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Mickael Jauneau had zero interest in beekeeping.
But a beekeeper at a New Zealand farm quit the day before Mickael and his wife, Jennifer, visited it while backpacking the country in 2013.
When the farm asked him if he’d help harvest honey, he originally declined.
“I didn’t want to do it.”
Jennifer pushed him to give it a try, so he did. At first, it was just a labour job.
“It’s not really interesting if you do things and you don’t know why.”
After a few weeks, the farm asked if he’d like to keep working.
He wasn’t planning to.
“I didn’t want to keep doing it.”
However, Jennifer kept encouraging him, so he stuck it out. The more he learned about how the process works and how bees behave, the more he enjoyed it, he said.
“It got more and more interesting.”
He hasn’t done anything else since. The couple started as backpackers and ended up beekeepers.
They eventually started having children. They wanted to be somewhere closer to their two families in France and Vancouver, where Jennifer is from.
In early 2018, they found an ad for an apiary between their two homes, called Honeydew Apiary. They bought it, and by June that year they made the move to Canoe Cove, P.E.I.
Canoe Cove Honey has been operating under the couple's ownership ever since.
Right now, they harvest, extract, and bottle two flavours of honey, wildflower and blueberry. They have about 200 hives within a 20-kilometre radius of the farm, each housing about 70,000 honey bees and producing an average of 99 lbs of honey a year.
They sell their honey at various Island markets like the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. They also have a product booth at the end of their driveway that works on an honesty system.
They’re working to grow and promote the business. This summer they started holding tours every Sunday for whoever wants to learn about beekeeping, and they’re creating a website for online orders.
Jennifer started using the leftover beeswax to make and sell skin cream, lip balm and soap. She’s working on creating more products, she said.
“I’m hoping by Christmas I get organized and I have a good supply of candles.”
P.E.I. has been a welcoming new home, and the Jauneaus have received lots of support from their neighbours. The apiary sale came with a house and a small production workshop, which was ideal because they weren’t looking to manage a big business, Jennifer said.
“We wanted the bees, we wanted some land, and it’s the lifestyle we wanted for our kids.”