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Ski jumper Abigail Strate getting a buzz out of working with bees

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Abigail Strate is a member of the Canadian national ski jumping team.

In her sport, the Olympic bronze medallist flies through the air with the greatest of ease.

On Tuesday, the 23-year-old put aside her ski jumping suit for a bee suit.

Strate is a certified beekeeper.

"We have a bit of property out in Springbank and we had chickens for a few years and I've always been interested in bees," she said.

"I think they're really cool and found it fascinating. Went and did a course and started up some hives."

Nickname is Bee

Strate and her dad took the course and became certified beekeepers over a weekend.

Strate's nickname is "Bee" and she even has bee stickers on her ski jumping equipment.

She says the stickers remind her to relax and smile, even in the most intense competitions.

"I think that followed the Bee nickname," she said.

"I have a coach that calls me that and I have a bee on my ski and a bee on my suit.

"I was just saying that I have about 300 stickers printed out every year and I just stick them all over the place.

"I don't know how much other people like that but I think it's funny every once in a while."

Learning from each other

On this day, Strate was at Honey Meadows Farm.

It's a much larger operation.

Strate learned a lot from owner Jon Zwiers but he says he was also able to get great advice from the Olympian.

"I really appreciated what she said about being able to keep your calm in tense situations," Zwiers said.

"I find sometimes, with our work, too, keeping a cool head is good," he said.

"When you have bees circling you at all hours, that's a good reminder to stay calm."

Similarities

Strate says she gets an adrenalin rush being a ski jumper in the winter and she gets an adrenalin rush being around the bees when they're buzzing around her head.

She says the similarities don't end there.

"I have had our team compared a little bit to a hive situation, where we're all trying to work toward the same goals," she said.

"I wouldn't say there's a queen bee but if I had to pick one, it would be our head coach. He's the boss at the end of the day but we all work together and that's what a hive does as well."

This may be a downtime from ski jumping but Strate likes to stay busy.

Besides working with her dad on the bee-keeping operation, she is also studying graphic design online at the Toronto Film School.

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