Bill Lake

Bill Lake beekeeperBill Lake’s interest in honey bees peaked in 1986 when he offered to help a friend extract honey. His friend, Harold McFarland, had always kept bees and encouraged Bill to join the Limestone Beekeepers’ Guild as his interest increased and the learning curve began. “I started with two nucs and then acquired an existing hive, keeping them on my own one-acre property and at my father’s family farm up the road,” remembers Bill. Harold became his mentor and contributed to the success of Bill becoming an accomplished beekeeper. Today, Bill has 42 hives and five bee yards located in the region of Battersea. “Paying it forward” to provide mentoring and volunteerism, Bill became President of the Limestone Beekeepers’ Guild in 1998. He’s been re-elected every year since then, and in his 16 years as president he’s only missed two meetings. His commitment is awesome.

“I like working outdoors enjoying the quiet solitude of the bee yard. Watching the hard work of the bees, the quality of their productivity and the commitment to surviving inspires me,” Bill says, as he reflects on his own work ethic. “I am an early riser, enjoy being organized in what I want to accomplish for the day. Each day, sunrise brings new opportunities.” Bill has a full-time job working shift work as a stationary engineer. He has also recently retired after 22 years as a volunteer firefighter. He and his wife enjoy an interest in the perennial gardens on their property. Family is important to Bill and, fortunately, most are located in the area. “There is always something going on,” indicates Bill with enthusiasm.

Keeping bees has its challenges, though. “I can tolerate the sting but always wear a veil. I am a meticulous record keeper and find that so important to managing my bees. I listen to information being provided and apply what works,” he says. Bill has time to visit the bee yards once a week and observe what is happening. “I treat when indicated and manage according to recommendations from OBA Tech-Transfer Program (TTP). I use the three manuals TTP have produced and have attended many OBA meetings gathering as much relevant information as possible.”

Bill has taken several courses and workshops over the years including the TTP Introductory Queen Rearing workshop. Part of his volunteerism with the Limestone Beekeepers’ Guild is to mentor other new beekeepers. “Their questions validate my ability to stay current and provide them with the correct information,” says Bill.

The Limestone Beekeepers’ Guild has a very active membership with 50-60 people at every meeting. “We moved to a larger location to hold the meetings to accommodate everyone. We noticed a demographic shift related to membership with many younger women now becoming involved. Everyone is welcome and we try to get to know them all and foster their learning,” he says. This has been a record year for honey production for Bill. Selling his honey from the “home-gate” allows him to build and supply a loyal customer base.

“This has been the second best year for honey flow since I started keeping bees. My best hive produced 250 lb. of honey! This was despite the excessive swarming we had this year, which was hard to explain and frustrating.”

“I feel confident that the apiary industry will survive through all the current challenges. I think Ontario is in good hands with the OBA, and I especially appreciate the OBA’s Tech-Transfer Program and the value its education and research brings to beekeepers.”