A Taste of Lake Superior
The flavor and color of honey changes based on the time of year and location of the apiary. Like a fine wine or great cheese, honey has a terroir, or taste of place. We establish our apiaries with the health and happiness of the bees in mind by locating them in areas where they can freely forage on abundant nectar sources. The locations can be as simple as a working rural farm or as complex as an urban downtown rooftop. The one thing all of our locations share is their proximity to Lake Superior. Lake Superior gives life to our region and creates a unique microclimate that the bees thrive upon. The result is some of the best honey available anywhere.
How will you use the funds?
Our project funds will be used to set up new apiary locations in and around Duluth, Minnesota. These new apiaries will allow us to showcase additional neighborhoods and offer a larger flavor profile of our region to our supporters and customers. We take great care and a labor intensive hands on approach to ensure the health of our bees. We never rush them and only harvest honey when the bees tell us it's ready. We extract each location separately and never mix our honey together. We never add anything and never heat or filter our honey. What you taste is real, raw, honey from the hive to you. Each batch of honey produced is very limited in quantity and cannot be duplicated. Some of our smaller locations may only produce a few jars of honey in an entire season!
What is an apiary and how do you establish one?
An apiary is a group of hives in a single location. We maintain apiaries with as few as one hive and as many as ten. Each apiary is chosen based on the proximity to Lake Superior, as well as the amount of protection offered from our harsh Minnesota winters. In addition to protection from the weather, we must protect our bees from black bears and skunks which love to snack on the bees and the good stuff inside. We protect from these predators by using solar powered electric fencers. These units produce a large but harmless shock that deters the animals from damaging the equipment. Another technique we may use for protection is locating hives above ground, usually on a rooftop.
After choosing a location and setting up a fence, we assemble and paint the boxes and frames that will physically house the bees. At Lake Superior Honey Company we like to start our bees with new, clean, well-built equipment to minimize the risk of contamination from disease and chemicals. The bees are soon installed in the hives and are fed until the spring nectar flow begins.
Risks and challenges
Our project is based on nature. The weather in our region can be very difficult. One day it can be 75 degrees and sunny and the next it can be 28 degrees and snowing...in June! Lake Superior gives life to our region but can also be cruel. Bees may winter over really well in protected areas of the city but may be less successful in others. This wintering success can jumpstart our season and get us started early or we can loose bees and have to start nearly from scratch. it's not uncommon to have a hive survive all winter only to have it die out in early spring due to cold, wet, weather. We are prepared to meet these challenges by proper planning and by our labor intensive hands-on approach to beekeeping. We visit each apiary on a regular basis and check on each hive. This attention to all our bees and sites allows us to identify and deal with any problems early to avoid larger problems down the road.
Bee health is another challenge that can dramatically alter a beekeepers season. Our approach to bee health is two fold. First, once our bees are established in an apiary site that is their home. We never move our bees to pollinate crops or to take advantage of a particular nectar flow. Every time a hive is moved a colony may suffer a 10% loss due to stress. By keeping our bees in one place and allowing them to freely forage upon the sources within their neighborhood, our bees stay happier and healthier. Secondly, we never treat our bees with chemicals, pesticides, or medications. By treating our bees naturally we encourage healthy, strong, genetics in each successive generation. These healthy bees keep their neighborhoods looking beautiful while working hard to make some of the best honey available.
With beekeeping you can do everything right and still not have the success you planned on. Bees are facing epic challenges globally and are dieing or disappearing in record numbers. The cause of this mass disappearance has been called colony collapse disorder. While the causes are still relatively unknown, some evidence shows systemic pesticide use and parasitic mites as two of the top suspects. Our location on the shores of Lake Superior coupled with our natural methods of beekeeping and our hands on approach gives us a unique advantage in addressing these concerns.
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- (30 days)