Beekeeping is a buzz in Thunder Bay

March 2019

Aaaah, Winter in Thunder Bay and the last thing that is on anyone’s mind is the buzzing of a bee to interrupt an otherwise perfect summer day. Unless you are one of our local beekeepers. For them, that sound is music to their ears.

Nicole Landgraff-Wegner first cracked open a hive in the spring of 2009 under the guidance of family friend Rocky Scali. Nicole remembers that day fondly.

“I recall that first experience. He asked me to spot the queen and after scanning a few frames covered with bees, I found her. She certainly stood out to me and Rocky stated ‘you’re a natural’.”

Over evenings and weekends Rocky mentored Nicole as she immersed herself in all things beekeeping. When asked what she loves most about it, she beams “There is always something new to learn.”

Nicole’s gentle, soft-spoken personality is perfectly suited to beekeeping. The most common question she is asked is if she has ever been stung. “Yes, a few times” she chuckles, but quickly notes “it is usually because of something that I did that they didn’t like such as making a sudden movement or accidentally squishing one of them”.

Raised on a hobby farm near Kakabeka Falls, Nicole dreamed of living on a farm when she had her own family. This dream became a reality 5 years ago when she and her husband Tim bought property and their family grew with the addition of their two children, Sofie Joy and Cooper.

Bees produce honey to sustain their colony and feed it over the winter. The excess is planed off or removed with a hot knife and bottled for sale. Harvesting is very labor intensive. Tim literally does the heavy lifting-each hive can weigh up to 100 lbs. Northfield Apiary presently has 8 hives with plans to add more. Each hive can house up to 20,000 bees at the height of the summer.
This September the hives produced 150 kilograms of honey for sale. The source of the nectar determines the honey’s flavor and colour. Northfield Apiary honey is categorized as “wildflower” honey since their bees fly freely and do not feed on any specific flower or plant.

While getting the apiary up and running, something else was growing too. Love. Rocky and Nicole’s mother, both widowed, delighted and surprised everyone by marrying in 2017. When Rocky became her step-dad, the business became a true family affair. Rocky and Glenna bottle and deliver the honey, Tim takes care of the maintenance, Nicole manages the hives and the kids happily serve as official taste testers.

Nicole finds creative ways to use all the materials that are produced. Nothing is wasted. Waxed cotton food wraps, a plastic food wrap alternative, are made by melting the wax cappings and soaking cotton fabric in the melted wax. Warm up the wrap in your hands until it is pliable and stretch it over your container. And if you think honey is just to sweeten your tea, think again. One of Nicole’s newest concoctions is fermented garlic in honey and is a huge hit. Now that is thinking outside the hive.

People with common interests tend to gravitate to each other, and the beekeeping community is no exception. Two gentleman in particular, Jim Heald and Brian Biesenthal are frequent visitors to the farm and are always happy to share their expertise. “Brian has been instrumental in our more recent success and has mentored Tim immensely this last year.” says Nicole.
Thanks to our local beekeepers for their dedication to making our lives a little bit sweeter…one jar at a time.

Look up Nicole at Dancing Bee Apiary and Concoctions on Facebook or at the Craft Revival held twice yearly in the Waterfront Distict.

For more information, visit The Thunder Bay Beekeepers Association -

Kathy Shilliday is a regular contributor and a hawk eye for stories to share. She can be reached at

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