By Wayne MacPhail
Anthony Pasto considers himself just a sales and marketing guy. In a former life Pasto ran a ball hockey league with a 100 staff members. These days his colleagues, almost all female, number in the millions - working away in 100 hives scattered across Southern Ontario. Pasto is a beekeeper and the owner of Happy Bees Apiary. His company produces small batches of flavoured honeys (lemon, cherry, cinnamon etc.) that Pasto and his reps sell at farmers' markets, trade shows and food fairs. Pasto places his hives in fields far from farms that might spray neonicotinoids. When we visited him at the end of April he was working on hives in a field owned by Dillon's Distillery in Beamsville. During the summer his staff of 12 work the hives with Pasto, learning the bees' habits and the process of honey production. But, Pasto also likes to be outside alone with his bees, which he calls "ladies". This time of year Pasto is checking to see how the bees overwintered, and which hives didn't make it. He also gives them powdered medication against foul brood and sets out some sugar water to get them through the lean spring when only sparse dandelions supply nectar. In return by the end of the season each hive will give up over sixty pounds of honey, along with beeswax for candles and lip balm. Pasto loves looking for the queen in each hive busily laying nearly 2,000 eggs a day into the spic-and-span hives her ladies-in-waiting have prepared of her. "I love this," says Pasto, examining a beautifully regular honeycomb. "I could do this all day."
Video by Wayne MacPhail with additional footage by Barbara Ledger.
Photos by Wayne MacPhail