Thriving bees. Yes, in many backyards.

Times are tough for the honeybee. YIMBY Honey is harvesting the power of community by keeping happy bees in many urban back yards, safe from pesticides and monoculture that are harming rural bees. When I attend beekeepers association meetings, it’s clear that my bees are healthier and more productive than even those kept by seasoned rural beekeepers.

While commercial beekeepers put pesticides in the hive (either in the spring or fall, or both) to treat for mites, YIMBY hives are a labour of love. Although miticides are technically “organic”, they require intense safety equipment to handle. If it’s not safe for me, I don’t give it to my bees—I don’t put anything in my hives that I wouldn’t put on my plate. I also don’t put prophylactic antibiotics in my hive, as is standard practice in commercial beekeeping. And I don’t take more honey than my bees can spare—they need to eat honey, not sugar water!

As for the honey itself, it is bottled without any heat. This takes more time, but it also preserves the enzymes and antioxidants that make honey beneficial to health—which are destroyed by heat and pasteurization of commercial extraction processes. The honey is a blend of the wonderful flowers from my neighbours’ gardens, so the flavour is strong and will vary throughout the year as different flowers bloom. The first few litres tasted a lot like dandelion jelly the next had a strong lavender flavour. I’ve had anything from subtle brandy and vanilla flavours to a lychee undertone, to the punch-you-in-the-face floral flavour of goldenrod.

They’re bottled in re-usable mason jars, and topped with hand-made paper impregnated with bee-friendly wild-flower seeds so you can give a little back to the bees. 

Scientists discover why raw honey is so effective at treating infections

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/dec/23/why-raw-honey-is-good-for-you

 

To Purchase Honey

Because my beekeeping and honey extraction practices are labour intensive, I have a waiting list for purchasing my honey, and am currently limiting quantities to 500ml/person, though you can request more and I’ll add additional quantities to the bottom of the list. Pick-up is in downtown Kitchener. To be added to the list, please use the contact form below. When your honey is ready, I will reach you by phone. A 1/2 litre mason jar is $15. Returning customers may trade in their mason jar for a $1 discount off their next honey purchase.


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Frequently asked Questions

What makes YIMBY Honey different?

Honey heated above 47.8° is destroyed, and your honey bear probably contains a bland blend of pasteurized honey from China, India, Argentina, etc, even if it contains a “Canada #1” label. Even local honeys are most often factory farmed in huge quantities and often pasteurized.

YIMBY honey is harvested in small batches without any heat at all. Raw honey’s vitamins, enzymes, and nutrients remain intact, and the flavour is superior. The honey is strained, not filtered, so trace quantities of bee pollen remain in the honey.

Because it’s harvested in small batches, the amazing variety of flavours throughout the season from different hive locations can be tasted. Everything from warm hints of vanilla and brandy in early season honey to fruity hints of raspberry, herbal tastes of lavender, anise, and mint, spicy thistle, floral goldenrod. It’s amazing how much flower sources influence both the flavour and texture of the honey.

What make YIMBY bees different?

It’s not just about the location, it’s about a holistic philosophy of beekeeping that respects the beehive as a living organism and ecosystem, while taking the responsibilities of the beekeeper seriously.

  • YIMBY bees are not treated with poisons or antibiotics. Standard practice in the commercial beekeeping industry is to treat with antibiotics every spring (prophylacticly, just like factory-farmed meat), and with pesticides in spring and/or fall to treat mites. With fewer hives, we have the time to carefully and constantly monitor the bees for brood diseases and mite levels and intervene non-chemically. YIMBY bees are bread for hygienic behaviour, which means that they are better able to thrive.
  • Commercial beekeepers take all the honey off the hive and feed the bees back sugar water or corn syrup so they have enough to make it through the winter and build up in the spring. YIMBY bees eat honey. They made it, they prefer it, and they deserve it! And eating honey is better for their immune systems than sugar. To make sure they have a good diet for the winter, we store honey throughout the summer so that they have honey from the whole season to eat through the winter, just like the bees intended when they stored it.
  • YIMBY bees are safe from monoculture and pesticides that are the product of industrialized agriculture.
  • Because it’s impossible to make a profit from selling honey, most commercial beekeepers make their living through pollination services. This means packing up the hives on the back of a truck and shipping them around the country to commercial agriculture plots where they primarily feed on a single food source until they are packed up and shipped to their next job. Migratory bees live shorter lives. YIMBY hives stay put and the bees forage on whatever they choose from the incredible variety of flowers that the city has to offer.

What does the number on my honey jar stand for? 

YIMBY Honey is harvested in small batches of 4-10 frames of honey. Each batch is kept separate so that the individual flavours of the harvest can be tasted. The code can tell you which hive the honey came from and when it was harvested. For example, J2 was the second harvest of the season from the “J” hive near the spur line trail. Some batches have a milder flavour while some are stronger. Flavours can be confectionary/fruity/herbal/spicy/floral or a combination thereof. If you’re placing an order for more honey, let us know what kind you tried and if you’d like one with similar flavours or want to try something completely different so we can recommend a honey you’ll fall in love with.

Will my honey crystallize? How do I deal with crystallized honey?

The rate at which they honey will crystallize depends entirely on the nectar sources that the bees have chosen. While a honey with a lot of goldenrod will crystallize in a matter of weeks, I’ve seen a jar over two years old that didn’t even begin to crystallize. If your honey crystallizes, it will still continue to me safe to eat until long after we’re all dead, and is amazing to spread on toast. If you’d like to re-liquify it, the easiest method is to put the sealed jar in hot water (50 degrees or less if you want to keep it raw) or in your car on a sunny day.

Do bees hibernate in winter? 

Nope. They cluster in the hives, and eat the food they’ve stored through the summer (that’s why they make honey and bee bread, which is lacto-fermented pollen mixed with honey and bee secretions). The bees in the cluster vibrate to stay warm and the outside bees rotate into the centre of the cluster to warm up, like penguins. The cluster keeps the brood as warm in the winter as in the summer. When we get a warm day, they’ll break cluster to go outside for a cleansing flight (they don’t poop inside the hive) and to carry out dead bees because bees are serious housekeepers.

Are you looking for yards to host bees?

If you’re interested in hosting a hive in your yard, use the contact form on the home page to let us know your address and whether your neighbours are as excited about bees as you are. We’ll have a look if the location is suitable for bees and start a conversation about what will work best for everyone—we never know when we’ll catch a swarm or one of our hives will get big enough to need to be split into two.

Can I come see your bees?

Sure. Use the contact form or Twitter to tell us you’d like to! Because YIMBY hives are spread throughout the city, and the job depends so much on the weather and the needs of the bees, hive visits are likely to occur on short notice, but we’re excited to share just how cool honey bees can be to watch. Note: visitors should not wear black or furry clothing. Bees have been bred for centuries to be gentle and docile, but people who dress like bears stress them out.