Doug’s Honey (Inverhaugh, Ontario)
Minutes from the Elora Gorge Conservation Area, on one of the most pristine stretches of the Grand River, Doug Eiche has carefully nurtured a small grove of linden trees to feed the bees in one of his apiaries. He has spent the last 34 years in search of ways to gently influence the flavours of honey produced by his colonies.
Well, I’m a botanist. My family has an agricultural background – my mom grew up on a dairy farm. I’ve been using honey all my life. When I moved to Canada from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1981, I started thinking about keeping bees and started reading some books about it. I started with 2 colonies that first year and then the second year I bought 10 more and harvested 1000 pounds of honey that sold in 1 week! The rest as they say…[is history].
What is a typical day like for a beekeeper?
Everyday has something different to be done. In the spring, as the bees start waking up, it is all about preparing the hives. Sometimes it’s checking on and collecting honey combs, other days it’s extracting and bottling the honey. There are also the by-products like bees wax and propolis that can be purified to make cosmetics, candles and potential health products. The work is very cyclic in nature and I’ve tried to approach it in the same way I did my machining. Some things are very process-oriented and just need to get done and others need more creativity. My current focus is experimenting with the potential health benefits of bee products.
Why farmer’s markets?
I choose to offer my products at the farmer’s markets because the people that come there are like-minded. They are looking for organic, want to know where the produce comes from and they want to talk to the farmer to know what’s going on. I’m not interested in wholesale contracts that put pressure on me to deliver standardized honey. I prefer to work on influencing the flavours and trying different ways to enhance the quality and flavours I am able to offer my patrons.
Tell us about all the products you bring to market.
I keep honey from different apiaries separate. Each has a distinct flavour because of the location and the trees and plants around them. I make bee’s wax candles, lip balm, cream and boot balm from the wax that’s a by-product of honey extraction. I have also started to bring honey, cinnamon and propolis based health products to market. I believe that honey and its by-products have excellent health benefits so that’s my primary focus right now.
Advice for new beekeepers?
Go work for someone doing the job first. See first-hand what it takes to be a beekeeper. Bees are doing 90% of the job by producing 5 times more honey than they need so learn how to take care of them properly and acquire the knowledge you need before jumping into beekeeping.
Doug Eiche is a My Pick verified local farmer.
- The life span of a bee is 30 days
- Crystalized honey is not honey gone bad, it’s just changed form.
- To bring it back to its liquid form, gently warm it in a water bath.
- Honey degrades fastest in sunlight and humidity
- The oldest jar of honey is more than 3,000 years old!
- Creamed honey is honey that had been processed with a creamed honey culture to control crystallization.
- Read more about honey here
Ontario’s farmers play an important role in the fabric of our society. They contribute to Ontario’s economy, are good stewards of the land, and help to put fresh local food on our tables. These are some of their stories.