A Love Story
Guelph beekeepers, Shawn Caza and Melissa Berney, met via a shared passion for sustainability food.
Initially beekeeping was a ray of hope in a world seemingly on the brink of ecologic disaster. Part of our effort to eat with a minimal carbon footprint.
The more we got to know them, the more we were enamoured by the wisdom of the bees. We found we couldn't help but devote more time to deepening our relationship with them.
Ultimately, our goal is to help develop a model of sustainable small-scale beekeeping for the modern world.
A model that acknowledges the complex challenges facing the beekeeping industry and agriculture in general.
A wholistic approach that dares to asks not only what's best for the bees, but what's best for the biosphere.
We still have lots to figure out, but with a little luck, maybe we'll leave things a little nicer than we found them for the next generation.
Before they met, Melissa participated in an extensive research tour of eco-villages, then interned at Ignatius Farm in Guelph where she was introduced to beekeeping.
Shawn had been learning earth-based skills, fixing old bikes, and volunteering in community garden projects. We were both active members of a co-op food store.
We started learning with the Toronto Beekeepers' Collective, where we were exposed to a wide diversity of ways to think about bees.
We received a message that a swarm of bees hanging in someone's backyard was looking for a new home. We gave that colony a hive. It was a Warré hive, a different style then we had used before.
We started to obsess over ways to optimize for bee-friendly hive conditions while using eco-friendly solutions.
We established colonies in a quiet area at Fort York National Historic Site, near community gardens, in a spot that had been left for wild. We shared the space with ground hogs, coyotes, and rabbits among others.
We also had hives on the roof of Islington United Church, alongside solar panels, above their Giving Garden.
We work as advocates for the bees, sharing what we've learned about the challenges facing pollinators. We've spoken at summer camps, scout meetings, schools, community festivals.
The bees flourished. Over the years they produced thousands of pounds of surplus honey for our community.
A sizable portion of our harvest each year supported the Church's Mabelle Food Program and the Fort's Historic Kitchen.
We started offering a hands-on course for aspiring beekeepers looking to learn small-scale organic techniques.
We moved to Guelph! Our hives are currently on a small hobby farm near Guelph Lake.
They're surrounded by chickens, sheep, turkeys, horses, an old apple orchard, large gardens, fields of wildflowers and forest.
We are on the lookout for suitable urban beekeeping locations in Guelph.