Originally from Sainte-Madeleine, a small village near St-Hyacinthe, Germain Tétreault realized at a very young age that he had an uncommon passion : bees and everything about them. Even if they seemed frightening to certain people, Germain was fascinated by them. Around the age of 21, he left Québec to learn more about apiculture.
He spent four years in Saskatchewan where he worked for many beekeepers from that province, to eventually return to Québec.
Return to Quebec
Germain Tétreault settled in Témiscamingue, more precisely in St-Bruno-de-Guigues, a region favourable for bee keeping. He then started a business, Miel Abitémis. He has transferred his passion and his knowledge to his family members who are now well established in this amazing business and who ensure its growth and continuity.
A Bit on Apiculture
Bees are part of earth's most important insects. Their role in the pollination process is seen almost everywhere in nature. Without their help, fruits, vegetables, and flowers that we know today would not be the same.
Honey and Its Properties
Honey has many health benefits. It is an antibacterial product, it relieves cough, it promotes digestion and fights throat irritations. It also has scarring and antiseptic agents (action) while having a therapeutic effect on stomach and intestine inflammation. Moreover, honey was used for medicinal purposes before the arrival of antibiotics.
Honey also has a sweetening power, much more than sugar, and with fewer calories.
It is a natural food containing of over 200 different substances. Honey primarily consists of carbohydrates, water, protids, mineral salts, amino acids, organic acids, trace minerals, an important number of vitamins, lipid digestive enzymes, pollen grains and many complex organic compounds.
A Year in the Life of a Bee
From the flower's nectar to the honey in our kitchen, many steps are performed to reach the end product that we know and enjoy.
First of all, it is important to know that bees overwinter. At the beginning of November, we take the hives in a temperature-controlled repository in the honey house. The bees maintain the hives' internal temperature to an appropriate level of 36°C. The queen does not lay eggs during winter, she resumes in the spring.
When the weather gets warmer, usually at the end of March, we take the hives outside. We regroup them in specific areas, called "spring bee yards", that are sheltered from the wind. Once in place, we regularly inspect the hives to verify the food quantity as well as the queen's egg laying.
It is important to offer the best environment possible to the bees in order to allow the hive to develop quickly.
In mid-May, we move the hives to other areas, the "summer bee yards". These areas are carefully selected based on agricultural land where melliferous flowers grow. At the end of June, honey starts to accumulate in the hive and we start gathering it. If the weather permits, that is if it is not too dry and it is warm, this routine will continue for the rest of summer.
Once the supers (also known as "honey boxes") are full of honey, we bring them to the honey house. They are stored there for several days in order to reduce the humidity level. Two days later, the honey is extracted from the supers. We use a special procedure that removes the wax layer from the storage cells. Then the frames are spun quickly in a honey extractor, which enables us to harvest the honey from the frames. Then, the honey settles in a tank before it is stored in barrels.
When it is time to bottle the honey, we empty a few barrels into a vat where the contents become liquefied; the crystals that have formed dissolve. The honey is filtered and then placed into containers, without being pasteurized.