Thomas Yesdresyski pulls out a tray from a hive next to the kitchen.

Bear Mountain buzzing with honey

This year marks the first big honey harvest at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa with about 500 pounds of the sticky sweetener.

Thomas Yesdresyski moves nonchalantly among thousands of bees zipping around him as he opens up their hive.

Without hesitation his steady hands pull out the honeycomb tray dripping with the thick, golden nectar.

This year marks the first big honey harvest at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa with about 500 pounds of the sticky sweetener.

“Last year was a build up year,” Yesdresyski said, noting only a small amount of honey was harvested. Not all the honey in the hives is removed. About 70 pounds of honey is needed by the hive to survive the winter.

“The bees cluster in the hive to stay warm and they eat honey,” Yesdresyski said, adding the bees only forage during the spring and summer. In warmer climates, such as South America, bees can forage all year round. The harvested honey is then used in the hotel kitchen to create honey ice cream, savoury sauces and salad dressings.

“Once you start stealing honey the bees start to get more aggressive,” Yesdresyski said, as the Italian bees begun to swarm about while their honey was removed. “But when you realize what they are all about they are actually kind of harmless.”

Yesdresyski  is the restaurant’s sous chef, but he doubles as a beekeeper.

The resort uses honey from three hives located on Bear Mountain. One hive is near the Westin and the other two are kept at Yesdresyski’s home at the base of the mountain.

Each hive has nearly 70,000 bees.

After collecting the honey trays, each weighing up to 10 pounds, Yesdresyski brings them into the kitchen and gets ready to extract the honey.

“We don’t use any heat here, it’s 100 per cent raw. The hottest the honey ever gets is in the hive from the sun,” Yesdresyski said.

In the kitchen Yesdresyski begins scrapping the trays with an uncapping fork, removing the beeswax and sealing in the golden goodness.

The uncapped trays are then placed in a spinning cylinder called a honey extractor. Using centrifugal force the honey is spun out of the tray, which preserves the honey comb allowing it to be returned to the hive.

“The bees put so much work into the honey comb and you want to respect that,” Yesdresyski said.

The honey is also for sale at the Westin at Bear Mountain. The honey is created from the flowers and plants the bees have foraged from within eight kilometers from the hives.

charla@goldstreamgazette.com

Did you know?

• The average lifespan of a honey bee in the summer is about six weeks, though the queen can live several years.

• When a queen bee gets weak, the other bees hatch a new queen who then kills the old queen.

• Only female bees make honey. Male bees fertilize eggs and eat honey. In the winter the female bees cull the majority of the males to conserve honey.

 

Just Posted

Victoria hotel trashes Channing Tatum in favour of B.C.’s Ryan Reynolds

Tatum’s picture left in recycling bin, replaced with photo of Ryan Reynolds

Unhealthy disagreement sees three First Nations chiefs take government to court

Claim and counter-claim: B.C.’s First Nations health department and administrator end up in court.

One arrested, weapons, and drugs seized in Sooke bust

During the Feb. 6 raid, police found firearms, ammunition, drugs, and brass knuckles

Saanich intersections rank as Island’s three worst

Intersection of Admirals Road, McKenzie Avenue, and the Trans-Canada Highway had the most crashes

New tutorial ‘Whales in our Waters’ launched by BC Ferries

A new tutorial has been launched for mariners and the general public about whales in the Salish Sea

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Okanagan ski resort officials displeased with Family Day roll-out

From one peak of the Okanagan to the other, resort officials have raised concerns

Island fossil makes it to the top of the provincial list

Courtenay’s elasmosaur will be added to the official Provincial Symbols of British Columbia

B.C. high school robotics team ranked first in the world for programming

The Surrey team was also named tournament finalists at VEX Robotics Competition on Feb. 1

Man shot dead in front of Kamloops hotel may be case of mistaken identity: RCMP

Rex Gill, 44, was not previously known to Kamloops police unlike second shooting victim

Vancouver Island boys high school basketball bragging rights on the line

Oak Bay, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Victoria host Island championships this weekend

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Most Read