Manzer Apiary Inc. – Building Better Beehives

How many busy brothers does it take to build a better beehive? It depends of which Manzer brother you ask. Brian and Owen Manzer are the brains behind the E-Z Hive, a modified top bar beehive that has caught the attention of researchers and hobby beekeepers alike. When Brian spoke with Spotlight on Business Magazine, I couldn’t help noticing that the origin story of the E-Z hive and Manzer Apiary Inc. in Digby, Nova Scotia shares a distinct similarity with a famous page in the history of science.

It is likely that Isaac Newton exaggerated that whole apple story. Or at least history has. There is no evidence in his personal writings to suggest that he ever came under attack from falling apples, but it is enduringly amusing that the man responsible for making us all learn those formulas in school took a ripe Flower of Kent apple to the noggin. It was a young friend of Newton’s, William Stukeley, who included the now famous account in a posthumous biography.

The Manzer’s story invokes Newton’s in perhaps setting alone, but it wonderfully sets up the scene of a 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,” he explained.

Brian worked closely with Owen on design for the better part of a decade before the brothers entered their innovative beehive in Innovacorp’s I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition in 2015. They placed second in Zone 3 (Digby, Annapolis, Kings and Hants Counties), taking home a cool $25,000 in cash $15,000 in support and services.

But the brothers didn’t rest on their laurels.

When we spoke with Brian they had just completed a year of field trials which were conducted by Acadia University and the results were very positive.

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. And that’s not good considering that pollinators like bees make possible every one in three bites of food consumed.   

The gravity of this situation – Newton aside – has created two distinct markets that Manzer Apiary serves with their beehives: The commercial pollination industry and organic garden hobbyists.

“The E-Z Hive is, as the name suggests, the easiest beehive on the market today to manage and operate. What’s 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, but 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. What’s more, this beehive is designed to overwinter outside naturally. This removes 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. I haven’t lost a colony since I perfected the design.”

The E-Z Hive goes for $549 CDN ($425 USD) on the Manzer Apiary Inc. website and sales have been solid for the hive, according to Brian.

“We’ve also developed a smaller version of the E-Z-Hive to service the commercial pollination industry. This little guy is the same as the original beehive only smaller and easier to move from orchard to orchard. We call it the PolliPod. This beehive can also be used as a backyard starter hive, too.”

The E-Z Hive goes for $329 CDN ($255 USD) according to the Manzer Apiary Inc. where you can also find many bee keeping products.

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.” 

As their tenure in research and development attests, the Manzer brothers are proponents of informed actions. “If you are a novice beekeeper or are thinking of becoming a backyard beekeeper, we’d certainly suggest that you research the art of beekeeping. We have offered training sessions on the use and operation of our modified top bar beehive. For a beginner, this is the easiest beehive to train on and to operate. We encourage everyone to become a beekeeper today. After the end of July it’s too late to load a new hive for the season,” Brian explained.

Brian also went on to say, “If you are thinking of becoming a beekeeper, please start today and help save our precious partner.” He also mentioned that you can visit their website at Manzerapiary.com for more information for bee keeper and to get everything that you need to get started.”

By David MacDonald