Written by Émélie Bernier  

The beautiful flowery van of Virginie Tardif and Vincent Philippe-Picard, founders of Melifera, makes heads turn wherever it goes. Aboard their beekeeping school on wheels, they travel more than 2,500 km every two weeks to visit their clients and their beehives - more than thirty apprentice beekeepers scattered across the province!

"Some of our customers have dairy farms, some have vegetable farms, and then we also work with individuals. Not everyone necessarily has a big piece of land, but everyone uses it well."

When we met them in Baie-Saint-Paul, Virginie and Vincent were enjoying a rare moment of respite: "We came to bring beehives to a few clients in the region and we decided to take a little break because the summer will be very hectic," laughs Virginie. The bubbly young woman is quick to add that a dream summer of browsing in several regions awaits them: "When you do what you love, you don't feel like you're working".

She was the first to try her hand at the world of bees: "I was a photographer in Montreal, a very competitive environment where it was difficult to make a name for myself. It was a friend who told me about the Alvéole urban beekeeping project. Curious, but lacking experience in the field, I applied anyway and got the job. It was love at first sight! When you discover the world of bees, it's a love story for life that begins", she tells us. "When I met Virginie, all she talked about was bees, it was almost an obsession! As soon as we had a bit of land, we set up hives. On my side, I was an outdoor enthusiast with a background in natural sciences. Discovering the world of bees was really fascinating for me," explains Vincent.

"We had been thinking about starting our own business for a long time. One day, a former colleague from Alvéole gave us a dozen hives, and a week later, one of my father's colleagues wanted to get rid of a whole bunch of beekeeping equipment. That's when I thought, 'Life is talking to me,'" Virginie says, laughing. Then in 2019, Melifera is born, the first nomadic beekeeping school in Quebec, and maybe even in the world! "If it exists elsewhere, we don't know about it," says the pair, in a complicit way. With the idea barely sketched out, Melifera was already offering training in beekeeping with home visits every two weeks as well as teaching on hive installation until wintering and all the other steps leading to honey extraction.




*Adapted for online, read the full article in the third edition of Growers & Co. Magazine