperative of all beekeepers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
That being said, I think it’s more important than ever to buy your honey locally, from local beekeepers. It’s better for you, for the bees, and the industries that are served by honey bees.
Sign the petition here (it currently has over 75,000 signatures)