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Featured Business: Elk River Apiaries

Deborah Davidson’s journey into apiculture began in 1995 when she responded to an ad looking for a beekeeper while studying in Vernon, BC.

Her interest piqued, she stayed up until 5am reading library books on beekeeping, and eventually followed the job to Fort St John. Later, she travelled to Tauranga, New Zealand and worked for a large honey producer where she also learned about bee breeding.

In 2008, having returned to her hometown of Fernie and following a stint working at the local coal mine, Deborah was looking for a more natural lifestyle with her husband Doug as they started their new family. Keen to revive her passion for bees, she began her own beekeeping business with just 4 hives.

Now, thanks to friends and family who are happy to share their land with the bees, the business is thriving with a collection of around 100 colourful beehives dotted throughout the Elk Valley.

Managing bee colonies in our variable climate is no easy feat. The winters here can be very long, and as bees rely on the food they store during the summer months, they will perish when these stores are depleted. While the business can produce around 5,000lb of honey per year, this amount is very dependent on conditions. 

While many beekeepers prefer a plain white look for their apiaries, Deborah has a practical approach for her bee boxes. Mis-tinted paint is cheaper than plain white, so she buys up assorted colours and creates a beautiful colourblocked look for her hives. The unique combinations of stripes also help young bees locate their own hive after their maiden flights.

Honey is available directly from Elk River Apiaries at local craft fairs and markets, and also from Fernie retailers including The Cottonwood Tree, The Good Earth, Mugshots, Le Grand Fromage, Happy Cow, and the Fernie Museum. 

A delicious ingredient, local food creatives are also incorporating Elk River Apiaries honey into their produce – try honeycomb ice cream at Happy Cow, Bear Bar chocolate at Beanpod, or in a number of culinary creations at Island Lake Lodge. Elk River Apiaries also sells natural beeswax candles at market and craft fair stalls.