The Backyard Diary

How Our Honey Is Harvested

Saturday Aug 20, 2022

Our 2022 honey harvest is finished! We collected the frames of honey, uncapped them with our hot knife and put them in the spinner. From there, they go into the settling tank so the beeswax can float to the top and we can pour out that beautiful golden, raw honey.

Check out a video from our Instagram showing the entire process from uncapping to selling at the farmgate across the street!




Doing A Hive Inspection/ Harvesting Any Last Honey Of 2022

Wednesday August 3, 2022

If you are following our Instagram, you'll know that we like to do live videos (Live From The Hive) once in a while. We did one today to check out a hive which we discovered, last week, had eggs in the honey super.

What that meant, is that the Queen bee got past the Queen excluder (meant to keep her out of the super where it is supposed to be honey only). Up there, she laid eggs, so we were not able to collect the honey from there (or see her either?) So we left it for a few weeks, hoping the eggs would hatch and she was no longer there.

Well, today, we found more eggs, and then found her! She was a new Queen bee. You can watch this all happen in our live which I think I can paste below in this diary (be sure to watch!) We also saw new baby bees emerging, found some drones and tasted honey from the frame.

Watch below, and follow us on Instagram for more interesting things in the backyard!




Summerland Middle School Learns About Local Honey Bees

Friday June 10, 2022

The grade 6 class came from Summerland Middle School to learn about beekeeping. These students were so excited to get into the hive! The weather was cloudy but perfect. We were worried it would rain and we wouldn't be able to open the hive, so we brought them to our own little observation hive (where we just had some plexiglass on the top).

Students placed their hands on it to feel the warmth coming from the hive as well as the buzz.

DIY Observation Hive

Honey Bee School Okanagan

It was a great day to open the hive and get a good look inside. Bees were happy and calm and the students couldn't believe what the frames looked like up close!

Looking at honey bee frames

We were even lucky enough to see many drones! Drones are the only male bees in the hive, and it can be rare to see them depending on the time of the year. What is interesting about drones is that they have no stingers.

We found a drone bee with damaged wings, so the students were so eager to gently let it walk on their hands. What an amazing way for the kids to get up close with these beautiful little creatures!

Drone bee

Learning about honeybees british columbia

 Thanks Summerland Middle School!!


The Beavers Come From Scouts Canada For A Bee Lesson

Monday June 6, 2022

It was really exciting to have our local Summerland Beavers come to The Farmers Cupboard for a bee keeping lesson! These kids wanted to get right up, front and center and get a good look into what happens in a bee hive. I'm pretty sure their favorite part was tasting the honey right from the frame, that seems to be pretty popular.

How To keep bees

Their lesson consisted of learning about what a bees job is depending on what kind of bee it is, and what goes into making honey. It was a bit cold and windy, but that didn't seem to bother them at all. I think we have some future bee keepers in this group!

Scouts Canada Field Trip

Bee Keeping Okanagan


Collecting Local Bee Swarms

Friday June 3, 2022

When the weather starts to get really warm, there is one thing that all beekeepers know: it's swarming season.

This is the time that many new bees are hatching, and when a hive gets very full, the Queen may choose to leave with her colony to find a new hive. She flies out, the bees follow her, and she may find a tree, a branch, a chimney or somewhere else to rest, and that is when the bees all collect around her. This is a bee swarm.

We had a few messages this week about local bee swarms around town. One was in a lilac tree and another was on someone's chimney. We went to both calls.

Luckily, we were able to successfully capture the lilac tree swarm! It was low to the ground on a small branch. It took a while as we wanted to make sure we collected the Queen, and it was successful. That colony now has a new home in one of our hives.

Bee swarm in summerland

The chimney was unfortunately much harder to collect. We tried over a few days with some rigging up of on-the-spot ideas for getting them out of the chimney and into the new box, but they didn't get in and left.

So right now, we have successfully collected 1 swarm in town and were able to give those bees a new home, which we are so happy about.

Be sure to follow The Farmers Cupboard on Facebook and tag us if you are local and see a bee swarm anywhere!


Where To Buy Real Beeswax

Thursday May 19, 2022

During the Unisus field trip last week, we were looking at a bar of melted beeswax we had collected from our hive. Toni asked if we were selling beeswax but unfortunately we are not at this time.

That got me thinking, is it easy to purchase real beeswax online? After some extensive research, it seems that there is a lot of fake beeswax, mixed wax products claiming to be beeswax and bleached beeswax being sold online. It is so important to support honey bee farmers and to get that real, pure wax for making candles, lotions, soap products and more.

So after all of this research and discovering how hard it is to find that real beeswax direct form farmers, I published an article titled Where To Buy Beeswax Direct from the Beekeepers.

Where to buy real beeswax from (direct from bee keepers online)

Please feel free to share the article to raise awareness that there is so much fake beeswax being sold out there and that by purchasing directly from smaller bee farmers online, you are not only supporting them and their efforts but you are getting pure, real beeswax for your homemade beeswax wraps and whatever else you use beeswax for.


Unisus School Visit

Friday May 13, 2022

We were so lucky to have the grade 2-3 class (Isla's class) at Unisus school come to our house for a field trip! This was to finish their ecosystems unit by exploring the role of bees.

Unisus field trip idea Summerland Okanagan

We had three learning stations set up:

Station 1: Honey tasting right from the frame

Honey tasting right from the frame 

Station 2: A look at one of our hives across the street at J & J Orchards (we took the top of the hive off and had a plexiglass lid so the students could see right inside (some of the kids and the fearless teachers even got up on one of the tree trimming turrets!)

Station 3: A Spanish lesson on the back deck with their Spanish teacher, as Unisus believes in inquiry-based learning, so the ecosystems unit was cross curricular. The Spanish lesson actually ended up happening in my living room as the wind picked up!

Everything began with the whole class out at the beehives getting a lesson on the different casts of bees (queen, workers and drones), their jobs, and how they make honey.

A lesson on honey bees and beekeeping

It was especially exciting for the class when Summerland Mayor, Toni Boot showed up to say hello and listen in on the beekeeping lesson!

Unisus field trip to The Farmers Cupboard with the Mayor

It was a really great day, we had an honorary station set up at our new baby chicks so the kids could play and watch them. And then another honorary station when they discovered we have a zip line! haha.

It was a well-enjoyed experience had by all. We were happy to be a part of the learning at Unisus, and Isla loved having her entire class over at her house!

The honey tasting


Isla's happy with the field trip to her house

Back to school Unisus field trip


A Surprising Discovery

Wednesday May 11, 2022

We woke up this morning like any other morning. Jeremy had gone to work, the kids were getting ready for school. Isla went outside to let the chickens out and came running back in absolutely squealing. "There are new chicks! There are 5 new chicks in the garden!"

Sure enough, there they were. 3 yellow, 2 black and a chipmunk looking little brown one. The kids were so excited! I asked them to try to find the nest that the hen was sitting on for the past 21 days, and we couldn't locate it anywhere. Not in the rhubarb, which is a favourite nesting area. Not in the barn, not in the raspberries or tall grasses by the bees. There wasn't a nest to be found.

New backyard chicks

We got the mommy hen and 5 chicks into the chick run, got them some water and put their chick vitamins into it and gave them their starter food. I guess we have 5 new chickens to welcome to the flock!

Chick feeder

Baby Chicks and Mom

We have Isla's class coming for a field trip on Friday, so they will love to see 2 day old chicks.

They are so cute!