Gees Bees Honey Co. - Marianne & Matt Gee
Your journey started because of bees living in the wall of your home. How many bees do you currently keep?
We currently have about 200 colonies!
What was your inspiration to start bee keeping?
After we discovered and rehomed the colony of honeybees that was living in our wall in 2009, we quickly fell in love with the hobby. Over the course of a few years, we kept meeting people who were interested in keeping bees and learning about beekeeping, which sparked the idea for Host a Hive, our beehive rental program.
How many times have you been stung since keeping bees? Does it still hurt?
We've been stung countless times...definitely have lost count. The initial sting still hurts for about a minute, but we are so used to it that there is no swelling afterwards
You have hives in other areas of the city as well as on your farm. Plus you help others keep bees, how does this work?
The majority of our beehives are in backyards and on rooftops across the city. We offer a full-service beehive rental program, where homeowners can rent a beehive, learn about beekeeping in their own backyard, while we handle all of the work of caring for the bees. This gives people the chance to try out the hobby. Our hives are located from Cumberland, to Kemptville, to Lanark, to West Carleton - every corner of the city.
You also offer a bee keeping course. How is education about bees important?
There is a lot to know when starting out in beekeeping - for example the lifecycle of the bees, the lifecycle of the colony, how to work with honeybees, how to keep them healthy, and how and when to harvest honey
How much honey do you produce in a year with your bees?
It depends on the season but around 15000 lbs. Last year we produced 12000 lbs but it was a cold wet summer. With this summer's weather so far, we are expecting more. A typical honeybee colony can produce between 60 to 100 lbs of honey
Do you eat honey with everything? Everyday?
We eat a lot of honey. We have it everyday in our morning coffee. It's also our son's favourite on toast. It has pretty much replaced sugar - we use it in baking and cooking. It is especially delicious drizzled on icecream
There is a wide variety of flavour to honey that many people don't realize. Honey tastes like the flowers that were used to make it, so it changes from summer to fall and across the Ottawa region. Summer wildflower honey is delicate and floral, fall wildflower honey is stronger, buckwheat honey is dark and bold, linden honey is fruity and bright, and loosetrife honey is very sweet with a slight green colour!
When you are not busy with the farm and bee keeping what do you do for fun?
Our job is pretty fun, and the bees occupy a lot of our time in the summer. In the evening, after long days working, its just nice to relax by the water. In the winter, we travel a little bit and really enjoy visiting farms in warm climates to see how they do things in other regions.
We talked a lot about music and concerts, how do you manage a farm and get to see the odd show?
Music is a big part of our life and we always make time for our life. We saw one of our favourites Xavier Rudd on Monday night and are looking forward to the Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews at Bluesfest
If there is one message you could get out there about bees what would it be?
Honeybees and other pollinators are so important to our food supply and the ecosystem. They pollinate about 1/3 of the food we eat! They are often misunderstood, because of their stingers, but they are for the most part gentle and amazing insects!
Are there any exciting plans for Gees Bees coming up in the summer of 2018?
After the honey harvest, we will be opening our local honey shop at our farm in Riverside South!
What’s all the buzz about? Just kidding!
Buzz off eh! ;) It's always buzzing with puns around here.