Keeping our own bee hives at our haskap berry farm in Nova Scotia, encourages biodiversity and helps to keep our haskap bushes pollinated.
Andy Breen has been our beekeeper at the farm since 2010 and lately, he has been busy doing the annual ‘spring clean’. In each hive, while checking the frames, he looks for eggs, the queen and any signs of disease. These will help him determine the health of the colony.
Andy grew up in the UK but has been living in Nova Scotia for the past 20 years. His interest in beekeeping started as a teenager while helping look after his uncle’s bee hives in Buckinghamshire.
Over the years, Andy has learnt about natural beekeeping through a variety of courses. In 2010, he took a class with Ross Conrad which discussed organic and sustainable beekeeping. This course and others have helped Andy to implement these practices at our farm. This enables him to create the most bee-friendly environment for our bees and other pollinators that help our plants in producing an abundance of delicious berries.
Andy prefers to take a natural approach to beekeeping by keeping year-round apiaries near the haskap orchard and leaving sufficient honey in the hives for the winter, thus removing the need for supplemental feeding. The bees are left with all their own hard-earned stores of food for winter, and never fed sugar water. Bees work hard to make their honeycombs, so we never scrape them away to make candles.
Visible in the photo above is the brilliant yellow and orange pollen collected for protein, and shiny liquid nectar to be nursed into honey. Notice the darker brown comb caps. Here is where eggs are stored with a more porous comb cap so the young bees can breathe.
We are currently working towards expanding the number of hives across Lonetree Farm which will be used for pollination. We are also trying to determine the amount of hives our farm can support without additional feeding.
Another aspect important to Andy is improving biodiversity at the farm which will increase the period of available food for the bees as well as encourage native pollinators to thrive.
Our bees are left with all their own hard-earned stores of food for winter, and never fed sugar water. Bees work hard to make their honeycombs, so we never scrape them away to make candles.
Many thanks to our beekeeper Andy for the Spring update and images, with thanks for the additional information and photos from our farmer Cynthia.