Paul and Henry Greidanus are continuing the family business of operating a busy honey bee farm in Sturgeon County.
Since 1975, the family have run the Greidanus Apiaries.
The brothers began helping their father with his beekeeping duties since they were only five-years-old. Henry said growing up around bees gave him a huge appreciation for them. He loves "watching and seeing the nature of bees and how amazing it is, the things that they do. The way that they operate and what they are capable of doing, the small jobs that they do that make a big difference."
In 2005, their father passed away and the brothers took over managing the farm.
A day running a honey bee farm is long. They work for 10 hours every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m, taking care of thousands of beehives.
The entire season is about five months long. It first starts at the beginning of April when the bees come out of hibernation. They open the hives up, feed the bees and give them what they need to start the new season, like sugar syrup and medication.
According to Henry, during the winter months "bees can suffer from different types of bacteria and spores and those need to be combated with medication or antibiotics." There are parasites that also need to be controlled.
During the early season, the brothers try to make up the numbers after losing some bees in the winter and strengthen them so that they are ready for honey season. That's no easy task. There are about 350-million bees on the farm each year.
After it warms, they start queen checking. The workers look through the colonies and ensure that each hive has one queen and that the hive is healthy. Then they will either introduce a new queen if necessary or they will start making splits, which is creating new hives from stronger hives.
The major honey flow comes in the middle of July, which is when they start harvesting. The actual honey season only lasts about 45 days, so they must work quickly to produce as much honey as possible from each of their hives.
On average, the farm produces a million pounds of honey each year.
Managing so much requires assistance, so during the busy summer months the brothers have up to 20 employees helping them.
Many of those workers come from outside of the country, so they live directly on the farm.
According to the brothers, beekeeping is a necessity for honey bees. They are not native to Canada, so without beekeepers overwintering, they would likely die out.
"It is crucial that beekeepers provide the bees with what they need to survive the winter."
The season ends in October, after they spend a month and a half preparing the bees for the cold months ahead.