Have you ever thought about beekeeping but been too intimidated by the amount of work? Let Bees Please Farms take care of that for you!
Meet Kate Fraser, founder of the Victoria-based business, Bees Please Farms—the company renting out beehives and chickens!
When Fraser and her husband bought their first home they immediately decided to put in gardens. Fraser was inspired to teach her son where food came from, how it could be grown, and to encourage him to enjoy fresh and organic products. After the garden came chickens, and then came bee hives.
“I knew immediately that I was in to beekeeping for life,” says Fraser. “I love being around them, and I wanted desperately to do something to help them. Bees are up against the odds right now,” she adds.
Bee populations are diminishing all over the world. In British Columbia alone the mortality rate is 30 to 50 percent. “Imagine losing 50 percent of your livestock every year?” says Fraser. “That is a hard hit on anybody.”
“Varroa mites are the biggest problem that bees face, but there are numerous other things wiping them out like wasps, viruses, wetness in the hives in the winter (lack of ventilation), starvation (lack of proper forage), and pesticides,” Fraser tells me. “It’s the combination of these that is what is causing the huge losses of bees each year.” Fraser and Bees Please Farms are striving to fight this and create healthy bee populations. “People aren’t sure what they can do to make a difference,” she says.
Bees Please Farms became incorporated in 2015 and began their first season in 2016.
“When people rent bees off me, they are helping directly support our bee population,” says Fraser. “This is the driving factor in the contracts that I set up.”
Hive rentals from Bees Please run from May-May. Fraser will look up the bylaw for your specific municipality to find out if your property is eligible for bee hives. “My hives are on all sorts of properties from acreages to small urban lots,” she says. She offers a variety of packages. The introductory package includes two hives and 10lbs of honey. You can even have your own customized labels when your jars are delivered. Fraser will do all the beekeeping and will visit the hives biweekly. All that the renters have to do is leave out a source of water for the bees.
This year Fraser rented out 40 hives. She expects to rent between 50 and 80 next year. And she hopes to expand beyond that in the future. Though she is currently doing everything herself, she would “never want to have to turn anyone away who would like to help the bees.” She adds, “I have a couple of knowledgeable beekeepers who I might hire in the future if needed.”
Fraser is also the Victoria representative for the company, Rent the Chicken. Last year she rented 18 coops and about 56 chickens. You can even adopt the chickens later if you want!
What’s next for Bees Please Farms? Fraser distributed information at her oldest child’s elementary school and has participated at a fair at another. She’s done educational farm tours where she showed kids the hives, taught them about the life cycle of bees, and let them pet chickens and help collect their eggs. She plans to have more tours int he future. She is currently busy preparing her hives and coops for next year.