There's more than just the bees buzzing at Tuck's Bee Better Farm in Grand Falls Windsor. The bee farm is expanding, with a new $1.7-million production facility set to open this fall.
After nine years in operation, owner Trevor Tuck says it's a natural expansion for the business.
"It's been a lot of hard work to get here, but it's starting to pay off," Tuck said.
One of the farm's main products is a cranberry juice made with local berries and sweetened with honey.
Right now, the business makes about 5,000 bottles of the juice a month. This investment will dramatically increase production, and meet the demand for their products.
"The machinery would be able to do that in less than an eight-hour shift," he said.
It will also enable the business to operate year-round and hire up to five people.
Along with more bottles, they'll be making a variety of sizes of the juice, and showing people how it's done.
The expansion through personal investment along with government money, including $400,000 from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, $206,850 from ACOA, and $251,650 from the provincial Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.
As part of the expansion the bee farm's building, which is 60 feet by 120 feet, will be split into four sections: a retail space, a production area, a loading area and storage.
In the retail space, visitors can observe honey collection from a hive and see how products like the juice, butter and berry sauces are made.
Tuck said he hopes to teach people about the value of honeybees in everything we do.
"Anything sold in the building and that will be basically related to honeybees," he said. "We have a viewing area. It's gonna be an experiential tourism kind of building as well, so when people come in they will learn about honeybees and all that they do in our food chain and how important a role they have in our ecosystem."
Meeting increased demand
Tuck said the demand for local products has increased over the years. It's good news for their business, and for the local farmers they work with.
This investment will also help as more international inquiries come in, he said.
"We have interest from some European companies. There's been some interest from China. Until we actually have this Canadian Food Inspection Agency-approved facility, we couldn't actually get into those markets," he said. "Right now it's a lot of speculation or anticipation."