The Austerfield Apiary has been a part of the the family tradition for generations and generations of bees... and, well, generations of Chantree's too. Here's the story.


Austerfield is a small village in Yorkshire England, where my Grandfather kept twenty colonies of bees as a hobby. The twenty white bee-hives lined one entire side of the garden and were protected from the north-westerly winds by a twelve foot high cedar hedge. The rest of the garden consisted of apple, pair and plum trees and every type of vegetables one could imagine.

I would watch as the bees came from inside the hive and momentarily wait on the flight board [step ] before soaring off to forage for honey into the fields of blooms surrounding Austerfield Apiary.

By the middle of the morning all the field bees were too busy to notice my Grandfather and I donning our bee veils in readiness to open up the hive for a preliminary inspection of the interior. It was my job to light the bee smoker and give the necessary puffs of smoke at the hive entrance and inside the hive as soon as the lid was lifted off. Beneath the hive lid was an inner cover glued down by the bees with a solution called Propolis which prevented any predetors from entering.

The smoke was an indication to the bees that the hive was on fire and therefore time to gather as many stores as possible before leaving the hive. This meant that the bees were pre- occupied and would not bother us. Hopefully by the time the bees realized things were not as they had thought we had completed the inspection and closed the hive up and onto the next one. Needless to say by the time we had reached the end of the row some of the first hives had wised up and it was not long before they were looking for those folks who had disturbed their order of society and wanted to leave their mark!

At the end of each summer it was time to harvest the wonderful bounty. Frames of golden honey were brought into the kitchen and placed into the honey extractor thereby allowing the honey to be separated from the comb and to drip into a tank below where it would be bottled into mason jars, labeled and eventually sold.

These memories stayed with me until I moved to Canada in 1968 and more particularly when I moved to Dundalk in 1973 and purchased a farm. The first year I started with two hives, the second 10, the third 100. In 1976 an opportunity came along to purchase an operation of a retiring bee-keeper which would enable me to become a full time bee-keeper.

Austerfield Apiary's honey and by-products are produced predominantly from the flowers that grow in the Dundalk Highlands and Dufferin County.

Two years ago our operation was the subject of a segment of "A Day in the Country". It was a very exciting experience to have the camera crew come into the bee yard, and despite the fact that it was an over-cast morning not one sting was received by a crew member during the two hour filming. This documentary has been aired many times on the Life Channel.

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R.R.#5 Dundalk, Ontario, Canada. (519) 925-5010.