Brookfield Farm is pleased to bring you :
Independence Valley Wildflower Raw Honey: High 5 Bees, Rochester, WA
Independence Valley Wildflower Raw Honey, from Hive 5 Bees, carries the complex floral notes of this rolling, rural land. In spring and summer, an ever changing array of wildflowers stretch from the banks of the Chehalis River and Independence Creek throughout the valley, and up into forested hills. Blackberry, big leaf maple, self-heal, thistle, and dandelion may all make an appearance. The mix changes yearly depending on the weather. (prices and availability here)
This bucolic land of wild spaces and family farms, just 22 miles south of Olympia in western Washington, is near the town of Rochester, where the apiary is based.
Hive 5 Bees (High5Bees.com), run by Kevin and Amanda Mills, is a diverse company that offers delightful raw honey (retail and wholesale), farmers market booths, pollination services and nucleus hives in the spring.
The couple are committed to naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives. They use both oxalic and formic acid treatments which are derived from substances naturally found in bee hives. “Almond pollination brings a whole new dynamic to beekeeping,” Kevin explains. Over the last few years the viruses have become more prevalent and they can be exacerbated with so many bees down there…”
Kevin’s background in pollination began at a young age: he started his first hives at the age of 13 in Winnipeg, Canada. “I always loved bees. I used to walk around with bumblebees when I was five or six years old. My father told me to wait until I was 13 to get bees,” Kevin says. He later went on to work in a operation that ran more than 4,500 hives. “I worked four to five years in their operation. We did canola, clover, sunflowers…at that scale, it’s completely different.”
Today, Kevin and Amanda run around 200 hives. Hive 5 Bees has been their joint project for five years. “When I told her I wanted to get into bees, there was some concern. I had wanted to get back into beekeeping, and when we moved out here in 2014 it was the time. It was only supposed to be three hives, by the end of summer I had nine. Then we had good overwintering success.”
Together they have continued to grow their operation by splitting colonies. Their bees are a mix: Italian and New World Carniolans. His inclination is to raise genetically diverse, dark colored bees. “I’m not a queen breeder,” Kevin explains, “but I raise my own queens. It’s the difference between a classically trained musician, and someone who plays guitar.”
“I’m not exactly sure how big we’re going to get,” Kevin continues. “Anything beyond 800 hives you have to look at full time help. If I’m involved in something, it has to be growing, progressing. The first goal would be around 800-900 mark: a full semi load.”
Whether it be a few hives or 800, Kevin finds joy in his work: “The best thing about beekeeping is the peace and the beauty of working with bees.”
One might note that High 5 Bees is also “The Pacific Northwest Honey Company” – Kevin and I laugh about this. The businesses are not connected in any way, but should we be confused we figure Brookfield Farm (PacificNorthwestHoney.com) and High 5 Bees will be happy to direct folks to the apiary they are seeking.