Tim Wendell, Founder and Owner of Wendell Estate Honey, accepting the Fred Rathje Memorial Award.

Tim Wendell Receives National Award for Beekeeping Contributions

The Canadian National Beekeeping Convention and Tradeshow was held in Calgary, Alberta  from February 8-10, 2024. On Thursday evening, February 8th,  there was a mixer for Canadian Honey Council members. The next two days of scientific and educational programming saw hallways and conference rooms packed with over 250 registered attendees from across the country!  The Scientific presentations were mixed with panel discussions aimed at key issues facing the Canadian beekeeping industry.

Attending a Convention like this is one of Tim’s favourite things to do during the winter months: Learning from colleagues, meeting old friends and acquaintances, making new friends and acquaintances and, best of all, talking bees and honey with everyone! (here’s a brief video of Tim talking about a lifetime of beekeeping.)  But, this time he was in for a surprise.

Tim attended the Friday evening banquet.  After the banquet there were some speeches and some award presentations.  As Jake Berg, Canadian Honey Council chair and Saskatchewan delegate took the stage to present the Fred Rathje Memorial Award for outstanding efforts in contributing to improving the country’s beekeeping industry, Tim was focusing on his dessert and trying to figure out who Jake was talking about.  I wasn’t there so Jake was kind enough to share his presentation speech with me.  Jake says that he took most of his speech from the nomination submitted by Stan Reist, (find his bio here – scroll down a bit) a forward-thinking Nanaimo B.C beekeeper who very actively supports the Canadian beekeeping industry.  Unfortunately Stan was unable to attend this convention due to ill health.

Honouring Tim's Beekeeping Contributions

Here is the award presentation speech:

“Tim has been dedicated to improving the beekeeping industry. He has always graciously volunteered his time and efforts to serve beekeeping in Saskatchewan and beyond. Tim has always been generous, sharing ideas and experiences with other beekeepers.  With his ample experiences and fearless willingness to try new things, he has vast amounts of knowledge to share. He has spent many hours in meetings, giving presentations and in person passing on the successful ideas and techniques to help other beekeepers.  This knowledge has helped to ensure a progressive, positive industry in Saskatchewan and beyond”.

[Maybe about here Tim’s table mates started saying to him, “He’s talking about you!”]

Tim Wendell (right), Founder & Owner, Wendell Estate Honey, speaking at a beekeeping conference.
Tim Wendell - right - speaking at a beekeeping conference

“Tim has also been a very active member of the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Association (SBA).  He was president for 8 of the 14 years that he spent on the SBA board of directors.  During his time on the SBA, he was a driving force behind changes in the industry.  He was instrumental in addressing many challenges the beekeeping industry faced over the years.  These challenges include optimizing business risk programs like the Net Income Stabilization Account (NISA) to make the program work for beekeepers, representing Saskatchewan on national committees and working groups like importing queens from the United States, and so much more.

Honey bee research has always been near and dear to Tim.  He has donated money, time, effort, bees and equipment; however, while he was president, Tim realized that more was needed, and what was needed was a commission. Tim led the initiative but worked with many others to establish the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission (SBDC). The main goals of the commission are to better support promotion of the industry and research.  The legacy of this commission has been vast, enhanced support of many research programs, establishing the Saskatchewan Tech Adaptation Team to work directly on applied research projects, and more have all been offshoots from the implementation of the SBDC.”

Prominent Beekeeper at a Loss for Words

Fred Rathje Memorial Award for outstanding efforts into improving the Canadian beekeeping industry. Presented by the Canadian Honey Council
Fred Rathje Memorial Award for outstanding efforts into improving the Canadian beekeeping industry. Presented by the Canadian Honey Council

Fred Rathje, A Passionate Beekeeper

And who was Fred Rathje, the man that this memorial award was named after?  Fred became interested in beekeeping and packing honey in the early 1940’s.  He was well known in the Canadian honey industry for his enthusiasm and love of anything pertaining to honey.  As manager of the Central Alberta Dairy Pool’s honey division at Bassano Alberta he gained respect from beekeepers.  Fred served as the Canadian Honey Council’s executive Secretary Treasure from 1975 – 1982.  It is said that in the eyes of those who knew him, to receive the Fred Rathje award would be an outstanding honour.

Tim Wendell, Founder and Owner of Wendell Estate Honey, doing what he loves most, checking his bees
Tim Wendell, Founder and Owner of Wendell Estate Honey, doing what he loves most, checking his bees

Congratulations, Tim, on this outstanding honour.

If you want to try some of Tim's award-winning Wendell Estate Honey...

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