Why these 2 young beekeepers say business is sweet

·3 min read
Denver Nelson, left, and Cale Nelson say they share the work of taking care of the bees and harvesting the honey, with a little help from their dad.  (Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit)
Denver Nelson, left, and Cale Nelson say they share the work of taking care of the bees and harvesting the honey, with a little help from their dad. (Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit)

If you're driving through Montague, P.E.I., you might already be familiar with one farm stand that's creating a lot of buzz.

Cale and Denver Nelson — or the "Bee Boys" as they've come to be known — started beekeeping as a hobby four years ago, with the help of their dad.

"It was kind of scary because you don't really know much about beekeeping," Denver said. "When bees are coming at you it's, like, freaky, almost."

But, Denver said they did their research and quickly got the hang of things. And now, they've turned that family hobby into a business.

"They were making a lot of honey, so we decided to make a business out of it," said Cale.

C and D's Honey/Facebook
C and D's Honey/Facebook

C and D's Honey opened for business shortly after Denver, 13, Cale, 11, and their parents started beekeeping. Cale said they began by selling honey at the end of their driveway and about a year ago their dad built them a honey shack, which they finished with a black and yellow paint job.

"Last year we sold it at a market by the waterfront in Charlottetown and we went to Bogside [Brewing], and it was good there," Cale said. "Now we're branching out in the Charlottetown Mall."

Cale and Denver said they tend to their hives between early spring and fall, harvesting the honey twice per season. They now have 21 hives, each one home to about 50,000 bees.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

They have their own protective suits they wear when harvesting the honey or tending to the bees, but Denver said they've still had their fair share of stings. They've also learned to use smoke to help calm the bees while handling the hives.

He said the frames are then taken out of the hives, placed in an extractor and spun until the honey comes out.

Then it's time to put it in jars, add the labels and take them to the honey shack or farmers' markets to sell.

"I think it's pretty cool, myself, because it's your own product in a store that people, the public goes to and they can just see that," he said. "People say it's really good and they'd buy it again."

Helping pollinators thrive

Cale and Denver started their business through the Young Millionaires Program, which offers young entrepreneurs training, mentoring and funding to start a business.

Their dad, Jeff Nelson, said he and his wife thought beekeeping and selling their honey would be a good opportunity to teach them some important life skills. He said watching their business grow has made them very proud.

"They're doing really well with it," he said.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

"They go to a couple farmers' markets and when people come to the house they're talking to people about bees and there's a lot of people around who know them as the Bee Boys."

Cale said bees are also important contributors to a healthy environment and he hopes his business is helping them pollinate and thrive on P.E.I.

"If we didn't have bees we wouldn't have, like, any pollination in the flowers," he said.

'You get to work with your family'

Cale and Denver said they've also started making and selling candles from the beeswax they harvest from their hives, which they will be selling along with their honey at the Branching Out Island Artisan Market in the Charlottetown Mall until Christmas.

They said they also sell their products through social media and always keep the honey shack stocked for people who want to stop in and pay them a visit.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

Denver said he and Cale share all the work, but get a little help from their dad.

"I'd say it's pretty fun because you get to work with your family and it's just helping hands and you just share everything," said Denver.

Asked what advice they have for young people looking to start a business, Cale has a suggestion.

"They should ask their dad to get bees because it's pretty fun," he said.

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