Former employees bring Babe’s Honey back

Historic local brand produced in Saanichton, sold in Saanich

Babe’s Honey co-owners Brendan Bull

Babe’s Honey co-owners Brendan Bull

A familiar name is creating buzz around Saanich.

After a tumultuous year in the spotlight for criminal allegations against its former owner, Babe’s Honey is back on the bright side. In fact, the historic local brand never really went away.

The honey farm’s former operations manager, Brandon Schwartz, along with friends and former employees, bought the Babe’s Honey trademark and recently relaunched the brand

“We never stopped (working),” Schwartz said. “We just kept on going, but there was a massive amount of work to do. We weren’t exactly sure how things were going to take shape so we tried to keep things nice and quiet. We figured when we were ready, we’d let everybody know what we’ve been doing.”

The new Babe’s team – Kevin Van Herwaarden, Brendan Bull, Schwartz’ father Bob Schwartz and queen bee breeder Bob Mitchell – have 170 bee colonies on the Saanich Peninsula. Babe’s is operating from a bee-tight building (no bees can fly out, and no unwanted bees can come in) in Saanichton, as well as in the retail space at Galey Farms, where their products are sold.

Babe’s went into receivership in February 2011 following the December 2010 arrest of former owner Mark Pitcher of Pitcher & Associates Public Accountants Inc. Pitcher was accused of seven counts of fraud over $5,000, totalling $956,945.

It is alleged that between April 1, 2004 and May 19, 2010, Pitcher told clients they owed money to the Receiver General of Canada and used the funds to finance either Babe’s Honey Farm or his accounting firm.

Joiner Sales Corp. of Abbotsford submitted a winning bid and took possession of the farm’s assets last May, but before the auction took place, Joiner sold the bees and the brand to Schwartz, for an undisclosed price.

Babe’s is experiencing about a 12-per-cent death rate among bees. With recent losses on Vancouver Island of upwards of 30 per cent, Schwartz is hopeful for the season ahead.

“This year we’re going to have a really good crop,” Schwartz said. “The bees are in really good shape this year.”

The public response to the Babe’s revival has been “overwhelmingly positive,” he added.

“That’s a common comment we get: ‘We missed Babe’s Honey and we’re glad you’re back.’ … We’re not looking at the past now. We’re looking to the future,” Schwartz said.

Babe’s honey (bottled and in bulk), soap and candles are available daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Galey Farms store, 4150 Blenkinsop Rd. Babe’s vinegar will soon be added to the list of products available.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Ronald Schinners, owner of The Cabbie in the #YYJ, opened his taxi service in the West Shore last month. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
‘One man show,’ The Cabbie in the #YYJ cultivates 45,000 followers on Instagram

New taxi company brings unusual spunk to the West Shore

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

The biggest risk to the Island's economy post-earthquake is that it may never return, according to Bruce Williams, interim CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership. (Contributed by Bruce Williams)
Greater Victoria businesses in chamber spotlight for 2021 awards

Annual awards program highlights local companies making the most of things, despite the pandemic

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read