Native bee species are dying off at alarming rates in Canada, but there’s a little organic farm just outside of Victoria, B.C. that’s doing its part to help these important pollinators thrive. Owner of Queen Bee Farms, Terry Mellett started the farm in 2014, dedicated to the creation, promotion, and preservation of bee and pollinator-friendly habitats.
The Vancouver Island apiary and organic herb farm has grown steadily ever since. Over the years Mellett has carefully selected and grown varieties of plants and trees that benefit the farm’s bees and visiting pollinators. It has paid off for the bee population and his bottom line.
The Road to Exporting
After expanding their product line to include premium wildflower and fireweed honey, artisan-crafted teas, simple syrups for cocktails, skincare products, and fresh-cut herbs, Queen Bee Farms wanted to seek out opportunities to export. The Export Navigator program was there to help.
“We were put in touch with the Export Navigator and our experience has been great,” says Mellett. “Our advisor helps us with addressing issues and challenges that come up as we investigate opportunities to export. They have also been helpful in navigating the complex web of information needed through government websites and government contacts.”
Queen Bee Farms continues to work with Export Navigator, exploring opportunities, grants and more that have shifted because of COVID-19 regulations. Their advisor was also there for them when contracts that were secured with China were put on hold because of the pandemic.
Shifting to New Markets
The Export Navigator program helped mitigate what could have been a devastating blow when the pandemic halted Queen Bee Farms’ exports into Asian markets. But with support from their advisor, Queen Bee was able to shift direction and begin exporting nationally.
“Due to COVID we have been hampered in our export plans into the Asian markets, however we have successfully expanded our markets in Canada over this past year instead,” says Mellett.
More Canadians are now enjoying honey from this Vancouver Island farm and endangered bees have a preserved habitat that supports a comeback for the species. Weathering the pandemic and its setbacks has been easier thanks to Queen Bee Farms’ export advisor.
I would highly recommend the Export Navigator program to any business owner looking at expanding their markets,” says Mellett. “We have really used the Export Navigator program a lot over that past couple years. Our advisors have been very helpful in addressing our questions and concerns.”