Walking into Kenny Dale’s workshop you immediately notice the warmth, then a faint sweet smell and finally, as soon as you touch something, the stickiness.
Dale’s honey making workshop sits in his basement, specially designed for the process that takes honey from bee boxes and ends with the thick golden liquid in jars ready to sell or eat.
Dale hasn’t always kept bees; he started three years ago and has grown the operation, building the room and adding more boxes.
“My wife Lark bought me a starter kit for Christmas three years ago and from then on I’ve just been getting into it and doing it all myself,” Dale said. “It’s nice to take it from the box to the bottle in here and you never lose touch of it.
“I just really like honey, it’s something I have in my coffee every morning.”
He has learned alongside his mentor Chris Pavluk and has grown to have nine hives, keeping him busy going through the extraction process four times a year. Five of his hives sit on a property at Shumway Lake and the other four at Running Horse Ranch in Kamloops, where he works as a cowboy full time.
The location of the bees makes for a delicious product. The bees, originally from Hawaii, fly to alfalfa fields, clover, sagebrush, a nearby creek and gardens in the Aberdeen area.
When the boxes are filled around every two and a half weeks, Dale collects them and begins the extraction process.
It takes just over a day and the room must be warm, almost uncomfortably so, to keep the honey liquid throughout.
“You don’t want it cold in the bee room,” Dale said.
Dale starts by bringing in the boxes which have nine frames each. A box can weigh 90 to 100 pounds and will make around 40 jars which are one kilo each.
When the frames are removed, wax is cut off with a heated knife and hot air is blown through before being placed into a spinning tank called an extractor. This makes Dale’s life much easier as he previously used a hand cranked version.
From there honey flows into a clarifying tank where it settles with unwanted bits, wax and bee parts floating to the top. It sits for 24 hours before it can be drained into jars and labelled with his logo and the name “MissBeeHiven.”
“By the time it gets to this end it’s super clear,” he said.
Leftover wax is made into one pound blocks to be sold or used to make candles; nothing goes to waste.
When the honey is bottled and labeled it’s sold at Dale’s wife’s Remax office in Sun Peaks or to family friends.
The honey also feeds another passion of Dale’s, skateboarding. A portion of sales foes to the Sun Peaks Skate Park Association.
But true to the reason he started, he keeps 12 jars for himself to enjoy one every month.