Roger and Cathy Desilets have been learning about the secret life of bees for almost thirty years. They started with 25 hives and now operate about 60 colonies along the Riding Mountain National Park, producing honey mostly from organic crops, raising queens from their best breeding stock and continually learning how best to prevent losses in the winter. Their steadfast dedication and energy for small-scale bee-keeping has given way to opportunities involving the sweet stuff, creating a multi-product business for them and their family.
Cathy and Roger moved to the area of Oakburn in 1983 and started a market garden and greenhouse in addition to their bees. After one growing season they decided to focus on the latter two of the three, putting the majority of their energy into bee-keeping. In the early 1990s, while attending craft shows, they met a bee-keeper and candlemaker from England who also made skin care products utilizing honey, beeswax, royal jelly and a by-product called propolis, a sticky substance collected by the bees mostly from the buds of balsam poplar. Propolis is known to contain healing properties and has been found to be very effective in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, rosacea as well sunburned skin.
When their friend decided to retire, he invited Roger and Kathy to learn first-hand how to manufacture the skin care products. He eventually gifted them with his business. The couple has continued to attend craft shows, bringing with them their honey, candles and the skin care line. They have built up a customer base that stretches far across Canada. Their products are also carried in select retail outlets.