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Harmony in Honey: An Interview with MOB Honey's Founder Amber Yano

Beekeeper Amber Yano on her farm

Near the town of Bassano lies a hidden gem, a local business that embodies passion, creativity, and a commitment to sustainable living. In our latest interview, we delve into the story of Amber Yano, the woman behind MOB Honey. We uncover the daily rhythms of life on her farm, Lazy Lilac Acres, and the diverse range of products she cultivates with care. As we learn about her journey, you'll discover more than just a local business owner. Amber has created a community hub, fostering collaborations with other local companies and inviting likeminded people to learn with her. Join us on this journey as we shine a spotlight on the unique spirit and offerings of MOB Honey, a testament to the vibrant tapestry of our local business community.

Can you tell us what a typical day is like for you on your farm?
It sounds cliché but waking up early with the birds to watch the sun rise between the trees in my property is a nice activity, especially when the winter trees are covered in rhyme frost. Making sure I have a cup of coffee or chicory root to start my day and then tackle the duties here. I have a never-ending compost pile that needs to be turned every second day. We use a compost fork and try to avoid any heavy machinery on the land. The chickens need to be fed, watered, and let out daily. The holiday season is a blessing in that it keeps me busy packing honey orders, labeling jars and hand delivering the orders once or twice a week. The drive from the farm to Calgary is 1.5 hours so that takes up a lot of time. I make my honey blends and infusions in small batches so a lot of thought and care goes into that craft. I always have projects on the go as I am very crafty so there will be a few new products added to the online farm store shortly.

Beekeeper Amber Yano inspecting a frame

Apart from MOB Honey, what else do you produce on your farm?
Aside from my apiary in the back acre I produce eggs, vegetables, ferments, and skincare products. I haven’t published anything other than honey yet because perfecting the craft is of the highest importance to me. For vegetables, there is a lot of pest pressure for us due to the big ag [large agricultural corporations] landscape that surrounds us but we are diligent in our regenerative nature, meaning no pesticides, no digging, and encouraging the growth of native plants. It’s important to note that I would never sell my eggs at a price lower than those of organic/regenerative chicken farmers. They put a lot of money and time into ethically raising hens–and I know they struggle in the market when every hobby farmer sells their eggs for a fraction of the price. It undercuts the hard work of ethical farmers and it’s not fair to those whose livelihoods depend on those sales as opposed to those who just want to make an extra buck. It’s something for us as consumers to consider anyway. One day we want goats to help fill the dairy void and fill our bellies with goat milk and cheese.

Before Lazy Lilac Acres, what kept you busy?
It feels like a lifetime ago but I used to be very engaged in the arts and music scene in Calgary. Getting my BFA from ACAD (now called AUARTS) allowed me the opportunity to be part of a burgeoning art scene and I’ve always been interested in local musicians. Some Calgary greats to name a few include Cold Water, Selci, Amy Nelson, Ryan Bourne, and pretty much anything Chris Dadge is involved in.

Beekeeping duties

Can you tell us more about The Hive at East Village? How did that project come about?
I love the Hive in the East Village. It’s been such a great tool in the community to connect with families and individuals curious about bees. These events are published on Eventbrite a week before each summer tour. When the EV had the shipping container market where The Bounce is now, I had a little boutique honey shop in the market. The year after they closed the container market I heard the East Village wanted to get beehives so I jumped on the opportunity and sent in a proposal to one of the events coordinators. They’ve been loyal to MOB Honey for six years now.

We love that you share your personal experiments online, whether they're successful or not. It looks like we can expect to see candles and salves on your website soon. What are you excited to work on next?
That's right! I am so serious when I say this, why haven’t I done this sooner?! My skin has never felt so nourished in the winter months before. The recipe I’m tweaking is almost perfected and I can not wait to share the salve with all the “MOBsters” out there. The candles are still a work in progress but I still need to sample a few more wicks for the burn to be pure, safe, resourceful, and elegant. I’d like to add apple cider vinegar, fire cider, and so many seasonal vegetables. I’ve been fermenting black garlic for the honey but sold as an add-on would be nice for my clientele. Now that I have this property, the world is my oyster so to speak. It is my lab for creation, my sanctuary for bee tours, and a very good example of what soil in this area can look like when you add the right methods of land management.

Amber Yano with her bees on Lazy Lilac Acres

We see that you've partnered with beloved local companies like Pizzaface, Sidewalk Citizen, and Hoopla. Where else can we find your products? Can you tell us about any future collaborations?
There are so many but the B&M [brick and mortar] companies I have the strongest bond to are Euphoria Cafe, Lemonceillo, Avenida Mercantile, and The Alex. Online and gift box companies that may fly under the radar are women-owned businesses like Blondie Basket, Kre8tive Karma, and The Onyx Box. All of these owners have been true champions of my passion for bees and ethical food. Next year I plan to partner with ABC Bees who is a beekeeping educator in Calgary. She’ll have access to my hives and I’ll have access to her knowledge. There are some delicate techniques in queen rearing and Integrated Pest Management strategies that she understands very well. It’s a great way for us to leverage our community and pool our resources. That project is expected to happen at Calgary's Highfield Regenerative Farm.

If you'd like to learn more about Amber's journey, follow @mobhoney on Instagram and check out our giveaway!

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