You could say that honeybees are some of the hardest working producers in our food system. To make just one pound of honey, 556 worker bees need to fly over 55,000 miles to tap nectar from two million flowers! These super-producers work from spring into the fall, creating the liquid gold that Canadians love to eat. Our per capita consumption of honey is around 2.2 pounds per year, but honey isn’t the only edible benefit of honey production: our busy Canadian bees also pollinate fruits, vegetables, and legumes, a service that is valued at over $1 billion!
Despite all their hard work and effort, honeybees have not yet evolved to do the harvesting, processing, packaging, and retailing steps that are vital to getting that sticky sweet goodness from the hive to our bellies; thus, we have our equally hard working beekeepers! There are around 7000 beekeepers in Canada, ranging from small-scale to commercial sized operations. Keep reading to learn about two of the sweetest beekeeping operations in Halton Region: Derry Gold Honey and Martin’s Sweet Farm.
Derry Gold Honey
Don George and Fran Devlin of Derry Gold Honey are beekeepers in Burlington, Ontario. They have 35 hives near Rattlesnake Point where their bees feed on wildflowers. Don and Fran do everything themselves. They take care of their bees, build the hives, and extract, filter, bottle, and label their local, unpasteurized honey. Right now Derry Gold Honey is selling honey that was collected last summer and fall, but they have recently begun collecting this summer’s production. Their summer variety tends to be lighter than the fall due to the variation in what the bees feed on during the different seasons. Derry Gold Honey also sells beeswax, crystallized honey, and other value-added products that they produce.
You can find Derry Gold Honey at the Burlington Mall Farmers’ Market on Saturdays (8:00am-2:00pm, May-October), or buy directly from Don and Fran at their house by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 905.332.9626.
Martin’s Sweet Farm
Martin’s Sweet Farm is a family-run operation near Campbellville, producing everything that is sweet and delicious! Producers Les and Heather Martin not only have 120 beehives producing their raw honey, but also 1000 maple trees that they tap for maple syrup. They actually create their own special maple honey blend along with a number of other specialty sauces and treats. Additionally Les and Heather use beeswax and honey to make unique skincare products such as soaps and lip balms. Learn more about their products, including their buckwheat and wildflower honeys on their website: Martin's Sweet Farm.
You can find Martin’s Sweet Farm in Halton at the Oakville Civitan Farmers’ Market on Saturdays (8:00am-2:00pm, May-November), or at the Burlington Mall Farmers’ Market on Fridays (8:00am-4:00pm, May-October).
By Michelle Malandra