Honey, I Bought an Apiary

New owners of Honeydew Apiaries busy settling into PEI life

In Canoe Cove, overlooking the sparkling waters of Northumberland Strait, sits Honeydew Apiaries. While it has been there for a number of years, the honeybee business was recently purchased by Jennifer and Mickael Jauneau. Jennifer hails from Vancouver, BC while Mickael calls the Loire Valley in France his birthplace.

Their journey to PEI didn’t follow a straight path. Jennifer, an HR professional, needed a change so she decided to travel. Mickael, a mechanic, was also travelling and the two met in Australia while working on a pepper farm. In 2013 they travelled to France to be married. Instead of a traditional honeymoon, the couple decided on a working holiday in New Zealand. Employed on an asparagus farm that had beekeeping as the primary business, Mickael was asked to assist with the bees. Reluctantly, he decided to try it for a week but it didn’t interest him. Jennifer persuaded him to give it another week and that was long enough to infect him with the “beekeeping disease,” as he calls it.

Mickael checks the honeycomb Photo credit: Brian McInnis

For five years Mickael travelled between France and New Zealand learning a great deal about beekeeping. Because the seasons are reversed, he was able acquire ten years’ of experience in five. By that time the couple had a son, Thomas, now two, they had tired of the travel and were ready to settle down.

So began their internet search for a place small enough for two people to operate and yet close to a city with amenities. Honeydew Apiaries turned out to be that place. In March of this year, Mickael and his father-in-law travelled to PEI. It was ideal. For Mickael, the countryside reminded him of his home and Jennifer loved being back in Canada. With 2-year-old Thomas in tow, Jennifer moved from New Zealand to PEI without ever having seen the place. Fortunately it was June and the Island charmed her.

Currently the Jauneaus have 200 hives but are aiming for 300 in the future. Each hive contains about 70,000 bees. Their primary sales are honey, both liquid and creamed, that they sell at a stand at the end of their driveway and also at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. Some of their hives are in blueberry fields and that enables them to make blueberry honey. The remainder are in areas with wildflowers so the honey’s taste depends on what nectar the bees collect.

One of the many things they love about PEI is that honey can be sold on the honour system. There has been the occasional theft, but the stand is a favourite for regular customers. Tourists often discover their place by accident as they drive past and frequently inquire about how to order honey when they get back home. The Jauneaus are beginning the process of getting registered to be able to sell off Island.

The Jauneaus in front of their honey stall Photo credit: Brian McInnis

In addition to honey, they also sell 100 percent beeswax candles, soap, skin cream, and lip balm. The skin cream is made from propolis (a resin the bees collect from tree buds and use to repair their hives), beeswax, and olive oil. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties and is said to be very effective on dry skin and eczema.

Beekeeping appeals to the couple because it is a quiet and primarily outdoor activity. They must be organized and creative since plans are made in the current year for the next season. Mickael’s mechanical abilities are put to use making some of the equipment himself. Jennifer makes the beeswax products in a small trailer in their backyard. Their long term plans include redesigning and likely renaming their business, raising some chickens, and growing their own produce including a few walnut trees which are a favourite of Mickael’s.

The couple are happy here and are expecting a sibling for Thomas in the winter. As Mickael said “it is mostly for the lifestyle, not the money.” Given that Honeydew Apiaries offers them this lifestyle, it would seem that the Jauneaus have found their place to grow their business and their family.

About Katie McInnis

Katie McInnis is a retired UPEI employee who enjoys good food and better wine. There is nothing she would rather do than to lie on the beach reading a good book. You can often find her cooking up new dishes or baking goodies. She loves delivering Salty across the Island and looks forward to writing the occasional story.

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