Kraus Honey Company : Fruitland
The bees created this light, floral honey by visiting the blooms of both Snowberries and Fireweed. The result is a delightful honey which blends with foods ranging from light teas and fish to dark British tea and kale. This is truly a honey that goes well with everything. During honey production, the hives are located between the Huckleberry Mountains and the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. The mix of flowers changes yearly. No pesticides or antibiotics are used in the hives.
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 nearly 1,000 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 year we 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 Bruster and Bridgport for apples and other fruit. As summer progresses, they settle in Washington’s Columbia River Valley where in 2013 the snowberry blooms overtook the usual mix of vetch, sweet clover, fireweed, and “millions of little wildflowers.”
“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.”