2020 is coming to a close and thank goodness. It has been a year to remember. We thought we would share a bit about the year here at Fredrich’s Honey Farm as we wind things down for the season.
We opened for the season back in March with a bit of trepidation as COVID-19 was quickly becoming something that was going to turn our lives upside down. And sure enough we closed our shop here at the farm on March 13th, uncertain as to what the future season would hold.
We quickly pivoted and set up a table full of honey products outside the shop and online orders picked way up. Will, a VIU MBA student who had been working with us, helped set our new website in motion in the nick of time. Our wholesale business also kept us hopping as people purchased groceries in bigger quantities as people began sticking close to home.
We were also able to put in a new parking lot which was easier with the shop being closed.
Luckily the COVID-19 numbers stayed low on Vancouver Island and we were able to re-open our shop in June.
The bee season began in early March as we assessed our overwintering success. It was an average winter and some colonies came out of winter looking healthy and strong. Our bee packages arrived in early March – which was earlier than usual and turned out to be very lucky for us as the airlines ground to a halt due to COVID 19 and many beekeepers were unable to get New Zealand Imports.
Weather was unseasonably warm very early in the spring and the bees brought in a lot of maple honey which was great for their build up. We let them keep the honey to build up their colony strength and this turned out to be good as the weather did not line up for the blackberry nectar to flow.
Bees did well in blueberry & cranberry pollination, and we moved the bees into high mountain yards in July. We purchased a mini off-road forklift from the Dutch greenhouse industry and it proved to be a real back-saver.
The fireweed & pollen production was excellent in quality but lower than average volumes. One of our mountain bee yards on Green Mountain in the Nanaimo Lakes region was close to the scene of a forest fire. Crews were able to extinguish the blaze and it did not appear to harm the bees. We moved the bees back down to their overwintering yards and they are now hopefully cozy and wintering well.
We have had to make adjustments to how we do business in the shop due to COVID-19. Social distancing and limits to capacity, masking and patience are required! We have continued with our outdoor honey table and built a new structure to keep things (mostly) dry.
We had a new person join us to assist in soap making as the soap has been a great seller this year. Jalene is an experienced soap maker and it has been great having help leading up to our busy holiday season.
We participated in the annual Cedar Yellow Point Artisan Country Christmas Tour. It was very different this year due to COVID-19. This year the tour was 10 days long stretched out over the course of two weeks instead of the usual 4-day blitz. This helped maintain social distancing in the tour participants’ small studios and shops. And it was very successful. People enjoyed having more space and time to do their holiday shopping.
We are winding things down here on Christmas Eve and we will re-open the shop on January 13th to do it all over again.
As always, we are so thankful for the support of the community and we certainly felt it this year. Wishing you all good health and a peaceful holiday season.