Ron Grootjans and Cathy Worth are the proud owners of BeeToo Honey Farm, located in Brockville, Ontario, and care deeply about producing pure and local honey for their tight knit community. We sat down with the pair to find out a bit more about the importance of bees, the honey that they produce and what it's like to work together!
You started BeeToo Honey Farm in 2018. Tell us why you decided to chase after bees?
RON – I have always had a passion for quality, un-pasteurized honey, often dragging Cathy to Farmer’s Markets wherever we were living to find that high quality honey. And the bees were (and still are) the road to that honey.
After we bought the property, it literally just struck me from out of nowhere – this is the perfect place to raise bees and produce our own honey! BeeToo Honey Farm started with just 4 hives and quickly grew once I made the decision to commit to it full-time.
The bees are a vital part of life on earth, and by raising bees, we are contributing to the greener regrowth of this planet. The amazingly superb honey is their gift to us for helping them thrive.
Bees are really interesting. And they’ve gotten a lot of attention over the last few years with “Save the Bees” campaigns popping up all over the world. Why is that?
RON – Campaigns like "Save the Bees" have become super important because we've seen their numbers greatly diminish over the past couple of decades, mostly from overuse of pesticides and GMO crops. Lately, as their numbers have dropped, it has garnered a lot of attention as to their importance. They are a keystone species, and their loss is our loss. Einstein once said, “Once the bees are gone, humanity will follow in 3-4 years. This is why we MUST see they survive".
Tell us about your honey. What makes it better than the product we find in grocery stores today?
CATHY – BeeToo Honey is local and unpasteurized – it’s exactly what a high grade honey should be along with all of its health benefits. The pollens and nectars that the bees collect are not only beneficial to us, they also produce wonderful honey!
The product you find in grocery stores is mostly low quality, imported honey made with sugar water instead of pollen and nectar. It's also over pasteurized, burning off the evidence and leaving a honey flavored syrup that usually has corn syrup added to thicken it up. A 2019 report produced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found that ALL imported honey was found to be low quality, tainted honey.
Do you offer any other honey related products?
CATHY – Yes, we offer beeswax blocks, and beeswax candles (seasonally). At Christmas we also have beautiful honey/beeswax candle gift boxes for the honey lover on Santa’s list.
Your farm is beautiful. How did you find it? And why did you choose to settle in Brockville?
CATHY – WE decided to move to eastern Ontario after Ron’s father passed away. Ron’s mom and dad grew up in Iroquois and he has a lot of family here. My brother lives in Orleans. Unfortunately, the kids and grandchildren live in the GTA, but we see them several times a year when we make trips down there or when they visit us!
What are your plans for the farm? Anything beyond bees?
RON – We talked about goats from very early on – we have a beautiful barn with four nice stalls, and two nice sized paddocks for them. We have been busy with the bees so far, but the goats will happen one day – I would also like to expand the vegetable garden. I also envision a greenhouse or two to help start early spring flowers to help the bees.
We’ve heard you both talk a lot about the local community. What is that you love the most about it?
CATHY – We have found the local community to be very warm and inviting. We were a little apprehensive at first coming from the GTA as most of the local folks here have lived here all of their lives.But we found them to be very welcoming . They have also been extremely supportive of their new local honey farm. We have made many new friends so far and as time goes on we hope to make many more!
We recently read that the township of Augusta has a goal to become the honey capital of Ontario. What’s that all about? And are you involved at all?
RON – I approached the Township a few months ago with the idea putting a hive on the flat roof of their administration building as well as some of their vacant lots around the township. The CAO, Ray Morrison, loved the idea and asked for a meeting. We met with Ray and the town Planner Myron B along with another beekeeper, the enthusiasm they showed towards the idea was amazing. There is currently myself, and one other beekeeper here in Augusta Township working with the township to have hives placed all over Augusta on vacant parcels of land, not being utilized.
The goal is to bring 100% coverage of bees on these parcels of land to assist the farmers with pollinating their crops. And to bring more beekeepers in the area into the community to help it grow. It has recently passed town council, and Augusta Township has taken it to the next level by having themselves declared a "Bee City". A program within the Province to help the bees and pollination services within the township.
How is it working together?
RON – We both have our own roles within the company that actually allow us to work independently from each other most of the time. There are other times when we are working side by side for extended periods. I think we are both enjoying the overwhelming response we have gotten so far, and it makes us feel good about what were doing and that makes working together really quite fun (although I am pretty sure I overheard some talk about separate vacations from now on)!
CATHY – Different from any other profession I have worked in. We are both working to be the best we can be with our respective roles within the company.
What’s something that you’ve each learned about the other throughout this process? Something that maybe you’ve never told the other person.
RON – I think Cathy would have had a great career in Marketing. She has a natural talent for it that has been a huge bonus to our early success so far.
CATHY – Ron’s dedication, knowledge and commitment to maintaining the health and integrity of the beeyard.
Describe your life on the farm in one word.
RON – Gratifying!
CATHY – Busy!
Is there anything else you want us to know about BeeToo Honey Farm? Final takeaway?
RON – We are trying to provide the best atmosphere possible to help the bees produce the best honey around! Bees operate within a field of frequency and vibration – it’s always important to be in the best mood you can be, when working with them or they can pick up on any bad vibrations. If we can emit the right frequency and vibration ourselves – the bees hone into that positive atmosphere, and reward us with the best quality honey they can produce. Here at BeeToo, we are grateful to our little friends, and we think they know it.
To purchase some of Ron and Cathy's delicious local honey click here.