We are pleased to see that Doug and Roberta Knight are continuing to help orchardists out in Creston Valley with pollination services even though Doug is longing for retirement from beekeeping. As the owners of Swan Valley Honey Ltd. – the direct line of succession of the Knight’s efforts – and which is wholly owned by our company, Honey Bee Zen Apiaries Ltd., we can assure orchardists that we will be able to pollinate a large portion of our clients’ orchards.
At this counting, we have more than 200 hives, including the portion we brought in this month from Australia at a considerable financial cost, all as a result of our commitment to the valley’s fruit growers. We have yet to determine the survival of the rest of our hives in Creston and may be able to add to the number. Last year we did over 300 sets of cherries and apples.
Our plan has been to refer all those we cannot satisfy to Doug for backfill for this year, even though we know he had planned to retire when he sold Swan Valley Honey in 2012 to the folks we bought it from in 2017. Our long-term plan continues to be to build up to around 600 to 800 hives, which will continue to satisfy much of the Creston Valley’s fruit growers and continue to expand the considerable footprint of Swan Valley Honey on store shelves throughout the Kootenays.
We strongly agree with Doug’s point about pesticides – which is what EVERY beekeeper wants orchardists and growers to understand. Pesticides are not good for bees. Why would you poison the very animal you are paying a beekeeper to deliver your fruit crop?
Last year we clearly indicated to our grower clients that we could not tolerate any spraying of our bees. We told them that if they needed to spray during the week in bloom, they needed to give us 24-48 hours’ notice to safely remove our bees. In some cases we found orchardists ignored these requirements. In one case when we went to retrieve our hives we drove into clouds of spray and were forced to retreat.
We do not know if that spraying contributed to our devastating losses, but it is fair to say that we won’t be placing hives in those orchards where our bees were sprayed.
Needless to say, we’re certainly NOT out of business, and we’re going to provide considerable pollination services to the orchardists. We do acknowledge Doug’s efforts to help out this year, and we certainly appreciate our name and product, Swan Valley Honey, which he once owned. Any of our clients can call us directly at Swan Valley Honey Ltd at 250-866-6861.
Jeff Lee and Amanda Goodman Lee | Swan Valley Honey Ltd. and Honey Bee Zen Apiaries Ltd.