Hello to all our bee lovers,
My name is Annanie and my husband, Matt, and I own a small apiary in Alberta, Canada. We have a wonderful little business - Forever Bee - that we have been running for 9 years and we employ 5 amazing staff members that are more like family than employees.
Many of our beehives are placed in organic farms where they help to pollinate crops. We do not charge farmers for the use of our bees (as many other beekeepers do). Instead, we offer our bees to the farmers for free. This helps to support a natural food supply, while saving the farmers the substantial cost of renting bees. The bees benefit from being part of a healthy ecosystem, and our customers receive the best quality honey. We believe in infusing every step of the process with love, ensuring we have hearty bees, healthy plants, wholesome honey and happy customers.
FIRST BEAR ATTACK
In October, just before we wrapped up our beehives for the winter, we had a couple of brown bears go through one of our beehive fields, where we arrived to face a scene of awful devastation. The bears had destroyed several of the hives. The hive boxes were smashed, full frames of honey were lying broken all over the field and our remaining bees were left homeless. Immediately we started picking up bees out of the snow, in the middle of the night, and trying to put them back into the hives. Most hives were completely broken up so we had to improvise where we could. As we were picking the bees out of the snow we were trying to warm them up in our hands as we put them back. It was heartbreaking to experience.
THE SECOND BEAR ATTACK
With heavy hearts we left the field that night wondering what to do about all this loss and destruction. The next day we received yet another call that the bears had returned and destroyed even more of the hives. Needless to say, this was a heavy blow. Our hives have been in those fields for many years and we had never faced that kind of problem before. We needed some expert advice. One of our customers, it turned out, is a bear expert and she specializes in promoting harmonious living between humans and bears. We care about all of nature and wished no harm to come to the bears. After much discussion we decided to put up an electric fence, which is known to deter but not harm the bears. This was costly, but thankfully our strategy was successful--we managed to prevent any further bear incursions over the winter!
EXTREMELY COLD WINTER
Once spring arrived and the snow had melted, we went back to visit our hives only to discover that none of those that were attacked made it through the winter. Most of the bees in the destroyed hives were either eaten or did not survive in sufficient numbers to keep the hive temperatures warm enough to successfully overwinter. We always leave our bees with all the honey they collect in their brood boxes so they have plenty of food to last until spring. This year the bears helped themselves to the bees' provisions, and then the bees faced an excessively long, cold winter. Unfortunately this led to even more losses than usual.
WHY WE NEED HELP THIS YEAR
In any normal year such losses would have been a big challenge, but we would have been better able to recover with the proceeds from seasonal markets. Attending additional farmers' markets, craft fairs and special events would have been enough to help us rebuild. This year, essentially all of our markets have been cancelled or restricted to the degree that we don't have the same opportunity to just work harder to make up the difference.
We need to rebuild our hives and repurchase the bees that we have lost over the winter. Our beekeeping season is starting now and we need your help in order to rebuild our colonies and continue to serve our community. If there is anything you can do to help, we would humbly and gratefully appreciate it!
We are hoping to replace 27 hives lost, each costing $1000 including bees, the wood and labour to build and assemble hive boxes, frames, foundations, bases, lids, starter honey, starter pollen, and natural nutritional supplements. We are hoping that some kind souls may be in a position to assist us with our rebuilding challenge!Thank you to everyone who is able to give something. All donations will be so much appreciated.