Our bees came from a monk in England?

A caged Buckfast Queen, marked with a green dot on her thorax, and surrounded by attendant worker bees.

What's new on the farm:

On Friday we received a shipment of 300 queens from Italy.

Along with making our own queens, we like to incorporate new breeds of queens to introduce some diversity into our populations.

You might be surprised to learn that you can order queens from all over the world with different qualities. Many strains are more modern as people have become more scientific with bee breeding.

However, the queens we received have a history that dates back over 107 years!

The queens we received this week are known as "Buckfast" queens, because they are bred from a lineage that originated from a British abbey called Buckfast Abbey.

Buckfast Abbey is famous for breeding bees and having its own type of honey.

Brother Adam was a monk responsible for this fame and the person who created the Buckfast Bees. Throughout his lifetime, he became highly recognized in the beekeeping world.

Born in Germany as Karl Kehrle, he was sent to Buckfast Abbey when he was 11 years old due to health problems.

He started with duties as a stone mason, but because of his health, he couldn't continue, so in 1915 when he was 17 years old he began taking up beekeeping.

A couple of years before he started beekeeping, a parasite called Acarapis woodi had spread all over Britain and killed almost all of the native bees in the country.

The year after Brother Adam started, the parasite killed 30 of the 46 hives at the abbey.

This prompted his goal to breed a strain of bees resistant to diseases and were also gentle to handle, produced large yields of honey, and rarely swarmed.

Over the years, he began traveling all over Europe, North Africa, and up and down the Mediterranean to find bees with desirable traits that he could incorporate into his breeding program.

Even at 89, he went on a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro in search of the black honey bee Apis Mellifera Monticola.

Each time he introduced a new bee into the strain, it took 10 years of work before the desired traits were fixed in the bees' genes.

After 70 years of deliberate and dedicated work, he achieved his goal and much more, and his legacy continues with the Buckfast Bee. This strain is resistant to diseases, especially from mites, and is also famously gentle, and large honey producers.

Buckfast Bees are sought after by beekeepers worldwide, so many breeders have maintained Brother Adam's legacy, including breeders in Italy, where ours came from.

From England to Italy to Saskatoon, Canada, (but really a bee that came from all over the world), we are excited to introduce the queens into their new hives and see how they fare in our prairie climate!


Lemon-Ginger Honey Water

This recipe isn't so much a recipe but a shout-out to the benefits of drinking honey lemon water.
We have a summer cold running through our household so we are consuming vast quantities of this drink this weekend.
Did you know you are better off eating honey instead of over-the-counter cough syrups?
Clinical trials have shown that honey helps reduce cough severity [1] and helps children get better sleep while they are sick compared to conventional cough medicines [2].
Cough medicines often include a ton of sugar syrup and other ingredients, so honey is a great natural alternative if you or your little ones have an allergy to the medication or you just don't want to feed them all that extra stuff.
Just make sure not to feed honey to babies until they are over 1 years old!
The drink:
  • juice of 1 whole lemon
  • a heaping teaspoon of Lemon & Ginger Honey (or use pure honey)
  • 1 cup of boiling water
Mix well and drink while warm!
At nighttime:
  • take 1 tsp of honey before bed to reduce coughing.
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.