Something’s buzzing in Curran
Jill Davies, owner and operator of Buzzz Honey Products.
Bees are now officially on the endangered species’ list and that should scare honey lovers but also the agriculture sector of the economy.
“Native pollinators in the US provide essential pollination services to agriculture which are valued at more than US $9 billion annually,” said Eric Lee-Mäder, program director at the Xerces Society, the non-profit organisation that petitioned the US government to label the bees as endangered, during a recent interview with CNN. The steep decline in bee population could mean, in a foreseeable future, that products like coffee could disappear. There are many reasons why the bees are dying at an alarming rate; two of them are affecting a local beekeeper.
Jill Davies is the owner of Buzzz Honey Products based in Curran and has seen firsthand what parasites and pesticides can do to a bee colony. “I once found a whole hive being decimated. The bees were all on their back with their tongue sticking out, a sign that they were poisoned. By ingesting harmful pesticides, the bees weaken the hive which is then easier for parasites, like mites, to infect the bees. It’s a vicious cycle.”
Jill Davies and her sister Kathleen Davies operate seven hives in Curran and produce over 200 pounds of honey a year. Jill Davies sells most of the honey and uses the rest, along with the wax to create all-natural beauty products. A veterinarian technologist by trade, she started her hobby over seven years ago making her products out of a makeshift kitchen. “I started out making all kinds of products just for fun, but I realised that people actually liked my stuff and that there was a need for it.”
In 2009, Davies was fighting breast cancer and the medical staff had told her to use calendula cream to prevent burns. She had to go all the way to Toronto to acquire the cream. Seeing the benefits of the cream firsthand she decided to grow her own calendula flowers and extract the active ingredients and incorporate it in all of her beauty products. The bees can also feed on the flowers.
Jill Davies is part of a community of hobby and organic farmers in Prescott Russell who put their lands to work to create niche businesses. But the coexistence between industrial farming and organic local farming is a complicated relationship, not to mention heavy industries trying to settle themselves next to agricultural lands.
What is the future of our rural communities? Many young families are leaving urban settings, trading proximity to their work for a rural lifestyle. In turn, these hobby farmers work their land to create local and organic products and participate in diversifying the available produce to the community. Jill and Kathleen Davies sell their products in farmers’ markets in Ottawa and Cumberland and through the Web.