Gavin North & Bay Woodyard

Gavin North & Bay Woodyard - Honeypie Hives and HerbalsGavin North’s first exposure to bee keeping was during his first date with new girlfriend, Bay. Bay introduced Gavin to an apprenticeship program and fifteen years later – and celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary - things are still buzzing. Bay had been introduced to beekeeping through a Girl Guide program in PEI where she grew up. Her Guiding sash hangs in the retail store proudly displaying her apiary badge.

Bay, Gavin and their two children call Milford, Prince Edward County in eastern Ontario their home. They are situated on sixtythree acres where they keep just over 100 hives. “The County” provides a unique microclimate with a long growing season. Their property has several hay fields and bush. “Officially, there are no bears on the island which is fortunate; however there was a sighting of one bear with her cub a couple of years ago. We are fortunate that we do not need to deal with bear issues very often.”

Bay spends her time “wild-crafting” and growing herbs, fruit, vegetables and botanicals that are incorporated into their unique custom line of soaps, creams, lip balms, seasoning mixes, teas and candles. They have recently expanded into producing mead and are excited to launch their product this year. Bay is a talented artist, designer and photographer. Honeypie Hives & Herbals’ products carry her unique customized design that reflects the creative crafted manner in which it is made. She has been Gavin’s most influential mentor. In his fifteen years of experience, Gavin reflects that he “seeks any opportunity possible” to learn.

Gavin has taken all three OBA Technology Transfer Program workshops enjoying the Introduction to Beekeeping, benefitting from the Integrated Pest Management course and has recently shown interest in attempting to graft queen cells by taking the Queen Rearing workshop. Gavin has an extensive beekeeping library and last winter traveled to British Columbia to take the Beemasters of BC course. Networking through his local association, Quinte Beekeepers’ Association, provides ongoing support and insight. The group’s ‘joy in sharing knowledge’ encourages Gavin to stay engaged. Gavin also offers workshops at his own apiary throughout the bee season and has been inspirational to many new beekeepers in the region. Gavin says that his favorite tools are his standard hive tool and veil. Gavin sustained a bee sting in the eye that lead to several visits to the doctor and then a specialist. It turned out the barb from the stinger had worked its’ way through the lid and was scratching the inside of his eye. “When I tell this story to new beekeepers it makes them a little apprehensive, but the doctor was excited to find it.”

Gavin defines overwintering as his greatest challenge, and it was particularly disheartening to sustain a 60% loss this year. “My years of experience make me wonder if pesticide poisoning has something to do with that,” said Gavin. “My peers are the vegetable farmers and livestock farmers of the community. We are all experiencing a shift in thinking and working together to keep the communication flowing between us.” Prince Edward County has recently passed a ban on neonicotinoids being used on County property and is submitting a formal request for the Provincial and Federal governments to follow suit. “My hope is we can all work together with growers, consumers and government and become more sustainable to the earth and humankind.”

Bay and Gavin celebrate their entrepreneurial spirits. “I love the independence. Enjoying a spring evening as I walk in the bee yard and smell honey and brood from a healthy hive is my best reward,” said Gavin. “Jumping in the lake to cool off is great too!”