Beekeepers make hive of their own


Honey bees are quite busy, and so are their beekeepers who help keep conditions just right for the hives to thrive. A group of residents has created a hive of their own called the Point Roberts Beekeeper Association (PRBKA).

The group has monthly meetings in the Point Roberts Community Center that can be very lively with show-and-tells, guest speakers and discussions about best bee practices.

Linda Marie Bruce is the woman who made it all happen 16 years ago in 2008 after she moved to the Point. As an avid bee lover and keeper herself, she was surprised there wasn’t a beekeeping association and issued an invitation to the community to start a group.

Bruce had fallen in love with bees at a young age and has had her own for roughly 22 years. Before coming to the Point, she was the president of an Orange County beekeeping association. “Bees are critical to mankind. There must be beekeepers, period,” Bruce said. “Even before you become a beekeeper; you realize how marvelous they are. But when you get your own, you will absolutely fall in love with your honeybees.”

Tim Trudel also became fascinated with beekeeping and attended meetings as he got started. He accidentally took up the hobby roughly nine years ago when some friends needed to relocate their bees to his property.

He got up to 15 hives one year, which required about 30 hours of work a week. That year he harvested 900 pounds of honey. He sells the honey under the Raven Tree Cottage label and gifts jars to others.

“Beekeepers like to talk about bees, so getting two or three in a room, they will talk about bees for hours,” Trudel said. “The club is a chance to meet other beekeepers and we are always trying to help each other out.”

“I didn’t really know what I was doing, but fortunately we have some amazing mentors here,” April Svejkovsky said. “I love the fact that everyone is there to offer advice and give support. I don’t think there’s any way I could’ve been a beekeeper without that support when I started.”

Svejkovsky attended every meeting when she started roughly nine years ago after receiving a gift jar of honey that inspired her to dive into the hobby. She now has four hives she manages with a friend, and she encourages beginners to research, read and follow mentors and their operations.

The beekeeper association is also an international club opportunity for Canadian and American members. For example, Janet Wilson is a master beekeeper who works with Trudel and attends the PRBKA meetings. She lives in Tsawwassen but crosses the border to share her expertise. Having the local group creates communication over the border because bees are illegal to transport across the line. Point residents must get bees through the mail if they don’t have local beekeeping friends. Wilson has been beekeeping for 17 years, beginning as a hobby that turned into a career – she now manages a community apiary in Vancouver. During her apiculture studies, a teacher sent her to help Trudel get through the new beekeeper struggles and she kept with the club to provide information to all the members.

“I really liked beekeeping and worked hard to learn and improve my skill set,” Wilson said. “I liked the collegiality [of the club], and the space to help new beekeepers learn good technique.”

Beekeepers often have different procedures when it comes to equipment, chemical usage, and techniques and the club offers members the ability to consider different approaches. David Weldon has been keeping bees on the Point for over 10 years, and says people should know that the PRBKA is a good social environment with friendly people.

“I would like to see more people experience [the club] because it’s nice to sit down with other beekeepers to talk and learn from each other,” Weldon said.

He loves experimenting with beekeeping techniques and equipment, and wishes people had a better understanding of bees as they are incredibly complex and not usually aggressive. Honeybees only sting to defend either their life or the colony because they die when they lose their stinger, whereas wasps sting repeatedly because it is a weapon they use to hunt for protein.

Not only do honeybees create honey and beeswax, they are prolific pollinators of fruit trees, gardens, blackberries and more. However, Point Roberts is a complicated place for bees. It does have a plentiful amount of untouched forest acreage with lots of wildflowers for them to thrive and pollinate, and they contract less diseases than commercial bee hives. But the flowering season here ends in July which is shorter than in the southern United States. This means the honeybees have less time to prepare food for cold winters.

“People don’t fully appreciate the bees and their importance to agriculture,” Stephen Falk, a former beekeeper and member of the PRBKA said. “Pollination is key to everything.”

Even before his beekeeping career, Falk understood their importance especially with having 70 apple trees of his own that benefit from their pollination.

For those interested in attending meetings or joining, reach out to Linda Marie Bruce via email at thelittlegoldenharp@


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