Picnics and Bees

A group of my dearest friends and I drove out to Chinook Honey Co. yesterday and shared in a picnic, an educational tour about the life of bees in a colony and a tour of Chinook Arch Meadery.

P1170423The weather was blustery, after four days of challenging weather, but the sun peeked out and our lively conversation and good food made a great start to the day.  I haven’t grabbed permission for any public photographs, but will give some highlights of the day.

P1170370

2014 retirement picnic. I’m missing an archive of Pat’s to-die-for chocolate cake and fresh berries.

The educational tour was enlightening.  I have become really interested in the life of bees since viewing the film, The Vanishing Bees at the Marda Loop Social Justice film days.  You can access the entire documentary on YouTube.  I learned more specific information about honey bees, their specific hierarchy and the roles of each type of bee in the hive.

Sharing the details that I learned may show my ignorance…but, I’m also pretty excited to be continuing to learn.

I didn’t know that the worker bees are all female.

I didn’t know that the queen bee that emerges first, kills all other prospective royals and even the existing queen (if weak, old and unproductive).

I didn’t know that the life span of any given bee is only six weeks and that the constant production of new bees is paramount to the life of the colony.

I didn’t know that bees prefer to forage canola more than alfalfa.  Alfalfa is structured in such a way that when gathering from the plant, the bee is bopped in the noggin over and over again.  So, if in close proximity (within five kms. of the hive), the bee will prefer to forage canola.  The unfortunate thing, however, is that canola is being genetically modified while the alfalfa farmers seem to have made a commitment to sustain a natural crop.  Once the bees engage in genetically modified plants, there seems to be an issue with pollination success rates.

I was amazed by the size of colonies and the activities within the colonies, in the production of wax and honey.  I am awed by the specifics of the various processes and the overall industry of the hive.

P1170381 P1170383 P1170384 P1170385 P1170386 P1170387 P1170388 P1170391Beekeeping is an art and it was interesting looking at and seeing the specialized purpose for each part of a hive.

From this session, we went on to the meadery and learned about the process of making mead, an art that has been perfected for centuries.  We had opportunity to test from a generous list of mead produced on site.  This was a fun event!

P1170394P1170400 P1170401 P1170402 P1170405 P1170407 P1170408 P1170409 P1170411 P1170412 P1170413 P1170414 P1170415 P1170416 P1170419 P1170420 P1170421 P1170422I’ve posted an archive of the equipment here, just because I think it would be of interest to our family friend, Dave, of Cold Creek Winery’s in Frankford.  A good explanation was given about the process of making mead and the delicate balance that is required, given the ever-changing variables of honey.  It was a yummy treat to then sample the existing list of meads, my favourites being Melissa’s Gold and Bodacious Black Current.

Top the entire day off with a bit of gift shopping and yummy honey and Saskatoon berry icec ream scooped into the cone and it was an excellent day.  I cherish my friends and wish them good health and many adventures on their retirement.

P1170426Here’s a little clip from a British Columbia, Tugwell Creek Farm and Meadery, (very well done) just so that my readers can take a look at the equipment, rather than having me write about it.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Picnics and Bees

  1. This is such a fascinating and important piece of information about bees. We generally know nothing about bees and yet they are such an important part of our world. As they disappear so does the ecological balance of the planet. Look to the smallest creatures amongst us for messages about where we are and how we can keep what is important. Thanks Kathleen for this…

  2. I am quite interested in bees. Not many people appreciate their value, but rather see them as nuisances. Just around the corner from our housing area, a couple opened a bee shop. They sell bees and beekeeping equipment to the locals, and have a good stock of various kinds of honey and honey candies. My grandchild was fascinated when we visited and learned more about bees.

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