I buy honey locally from a lady who is always at our local farmer’s market.
Today was Open Farm Day in Nova Scotia. It is an annual day where participating farmers open up their farm for a few hours for tours and questions.
I looked at the map on MeetYourFarmer.ca and noticed that the Cornect Family Farm was listed on the participants list.
Jeff is out of town, and my houseguests aren’t expected until later today, the camera and I headed to the honey farm.
I learned so much about local honey today.
Did you know honey bees aren’t even native here? All honey bees have been bred and purchased for their honey making qualities.
Honey farmers are territorial, and keep their bees in a local area, preferring to have their own colonies.
Did you know a bee farmer won’t need to bring in new bees for genetic variation? That is because a queen will mate with 12 drones and keep their own populations genetically diverse.
And did you know you can start a new hive without a queen because the bees are smart enough to inject one egg with royal jelly to make their own queen!
Did you know bees don’t really have an immune system and are susceptible to many things? That is why they are an indicator of problems in the environment because they are the first to feel the effects of a problem.
Although sometimes the collapse of a farmer’s bee colonies are caused by their own carelessness or mistreatment of the bees.
The Cornect Family Farm produces a wide variety of honey and honey products. I love their honey that is in a squeezable bottle for my morning toast, and I love their bee wax lip balm.
Margaret explained that they built this small building for selling their products and for extracting the honey. They started with about 60 hives, but the manual labour for popping the wax off the honey before it was extracted and put in the large centrifuge like device was practically debilitating.
They keep expanding and have the proper equipment now to take 3 months of work, and do it in just 1 week by letting a machine extract the honey.
The honey produced here is non-pasteurized. They also don’t blend their honey, meaning, they process a group of hives at the same time. Their honey is light and is produced mostly with the pollen from wild flowers. Every area will have a different taste, depending on what the bees are pollinating.
To export any honey from out of the province, it has to be produced in a federally inspected facility. The addition on the back of their new extracting facility is being built to satisfy government food processing standards and will be regularly inspected.
Margaret’s son now owns the bees and they are up to 300 hives. He showed us the new extracting equipment.
The hives in here are full of honey waiting to be extracted. It smelled INCREDIBLE in here.
Most of the honey is sold in large pails. These say “summer honey” on them.
I was surprised to see a pallet of sugar in here! What, honey isn’t sweet enough? Well who knew that honey farmers had to actually feed their honey bees to get them through the winter? A sugar solution is mixed and put into trays into the hives for the bees.
The bee produce the honey and then seal it off with bees wax, just like how we use wax when we’re canning. Dip your finger in and taste he said!
Here is the new equipment that saves days of manual labour. I was listening to other people there who had a couple of hives and they were also saying how time consuming and back backing it is to extrude the honey. One business line this farm is considering is extracting honey for other small farmers with their new equipment.
The bees wax is collected. Everything is used from inside a bee hive! It is used for candles and lip balm and skin care products.
I also got to visit one of their beehives sites. They rent hives to local blue berry farmers for a couple weeks in June. I believe the price she mentioned was $125’ish. You need 4 hives per acre? I think.
I asked if wildlife are a problem, because I’ve noticed they are usually surrounded by electric fencing. Turns out skunks and bears are the worse. Skunks will scratch at the hives and eat the bees as they come out.
I was wearing a black hooded sweater and was told I was most likely to get stung because the bees could think I was a bear. White is safest. They even drive a white truck. They actually move the bees around in the dark when they are not flying around, and even cover their headlights with a red cover.
A big tray of bees wax was sitting on the grass out beside the road. I could see it was popular by the bees because they were flying all around. As it turns out, to clean the bees wax, they let the bees and wasps and ants do it! They remove the honey and leave only the wax behind.
See the difference? She has dirty bees wax in her left hand, and clean wax in her right.
This is truly a great program for people to learn about their local farms. I think next year I will head to one of the alpaca farms!