How did you first become interested in beekeeping?
We have a large garden at our Calgary home and several years ago we decided to introduce bees to help with pollination and add something to make our garden more of an ‘urban farm’. We took an introductory beekeeping course with Eliese Watson of ABC Bees here in Calgary and it was an immediate connection! Mike continued the learning with Eliese for two years though her internship program and then began building up our own apiaries in areas around Calgary.
What are the benefits of consuming honey?
Unpasteurized honey provides phytonutrients and beneficial bacteria.
How does the taste of honey vary depending on what it is sourced from, climate, etc?
The taste of honey varies based on the flowers the nectar is collected from and the growing conditions for those flowers. Because there are different flowers in different areas and at different times of the year, you can experience a variety of flavours from the same location depending on the time of year.
We love to get honey from different areas around the world as each one is a reflection of the region it comes from.
We find that some of our honey has a stronger floral taste, while others are more citrus. We just extracted some spring honey that is dominantly from dandelions at our Millarville yard - it seems smoother on the tongue and less sweet than our fall honey, which is from a winter forage pasture of clovers, sanfoin, alfalfa and milk vetch. We’re excited to find out the differences between each of our bee yards this year - come by for samples and let us know what you taste!
What is your favourite aspect about taking part in farmers’ markets?
We love that we can share our passion for honey bees with others, and what makes our honey taste the way it does. This is the benefit of a farmers’ market - the connection between the farmer or maker and the customer, creating a connection between food and those who bring it to your table.
Why is it important to buy local in your opinion?
There are many reasons. Most important is support for local business to create a sustainable community. We also believe that buying local provides an opportunity for consumers to connect with the businesses and make an informed decisions about what they purchase.
What is your favourite food-related way to use honey?
We make a syrup that is 2 parts honey to 1 part ground fresh ginger (by weight), with a spritz of lemon to taste, and add it to either soda water for a wonderfully refreshing cold drink or to hot water for a soothing tea. We make big batches (2L) of the syrup at a time and will go through it in a few weeks.
What is an interesting fact about bees or honey that most people wouldn’t know?
One pound (454g) of honey is the hard work of 600 bees that fly over 80,000 km to collect nectar from 2 million flowers. Each bee will collect 0.8 grams of honey in her lifetime (all workers are female).
How many beehives do you have at your farm and how much honey do you produce on a yearly basis?
We have over 65 hives in our 6 bee yards, which are located in pasture or grasslands near Crossfield, Airdrie, Symons Valley, Spring Bank and Millarville. Our smallest yard has 4 hives and our largest has 24. Between all the yards, we anticipate that we will be able to extract 1500kg of honey this year.
Visit Two Pine Farms on their website and at Robert McClure Farmers' Market every Friday from 3 -7 PM.