Hi, I am Gabriel Petrut, owner of BeeLiving Apiaries.
I am a family guy living happily with my wife and our children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I am the third generation of beekeepers.
I grew up in Romania. Both my grandfathers kept bees and so did my father (Mircea Titus Petrut, honorary co-founder of BeeLiving Apiaries). Since my childhood, I have helped my father build boxes for the bees, wire the frames, prepare feeding and other small jobs once in a while.
After I finished high school and the military service, my father invited me to go with him to learn beekeeping. He was keeping bees outside of the city and I enjoyed riding my motorcycle to the bee yard on the weekends and learning about the bees. One season he taught me everything I was supposed to know, then he gave me 10 hives and had me find a place to keep them. That’s because, he said, I will need to be on my own to actually learn. I could, of course, ask him for advice any time I needed.
This is what I am looking to do with you.
Teach you the basics, do's and don'ts, nitty gritty of beekeeping, get you on your own to learn by doing, help you avoid the biggest mistakes beginners do, then be available when you need advice on solving some problem.
At that time, I only did beekeeping on my own for one more season. I was young and I started to lack interest and did not do the best for the bees. Most of the colonies died and the others I left for the owner of the land to keep. My father was a bit disappointed, but he understood the situation.
Many years later, I came to Canada. I started working in constructions, as I am good at woodworking and ceramic tiles. One day, I met a friend that said he is going to buy a farm. All of the sudden, I asked him if he would like to do beekeeping. He said, yes, but he did not know anything about it. So I offered to partner up with him, teach him beekeeping for a chance to have a place to keep my own bees.
My father was ecstatic.
Finally, one of his sons kept the family tradition! We started to have almost daily conversations that kept going on for about 7 years I guess. I had to re-learn almost everything I knew about beekeeping, then some more, through experimentations that I did through these years. Just as my father did, I built all my own equipment, because at that time it was hard to find 8 frame boxes, bottoms, lids, etc. I innovated here and there on the lid design and other things, just like my father did years ago when he started beekeeping.
So, my friend and I started with 6 nucs, then another 4, and grew them to 20 hives. Unfortunately, I was interested in doing treatment free beekeeping, that is not easily done if you want it done the right way. I thought I had learned everything I needed, but guess what? Most of our hives died in our second winter.
Knowing that both me and my friend wanted to have many hives, it was best if I looked for a secondary location. I found another friend who graciously allowed me to bring the bees on his property and to build a shed to keep my equipment. As a bonus, it was closer to home. So I split the boxes with my first partner and brought them to the new location, then I bought 10 nucs.
Every year, my goal was to double the numbers until I was reaching 100 production hives and 50 nucs. That was my plan so I can be a full time beekeeper.
After 2 years I had 40 hives and I bought my own property. I moved the hives there in the Fall, then the next year was not a good year for the bees, so I only got to 65 hives. An unfortunate back accident left me unable to lift the boxes and I did not know anyone to ask for help. I was 2 hours out of the city and most people I knew were busy with their own stuff. I failed to prepare them for winter so half of them died.
Another hard year followed. I had to go back to the city to work during the week. Family obligations allowed me to only work on the hives every other weekend. I could increase no more and I lost part of the equipment to wax moths.
Next season, I realized that I can’t do this anymore, especially since I started to have recurring back problems. I could not let the bees die, so I decided to sell everything. A friend sent me a buyer who bought the hives and all new and also medium used equipment.
All I had remaining was a few old boxes and frames, which I moved to the location where I still had the shed. I stacked them up behind the shed for storage and forgot about them.
I was done with the bees…
Or so I thought…
One day I needed something from the shed, which I was keeping as a storage and I discovered that a swarm of bees took residence in a stack of boxes at the back of the shed! Since it was Fall, I left them alone to see what happens.
Next Spring I opened them up, saw that it was a strong colony and decided to see how they do if I left them alone. In the Summer I went to check on them, removed some honey, then at the end of the Summer I removed honey again. Unfortunately, there was a huge nest of wasps nearby that attacked the colony and killed the queen and most of the bees. They robbed all the honey I left them to be able to winter properly.
Next Summer, another 2 swarms moved in my boxes! This time, one in the old stack and another in a smaller stack, so this swarm was smaller. I took a box of bees from the bigger swarm and made them equal in size. Then, in the Fall, I had to move the shed and the bees to my current location, about 2 hours distance from home, on another friend’s property.
In 2020, from those 2 hives I made one for the current property owner and we extracted honey 2 times and also collected pollen in the Spring.
Thinking back on how I worked the colonies over the years, I realized that what was good and working for me, did not work, or was not so good for the bees.
This realization led me to read more about natural, holistic beekeeping, to find a way that is not stressful for both the bees and the beekeeper. Also, I was looking into methods that would not need me to lift so much weight. I have found some solutions. I discovered that it CAN be done, and that made me want to keep going.
While I am still on my journey to a different way of beekeeping, thanks to this loving relationship the bees have with me and out of my love for my community of beekeepers, I am here to share my findings with people that are called for it.
Are you one of them?
Contact me if you are ready to learn more.
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