Family Beekeeping History
Robert (Bob) Hamilton came to Canada in 1910 from Scotland at age 16. He had been raised in a beekeeping family so it was only natural that he would be interested in beekeeping in Saskatchewan. He was located near the Qu'Appelle Valley area, at Neudorf SK which had an abundance of wild flowers for the bees to forage. At the time mostly cereal crops were grown. In the spring of 1911; he purchased two colonies. The bees did very well over the years averaging about 120 to 160 pounds. per colony. In the good Wolf Willow year’s the bees averaged near the 180 pound mark. In the early years the bees would be overwintered in the root root cellar under the house. They were transported on hay wagons and had to be wrapped very well to prevent bees from escaping. It was not unheard of for horses to be killed when a hive fell off the Wagon. Package bees were also imported from California, and arrived by train. Bob’s son Sandy would ride the train back from California with the bees
In 1923 Toni Mack, of Lumsden. John Hubbard, and Robert Hamilton Sr. organized the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Association assisted by Hedley Auld who was then Deputy Minister of Agriculture. The first meeting was in a tent at the Regina Fair in August 1923. Between 1923 and 1926 Robert did inspection work for the Department of Agriculture in the Abernethy and Balcarres districts. In 1924 the family lived in Neudorf, SK. In 1938 Bob was giving lectures for the Department of Agriculture; as far away as Swift current, SK. In 1939 they moved to Aylsham, SK where Bob & Cora ran an 800 colony bee operation until 1962.
Bob’s brother Willy living in Scotland, wrote the book “the Art of Beekeeping” (1945). He managed the bees at the University of Glasgow and was a Lecturer at Yorkshire Institute, University OF Leeds, & West Scotland College. His nephew Graham is a bee hobbyist
In 1946, with the help of partners Grant & Dunn; Bob started a packing line; packaging Northern Blossom Brand honey.
Bill & Kath Hamilton started Hamilton's Bee Ranch in Nipawin. SK. in 1954; purchasing the bee outfit, Clover Apiaries, from Sarkisian & Craik, located at 914 9th Ave. West in Nipawin.
Bob & Bill both packed Northern Blossoms Brand honey from 1957-59; with the head office in Aylsham. Bob passed away in 1962. Cora sold the outfit to Kath’s brother Charles Gane. Richard Gane also built a large bee outfit nearby, and later moved Northeast of Nipawin.
In 1972 Bill & Kath started construction of their new plant northeast of Codette, SK. They moved from Nipawin to Codette in 1979. Northern Blossoms wasn’t packed from 1972 - 1979 because of the increased work load of construction. GPS Location 53.286206,-104.024104 The Hamilton Bee Ranch property at Codette was sold in 2020 Yardsite Video. We had a large sale to cleanup our treasures from 50 years of collecting Toys we all had. Some very rusty iron.
Their 4 sons are still involved in Beekeeping. Robert has bees west of Codette, & north of Regina, SK, with his son Andrew. Jack & Loraine manage a large blueberry pollination business in Nova Scotia. Their son Chris manages a pollination outfit near Welland, Ont. Scott is a hobbyist beekeeper at Star City, SK. His son Morgan works for Chris at Welland. Cam has bees near Pontrilas, SK.
In 1978 W. Robert Hamilton updated the Northern Blossoms design to include Metric, French, and UPC bar code labeling requirements. Rob continues to package Northern Blossoms Honey.
Andrew Hamilton moved to Regina, SK in 2008, & has started a bee farm there. He has been President of the Regina Bee Club & promotes beekeeping at the Regina Fair Booth. He mentors new beekeepers, sells beeswax, honey, queens & Nucleus colonies. GPS location 50.590235, -104.573961
Richard Gane’s grandson Dave has Super Dave’s honey northeast of Nipawin.