Kraus Honey Company : Fruitland
Kraus Wildflower Honey is created from the nectar of wildflowers in Washington’s Columbia River Valley. Although mix of flowers changes yearly, the primary blooms harvested by Kraus bees are snowberry, vetch, sweet clover, black locust, and fireweed.
No pesticides or antibiotics are used in the hives. During honey production, the hives are located in areas free of pesticide and herbicides, where coyotes and moose roam.
John and Martha Kraus are the Kraus Honey Company. John’s first foray into beekeeping was in the 1970′s with a few backyard hives. His fascination with bees lead to more and more hives; by the mid-1990′s he and Martha had over 600 hives. They found that to be a manageable number and today maintain between 600 and 700 hives queened by a mixture of Survivor Queens from “Old Sol” in Oregon and Hawaiian Kona Queens.
Martha married into the world of bees. “It was charming when we met. John had 100 hives, or so. I would never have guessed I would be spending my life with bees, but it’s good.” Martha extracts and sells honey while John works with the bees.
“John just loves the bees and is really a good beekeeper. He’s a really independent guy; he has to work for himself. It suits him that way,” Martha explains. “Beekeeping can be intense and focus, other times of years have time to do other things.”
The “intense” times include the movement of the bees for pollination. February finds them in California’s almond groves. They then move to The Dalles for cherries; then on to Brewster and Bridgeport for apples and other fruit. As summer progresses, they settle in Washington’s Columbia River Valley where snowberry, vetch, sweet clover, fireweed, and “millions of little wildflowers” provide the nectar that will be transformed into honey by hundreds of thousands of bees, with each hive working as a unit.
“I like the depth of complexity of the bees lives,” says Martha. “Research keeps showing more and more interesting things: their community, communication, and social structure. They are a cooperative: a single entity that exists as many bees.” An insect cooperative that produces a unique honey from the Columbia River Valley.