History of Northern Blossoms Brand Honey

Robert (Bob) Hamilton came to Canada in 1910 from Garelochead, 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. 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 years the bees averaged near the 180 pound mark. In the early years the bees would be overwintered in a root cellar, and the basement of 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 tipped over.  Package bees were also imported from California, and arrived by train in the 1940’s, or by truck in the 50’s, until the 1980’s.  When Bob was asked what the greatest invention to beekeeping was he replied “The rubber tire”- because previously bee hives were transported on horse drawn wagons.  When the wooden wheel hit a bump, the bees would pour out, sting the horses, and they would gallop off.  When asked what the worst thing was for beekeeping was, he replied “ The rubber tire” because it contributed to the spread of disease, etc.

In 1923 Toni Mack, of Lumsden. John Hubbard, and Robert Hamilton 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 he ran an 800 colony bee operation.

In 1946, with the help of Grant & Dunn; Bob started a packing line; packaging Northern Blossom Honey

William I. Hamilton started Hamilton's Bee Ranch in Nipawin. SK. in 1954, purchasing the bee outfit, Clover Apiaries, from Sarkisian & Craik.

Bob & Bill both packed Northern Blossoms Brand honey from 1957-59; with the head office in Aylsham. Bob passed away in 1962.

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

Bill & Kath’s 4 sons are involved in Beekeeping.  Jack & Loraine manage a large blueberry pollination business in Nova Scotia.  Scott is a hobbyist beekeeper at Star City.  Cam had bees in the Aylsham area.

In 1978 W. Robert Hamilton updated the Northern Blossoms design to include Metric, French, and UPC bar code labeling requirements. Rob currently operates 200 hives in the Codette & Regina areas and continues to package Northern Blossoms Honey with his son Andrew.

Andrew Hamilton moved to Regina, SK in 2008, & currently operates 200 colonies.  He has been President of the Regina Bee Club & promotes beekeeping at the Regina Fair Booth. He mentors new beekeepers, sells beeswax, honey, queens & Nuc colonies.     GPS location Link 50.590235, -104.573961

Family History in Beekeeping:

Bill & Kath’s grandsons Christopher & Morgan are also beekeepers near Welland Port, Ontario.  They raise bees for Blueberry pollination.

Bob’s  brother , William Hamilton,  of  Bishopthorpe,  Scottland, wrote the book “The Art of Beekeeping” in 1945.  He taught beekeeping at Yorkshire Institute, at University of Leeds, and at The West of Scotland Ag. College.

Williams nephew Graham Hamilton also has bees.