Sweet as Honey - Make a Bee-line to Lac La Biche
Buzzing envelops us as Rob Wicker holds out a panel of his honeybee hives for us to see. There, in front of us, are a handful of worker bees, ignoring us as they work away on their honeycomb. Wonder overpowers us all.
Normally, the primal reaction to loud buzzing and swarming bees is to flee. But suited up like spacemen and comforted by Wicker’s expert handling, we are all calm as we tour the hives at Christy Creek Honey, in Lac La Biche region.
Most impressive, though, is three-year-old Kalyna Patenaude. Rapt with fascination, she walks right up to Rob, listening and watching intently. Easton and Vienna, her older siblings, are close behind her.
In a day filled with adventure, from bike rides by the beach to a visit to the Lac La Biche Farmers’ Market, this is one of the moments that will crystallize in memory. The feeling of discovery draws in both the children and their parents.
Watching the kids up close with the bees is especially poignant for Danielle Cardinal, given her own instinctive reaction to bees. And yet, somehow, she too is able to override the natural response and just be present.
“I felt just very in the moment, I felt a sense of calmness,” she said after the buzzing encounter. “Seeing my kids, knowing they were happy and learning something new, I was just living in the moment, and not worrying.”
There is something about the bees’ hum that does seem to evoke a meditative clarity.
“We learned a lot from the honey farm,” Cardinal says. “We’re a blended family so making memories like this is so important. We can add this to our memory list now.”
Rural hospitality is at its finest at Christy Creek. Rope swings hang under the labyrinthian beech tree, there’s a flowery meadow where you can go on a scavenger hunt to identify the bees’ sources of nectar and long wooden picnic tables with white tablecloths laden with iced tea, berries, fresh scones and honey. Christy Creek honey is a local delicacy, and its pure golden sweetness adds a taste of airy lightness to the scones.
Visit the farm and you can suit up for your own beekeeping experience, or visit the shop, where you can stock up on the sweet goodness of their honey products.
As the day warms, the family is drawn to the beach at McArthur Park, a centrally located recreation space on the waterfront in Lac La Biche. Outfitters Aniwye Adventures have opened a shop there, renting various watercraft and sporting gear, including bikes.
From the beach at McArthur Park cycling trails connect in every direction, stretching one way out to the Lac La Biche Mission, and the other out to Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park.
After a spin around the beachfront trails, the family stops in at the Lac La Biche Farmer’s Market, one of Cardinal’s regular weekly stops. The market is open Fridays from 3 - 6 pm, making it a great option to stock up for a weekend of regional adventure.
“I’m a loyal customer of Livingstone Acres, one of our local florists, I know she has a booth there, so that’s the primary reason I like to go,” Cardinal admits. “But I like to shop local, and encourage others too as well.”
On the way back to the beachfront, we pass Lac La Biche’s food truck, The Mill Bakery. With all the busyness of the day, it’s too much to pass up. The hot, salty, soft pretzels and cold drinks go down way too easily, but then, as Cardinal already pointed out, there are times you have to just live in the moment.
Which is why, when all the adventuring is done, the family makes a beeline (pun intended) back to the beach at McArthur Park. Summers in Alberta are short and the best way to make the most of them is to live in the moment, and of course, take it to the lake.
WHEN YOU GO
Share what you find when you #TakeItToTheLake this summer, using the hashtag and you might be featured on ZenSeekers and/or our partners' social media channels.
Parkland Motel is located across from the water in Lac La Biche and makes a great option for accommodations when you #TakeItToTheLake. Check it out and see why they come recommended.
Video produced by ZenSeekers and Edmonton's Viva Voce Group and all images produced by ZenSeekers and Indigenous photographer, Canmore based Angus Cockney. Additional images by Jeremy Derksen.