Viking Gold honey and beehouses
by Rachel Babichuk
Andresen Apiaries is a Beekeeping Outfit based out of Strathcona County, Alberta. Their operation provides Beekeeping Equipment (Bee Houses) to clients in Western Canada and honey (branded as ‘Viking Gold’) to the growing number of customers.
Jennifer and Andrew Andresen’s passion for bees began in 2015 when they purchased their first hive after moving out of Edmonton. For almost six years, they have been working with bees with a new curve being thrown at them every day. Starting by raising bees and extracting honey, Jennifer and Andrew craved more. With extensive research, they decided to expand into building beekeeping equipment. During their visit with Beekeeping experts Alvin and Judy Hove, they “came across an opportunity to purchase woodworking saws specifically designed to manufacture beekeeping equipment”: thus, Andresen Apiaries Inc. was created in the spring of 2020.
Starting up a business amid a global pandemic has been anything but serene. They have been making the best of the times, and with continued support from their valued customers, Andresen Apiaries Inc. has been able to live on, but not without implementing new health and safety guidelines. Jennifer explains that they started their business in the midst of the pandemic and have been successful so far. It has been relatively easy to implement proper guidelines and safety outlined by Alberta Health Services. They implement physical distancing and contactless pick-up.
This journey has not been easy, however. Jennifer and Andrew both work full time jobs, Jennifer as an X-Ray technician and Andrew Journeyman Electrician. In addition to working crazy hours, this couple is raising two young children. With the goal of one day being “a self- sustaining successful local business”, the Andresens are working tireless hours from March to the end of October and then it is back to their day-time jobs.
Beekeeping sounds ‘sweet’, but it is a very labour intensive job. Jennifer and Andrew say that almost daily, the tasks range from “feeding the hives, disease and pest management, queen rearing, splitting, honey extraction, honey processing/bottling, and winter wrapping”. During peak season, Andrew is the craftsman behind beekeeping equipment where he “works tirelessly in his spare time on evenings and weekends to fill hive equipment orders”. Andresen Apiaries offers a variety of sized boxes from 5 frame, 6 frame to 8 frame, and 10 frame. They also offer custom equipment. This coming season, they will be starting to sell nucs (small starter hive) and queens to anyone looking to purchase calm local bees at a competitive price.
Over the summer Jennifer experimented with raising her own Queens, mating Nucs (nucleus colonies) and placing Queen cells. It begins with grafting and moving tiny larvae into artificial cups, then inserting the cups into Queen-less hives. From there, Jennifer explains that “the bees draw out and feed the Queen cells”. Then it’s waiting for the Queens to hatch and mate.
After a successful summer, Jennifer and Andrew are buzzing with excitement for next year. With more knowledge than in years before, the Andresen’s hope that “one day in the near future Andrew can focus full-time on the business”. They explain that they also hope to become an important part of and give back to the local community.
Jennifer and Andrew aspire to selling honey throughout the year while adding the sale of live bees to their products. As Edmonton-area locals, they hope that more people will continue to choose Andresen Apiaries for all their bee needs and discuss that “having a local and reputable equipment supplier is essential to [successful beekeeping]”. With locally sourced materials, you can’t get a more respectable business than that!
110 51112, Range Rd 222, Sherwood Park, AB T8C 1G9
(Located 20 minutes southeast of Edmonton and Sherwood Park)