Let's start from the very beginning.
I am Katie. I'm married to a man named Will Merchant. Seems fitting that we sell something, right?With the last name Merchant.... get it? We are a family of four humans, two dogs, a snake, a few fish, a couple of frogs and about 2,000,000 honey bees. We have a house full of love, food and chaos.... and we love it!
Our beekeeping journey started about 5 years ago when the kids and I were eating lunch on our back deck. Charlie, our youngest son, went pale and silent tears started running down his sweet little face. Of course we comforted him and asked what was wrong. He was panicking because he thought there was a wasp on the table! It was a fly but, nonetheless he was truly afraid. That was a real fear for him. As a parent, I decided that day that we are going to work together and teach him there is nothing to be afraid of.... they're just bugs. So, we decided to get honey bees. I took a course through ABC bees, and ordered our first little bee hive. That year we started with 2 hives (that's 20,000 bees on day 1!)
My babes on the first day, not really having it
I fell in looooooove. Beekeeping was my jam. It's calming, quiets my mind and warms my soul. I couldn't get enough. I wanted to hug my hives every morning and talk about bees all day long. I, of course, wrangled my husband into doing a lot of the heavy lifting.... and what happened?? He also loved it. We were both all in for this new hobby. It was great. I truly wrangled in my entire family.
This is my mom and I on day one
Everyone saw the true love I had for beekeeping, so Will and my family gave me a gift that would change my life. Ten hives, ten colonies and everything I needed to take care of them. It was a life changing day.
Now the real work began. I needed to find somewhere for these ten hives to live because they cannot live at my suburban house in Calgary. We asked around and found a perfect place. Someone who worked for my mom at the time, her dads girlfriends parents had land in Millarville (one of those stories where someone knows someone who knows someone) and they were willing to have our hives on their property.... and the best part is that we get to pay them in honey. It was a dream come true. They are also the NICEST people and love our kids, so we're really winning there.
We now had 12 hives and with that come up to about 1200 lbs of honey. So we started gifting it to everyone and still had TONS left over. We made a post on our neighbourhood Facebook page and got a few bites. We were in business!
That year we sold out! We had a real thing on our hands. We decided to double our hives and make even more so we could sell even more. We ended up that summer with 22 hives and about 1700 lbs of honey and we couldn't keep it in stock. Lucky us!
Will holding a frame full of honey
I then got a Facebook message from a lady named Deb (Hi Deb!). She asked me if I could make her lemon flavoured honey. She said it was because she didn't like the taste of regular honey but she really like the benefits. The experimenting began. I tried about ten different recipes and it came out ok. She liked it, so I made more and worked on perfecting it. I'm now at recipe 18ish and it is out of this world! The flavour ideas kept coming. I thought we'd try a spicy honey (because I love it on pizza) and cinnamon honey for toast. They were also delicious. We got a request for lavender and made that. We had a start to a real flavour line up on our hands. We now have 11 solid flavours and keep coming out with seasonal ones. That spring I decided I wanted to try and sell 10000 jars of honey. I didn't know how I was going to do it but I was sure going to try.
I decided to start applying for markets because we had over 1000lbs of honey to sell and why not get it out there. We found ourselves a cool communal commercial kitchen space, got ourselves into the market circuit and haven't stopped. We will keep going and going until we can't go anymore.
We really love what we do, and love teaching our kids how to work hard and show up every. single. day.
Our hives now live out in the country living their best life and we're trying to do the same in our little suburban home.
Our little apiary