Cornect Family Farm is a family business whose vision is to provide the highest quality of honey and honey products to markets. This is done by keeping true to its roots of always putting the health of the bees and the environment first. We are a value driven company and believe in giving back to our customers, community and environment. We make sure each products is of artisan quality and delivered in a way that is responsible to the environment while supporting other local businesses.
Producing artisan honey from the many wildflowers and blueberry blossoms in their surrounding area for over 29 years; Cornect Family Farm has grown their farm business from 2 beehives in 1994 to over 400 beehives providing pollination services for their own and other growers in Eastern Nova Scotia.
Their youngest son, Benjamin, has expanded the beekeeping and pollination side of the farm, while Margaret, “The Honey Lady” continues to grow not only the markets for their honey but also create unique value added products being sold today.
“We take honey from flowers to your table and enjoyment.”
How It All Started
“A land of milk and honey….” is an ancient expression symbolizing a land enjoying peace and prosperity: Life was sweet, and no one had a sweeter job than the beekeeper. Throughout history and around the globe, beekeepers have been held in high esteem –as were the little insects that could turn nectar into honey. In the process of pollinating flowers, bees help nature’s plant life to reproduce itself, and thereby also ensured humankind a bountiful harvest and prosperity.
Passionately carrying on the art of beekeeping in the 21st century is Margaret Cornect, the “honey lady”, usually found at the Antigonish Farmers’ Market. She has made it her business to produce a great variety of high quality honey products. Yet Margaret could never have imagined, many years ago, that she and her family would have become so involved with the honey business. It all started with the “simple” idea to grow some wild blueberries. “ After having cut down the forest and having the land levelled, thirty-five acres of blueberry fields eventually came into production. We rented 10 beehives and my husband and I would sit by the hives and watch in fascination at the bees coming and going – their little legs covered in bright yellow pollen, sometimes so much that it seemed they had trouble flying. Before I knew it, we had our own two hives. …but not a clue as to how to look after them; yet we learned through trial and error. Since my husband worked away from home, it fell to me to become the beekeeper. And that’s another whole story!”
Soon Margaret wanted to own more hives and the couple agreed to split the responsibilities. Her husband, Wayne, took on the blueberry business and Margaret looked after the honeybee operation. Things rapidly progressed. “After extracting those first 35 lbs., I wondered how I’d ever sell that much honey! So I began to make value-added products, first the butters and then the jams and jellies -the latter being the hardest as I had to develop most of my own recipes.” In order to use the beeswax she also began to make candles, and eventually also skin cream and lip balm.
Nonetheless, it is a family-run operation and each member uses his/her own special talents and skills to help each other. “I’ve done my fair share of rock-picking, hand-weeding and cutting the seed pods of bulrushes. Now that my husband is “retired”, he also helps with the heavy work involved with beekeeping. Our kids have been wonderful. Crispin did our first website and still helps whenever as needed. Amanda will help with the labels, newsletters and will also paint ‘empty’ hives. Benjamin, our youngest, helps move the bees and will dig through a hive with me.”
It is clear that much work and commitment is required to enjoy a successful beekeeping operation. As the business expanded, the Cornects built a special “honey-house” for the work involved with the extracting, processing, and storage of the various honey products. Everything possible is recycled, and Margaret encourages people to return empty jars for re-using. The work is year round, but naturally some seasons are busier than others. “During the winter months, we make any needed new equipment. I also make thousands of pounds of creamed honey and keep the regular outlets and restaurants supplied with honey. In the spring the hives are unwrapped and we get them ready for the blueberry fields, making sure they are healthy and have enough food stores to keep them until natural pollen and nectar become available. Strong hives may be split and combined with weaker ones. During the summer, the bees are busy expanding and we have to make sure they have enough room. Beehives, which have app. 6,000 bees in the spring, will swell to 60,000 plus bees during the summer months! Soon the honey begins to flow. In early September, the honey will be extracted and stored in buckets. Before you know it, it’s time to get the colonies ready for winter! They are checked for mites or disease, and fed a heavy a sugar syrup. In mid-November, the hives are wrapped to protect them from the winter winds and I begin to get ready for the Christmas sales. The busiest time for me starts as soon as the Antigonish Farmers Market begins. I make the honey butters, jams and jellies as the fruit comes in season, enough to get me through the Christmas season when I also make up special gift boxes. Honey needs to be packed regularly and the beeswax products made. In January I get to put my feet up for a bit, until it’s time to start up again.”
Margaret’s mission is “to always do what is best for the bees and never produce anything that I would not use myself. I believe in being honest and true. At the end of the day I’d like to feel that hopefully I’ve made someone’s day a little better.”
She loves “local people who share my interest and passion for supporting local business by buying locally-produced products.”