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Honey a beeg hit at festival

'You'd be amazed at how many people keep bees even in an urban setting'

Curious onlookers were tasting, but not double dipping, 30 varieties of honey this weekend at the Parry Sound Sweet Honey Festival.

The pots of unrefined sweet fluid were produced by beekeepers from around the area and were being offered for sale.

Honey is 25 per cent sweeter than sugar and can sweeten food with fewer calories than sugar.

Glen Hodgson is a recreational beekeeper with a couple of hives. He was volunteering at the event, held at the Canadore Campus.

"Most people that try real honey that's produced locally really recognize that there is no comparison between this and mass-produced honey they would buy at a store," he explained to BayToday. "Local honey will have subtle flavours and they'll be able to pick out different types of flowers and different types of taste. They'll notice different colours and everything has a unique flavour."

Hodgson says there is an increasing number of recreational beekeepers locally, expanding by "leaps and bounds" over the past several years as more are drawn to the hobby.

Want to find out what the buzz is about?

He says it's easy to get started.

See: A Quick Guide to Starting a Beehive

"We recommend doing research first but getting a basic bee package and your first hive is relatively simple to do."

Hodgson also recommends taking a course or finding a local mentor to help you through the first couple of years to learn the intricacies of beekeeping in order to have a successful hive.

You can easily set up a hive in your backyard but Hodgson suggests checking local bylaws first.

"You'd be amazed at how many people keep bees even in an urban setting."

He points out that the Royal York Hotel and Casa Loma in Toronto both have their own beehives.

It's a misconception that you have to worry about being stung or they might be aggressive.

"Absolutely not," Hodgson exclaims. "You can have hives near people and there's very few problems. We have hives in our yard. I have young children and there's no issue. We just make sure they have their own space."

One last piece of very valuable advice.

"Tell your neighbours what you plan to do."