When we hear about declining bee populations in the news, and you think who should we bee calling? Well, Brian and Owen Manzer, the founders of Manzer Apiary Incand the brains behind the E-Z Hive, a modified top bar beehive, have already answered the call and are capturing the attention of researchers and hobby beekeepers alike. Spotlight on Business Magazine spoke with Manzer brothers about their knowledge-based start-up success story – one that has the potential to make a positive global impact (not to mention an impact on Digby County’s future).
“Manzer Apiary Inc. was formally established in 2015, but the whole idea for the E-Z Hive began 8 years prior. My brother Owen – who is also my business partner – decided to keep bees to pollinate his hobby plum orchard. His greatest challenge seemed to be keeping the bees alive, especially when it came to overwintering them. He assumed the problem was the type of hive he was using, so he decided to do some research. He researched the top bar model – I believe, the oldest types of artificial beehive – and began making modifications. This is how the prototype was born,” Brian explained.
The interest shown in the E-Z Hive is not at all surprising to the matter-of-fact Manzers. “Bee mortality seems to be on the rise wherever you look,” Brian said. That is not good news considering that pollinators like bees make one in every three bites of food consumed possible, so pretty simple less bees then less food, even we can do the math on that one.
The E-Z Hive is, as the name suggests, an easy beehive to manage and operate even for a novice. But what is most important is that it’s a sustainable and manageable home for the bees. It has an observation window on the side where the bees can be monitored without opening the beehive and this lessens the stress on the bee colony. There is also a unique ventilation system that we have installed that allows the bees to control the humidity in the beehive. The ventilation holes on the top and the entrance holes are covered by sliding screens which the bees will cover with wax when they get cold and then remove when they need more air. The insulated cover is hinged, making it very easy to access and there are no heavy parts to lift. The beehive is designed to overwinter outside naturally, this eliminated the need to store hive parts. The success I’ve personally experienced and its success in controlled trials in overwintering will make this beehive a leader in sustaining bee life.”
Innovation plays a big part of the design process for Manzer Apiary Inc and after completing a year of field trials which were conducted by Acadia University and the results were very positive, but the Manzer brothers knew that they could make the E-Z hive better.
So, they made some modifications to better yet a better beehive. The top bars used to have sticks that hung down from them. Originally their reason for doing this was to make the comb more stable, but they found that it made cutting the honeycomb off the top bar more difficult.
So, they removed them and increased the length of the part of the top bar that the bees build on allowing the combs to attach well and make it simple to cut the entire comb off to get the honey.
They also removed the plywood inside the cover and made a couple other modifications to the EZ Hive. The functioning remains the same, but costs were reduced and they have passed these savings on to their customers, reducing the price of the modified hive from $649.99 down to $549.00.
The majority of E-Z Hives are being sold in Nova Scotia with a few sold in New Brunswick and PEI. Being active on social media has helped them to reach more people than they could doing travelling to trade shows or by going to farmers markets and exhibitions. They offer lots of information on their website and are active on Facebook and Instagram.
They also offer beekeeping equipment such as suits, hats, jackets, gloves, tools, and honey harvesting kits. With Manzer’s top bar beehives you do not need to purchase an expensive extractor which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. This is because with top bar beehives the bees do not build comb on foundations.
Theyreceive emails and phone calls from people all across Canada and even the U.S. who are interested in their product, there new challenge is finding affordable shipping to these potential customers, but in saying that their E-Z Hives have made its way into the U.S. and one even as gone as far as the Northwest Territories. They see this as a tremendous growth opportunity for the business moving forward.
In Nova Scotia, the Bee Industry Act and Regulations, as well as a host of local bylaws, have made beekeeping and hobby beekeeping easier in response to rising bee mortality.
If you are thinking you might want to see what all the buzz is about, know that you are not alone.
“With the E-Z Hive we have seen a move back to beekeeping by people that at one time were prominent beekeepers, mainly because of the ease of use. There’s no heavy lifting and the overall design has made beekeeping become interesting again. We have had overwhelming interest from novice beekeepers who thought beekeeping was difficult until they researched this beehive. Many have taken up the hobby for various reasons: to pollinate their small fruit orchard, to have natural honey and beeswax, or just to assist in creating bee life. We are seeing a shift by many individuals to producing their own food source as opposed to market shopping and the bee is the basis of food growth. This beehive is a perfect fit for this type of operation.”
If you are a novice beekeeper or are thinking of becoming a backyard beekeeper, Brian would certainly suggest that you research the art of beekeeping. Plus Manzer Apiary Inc also offers beekeeping courses in the spring and fall. They are each a three-hour course explaining the basics of bees and beekeeping with the EZ Hive.
Brian also went on to say, “If you are thinking of becoming a beekeeper, please start today and help save our precious partner.”
You can visit their website at manzerapiary.com for more information for beekeeping and to get everything that you need to get started.
by Jamie Barrie