Written by: Anne Ladouceur
I always find out the most interesting things when I talk to the vendors for these profiles and my conversation with Zdenka Cukor was no different. In this case, it was a story of honey and romance.
Zdenka, who had studied veterinary medicine in Croatia, had a life-long interest in Bee-Biology and Bee Pathology. While attending the Apimondia International Bee Congress in Vancouver, she met Vladimir, a geologist who shared her passion for honey bees. A year later, she returned to Canada to marry Vlad. When he retired, Vlad devoted himself full-time to their apiary winning 6 Golden Spoons in international honey competition in Europe.
In her Bee Yard, Zdenka extracts and bottles the honey. She mentioned that she follows all hygiene rules to produce a high quality unpasteurised honey free of additives, colour and added fragrance. It’s what the bees eat that determines the flavour and colour. A diet of clover and alfalfa produces a mild light coloured product, while berries and wild flowers result in amber honey. Honey with a higher glucose content (from dandelions, berries, fruit trees) hardens faster than that with more fructose (wild flowers). Honey will stay liquid as long it doesn’t get cold.
Vlad passed away 5 years ago and as Zdenka put it, “Three people work at the apiary now – Me, Myself and I” but she says that keeping busy with the bees and honey has helped her recover from her loss.
The apiary is facing some special challenges at the moment. Because it’s been so hot and dry this summer, plants have not produced enough nectar to feed the bees. Well-nourished bees can protect the entrance of the hive, but weak ones cannot and so the wasp get in and kill off the whole hive. Within a week, Zdenka lost 7 of her 150 hives to wasp invasions.
Vlad’s Apiary usually comes to the Coquitlam market every two weeks and will also be at the Port Moody Winter Farmers Market.