MOREWOOD — There’s a buzz in the air about Smirlholm Farms.
Glenn Smirle and his millions of bees are working in harmony to produce honey that is hard to keep kid’s fingers out of (literally).
So how did the Morewood man go from a dairy farmer to bee keeper? Well that’s an interesting story.
Glenn knew he wanted to be a farmer since he was knee-high and chasing after his grandpa in the fields. The over 300 acres he calls home was purchased back in 1940.
“My grandparents bought the original 100 acres with the barn – which still stands today – and the house for $8,000,” explains Glenn. “They told me at different times that it was a lot of money back then, but they paid for everything within two years.”
His grandparents had four children — three daughters and one son (Bill, Glenn’s dad) — but none of the kids wanted to take over the farm. Bill committed his working life to education, first as a teacher and then principal.
“I grew up right over there,” Glenn notes, pointing to the house a stone’s throw from the farm. “I was at the farm all the time and knew from early on that farming was what I wanted to do with my life.”
He was 15-years-old when his grandpa passed away and a hired man was brought in to keep the farm going until Glenn was old enough to take over. He went off to university and came home in 1991 to get started with the dairy operation, launching a 30-year farming career with no end in sight.
In the fall of 2016, Glenn decided it was time for a change and sold off his 40 head of cattle to start a new venture — apiary management.
“It was a difficult day,” says Glenn, when describing the auction. “I’ve always been good with animals and livestock…I like the crops, but working with the animals is what I love.”
Bees have become a new and growing passion of Glenn’s, since establishing his first hives in 2017.
“Bees are fascinating creatures,” he notes. “Pollinators in general are so important.”
From one hive, he grew his honey business into two bee yards and millions upon millions of honey bees gracing his land with their magical ability to produce food and the sweetest nectar known to man.
“Every day, I am learning more about bees — like how many different types of bees there are in this area,” says Glenn, pointing out a rusty bumblebee on a nearby sunflower.
He explains that bees navigate using the sun and dance to communicate with each other. Glenn also touches on the unique roles that form the social structures of the hive: from the drones who do nothing but mate and eat, to the queen who is the center of the hive’s universe, and the workers who risk their lives to go collect the pollen to make the honey.
“I could watch the bees all day, but I’m too busy working,” he jokes.
Glenn has gone above and beyond to give his bees the best life possible, including planting wildflower plots that are breathtaking in the summer, and lining his fields with sunflowers.
But he isn’t stopping there. Glenn has big plans in the works and hopes people from throughout North Dundas will take the time to come check out the Smirlholm Farms Honey operation.