B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Bees Please

Posted by Melanie Buffel on January 02, 2020

Young Agrarians is celebrating the sixth year of the Business Mentorship Network (BMN) Program. The BMN offers business mentorships  to a diverse array of new and young farmers across BC. Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, young farmers develops the skills necessary to operate ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses. We love to profile our program participants and celebrate their efforts!


Bees Please Farms is owned and operated by Kate Fraser. This year with the Young Agrarians mentorship program I teamed with Liam and Deb from Six Legs Good, and Seann Dory from Salt & Harrow.
What were your goals for this season and how did you work to achieve those?
Our goals were to increase my customer base and add some new honey extraction methods to the production line for the honey that goes back to my customers.  It went really well! I exceeded my goal for customers, and am carrying that forward to bigger and better goals for this coming season.
As always it was a tricky honey season, because the blooms are far and few between, and the summer season is just too dry for much nectar in the blooms.  I encourage people to plant big groups of flowers (bigger clumps are easier for the bees to spot), and to keep them watered. July and August in our region is now quite regularly becoming a drought time for the lower Island.
How did the mentorship impact your business?
This mentorship program helped me make some good new connections that I am now using for updating my website and working on my marketing. Also it encouraged me to strengthen my relationships that I already have in the honey and bee world. I have grown my network by attending more Conferences and courses and I love getting the opportunity to share tips, tricks, failures and stories with fellow bee lovers.
This past season saw the addition of many new commercial clients including Parkside Hotel, Royal Oak Burial Park, Baptist Housing, New Horizons Community Centre and my first year with a school!  Glenlyon Norfolk Private School started up a program and by the end of the season we had 25 kids coming and learning about bees every week. They asked great questions, got very involved, and loved their weekly lessons.  Two wonderful teachers made the program happen and generated all of the funding on their own!
Bees Please rent a hive service.
Bees Please rent a hive service.
What challenges did you have in your 2019 season? 
The worst part of the season was all of the deaths.  In lower BC the yellow jackets have become the biggest killers of honey bees.  Unfortunately we have no way to keep the wasps out, or help the bees beyond trapping them. New gadgets and different methods of changing the entrances come about each year, but for now it is all trial and error and there is no method that is working well enough to make a difference.  If the only thing you do to help support honey bees in your area is take down wasp nests and trap, that will be helpful!  Queen fly in early Spring, so as soon as it starts to warm up put some traps up and you can prevent many future nests.  As of December 50% of the cities honeybees have already died to wasps.  Those are staggering numbers.
These deaths put a definite strain on the business as the cost to replace bees soars every year.  However, this is a huge part of why I do what I do: I want a sustainable way to keep our bee population up in the city. I want people to be able to become active supporters of our local bees without having to learn how to become beekeepers themselves.
Every year new people book in for bees and every year they are awed by the power and organization of the bees. Watching bees work is very calming, informative, and mesmerizing.  These are the moments I cherish.

 

 

This program is made possible with the generous funding support of Vancity, Province of British Columbia, and Columbia Basin Trust.

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