Editor’s note: The Park Rapids Enterprise welcomes a new outdoors columnist, Chiara and Travis Bolton. This is their inaugural beekeeping column.
We are honored to be asked to write a monthly column about our beekeeping business in our hometown newspaper.
Travis Bolton, youngest son of Eileen and Dennis Bolton (Hubbard Prairie Bean Company), grew up in Park Rapids. Travis has a degree in fisheries and wildlife, can beautifully tile and perform many other home-remodeling tasks, loves deer hunting and fishing, plays great guitar in an original psych-rock band, has a giant beard and, in my opinion, is a true northerner.
I, Chiara (pronounced KEY-are-a), grew up in the Twin Cities in a big family romanticizing the idea of living on a farm. I have been fortunate enough to travel and live all over the world. I have two master’s degrees (neither of which I am using) and can speak Mandarin Chinese. I love the outdoors.
I am thankful that Travis and I met, fell in love, and got married five years ago. Our honey house is in Menahga, and we live there with our bee cat, Yarrow.
Our company, Bolton Bees, sells raw, location-specific honey and Minnesota-hardy starter colonies. We have hives in Sebeka, Akeley, Midway and around the Twin Cities. The honey from each location is extracted separately. The honeys naturally have unique flavors, colors, and textures because of the blooming trees and flowers in the area. Molly Poppins (Park Rapids), Loide' Oils & Vinegars (Bemidji, Nisswa, Walker), Terrapin Station (Nevis) and A Clean Plate (Menahga) all sell Bolton Bees honey.
We overwinter our hives in Minnesota. We raise queens from hives that have survived our long, cold winters. The starter colonies are listed for sale on our website: www.boltonbees.com.
Our hopes for this column
Every month we want to give you a glimpse into our beekeeping world. This is our livelihood. We eat, sleep, and dream about bees. Not only will you learn about beekeeping, but you will also learn about the joys and obstacles of being a small business owner.
We only sell what our hives produce. This means that we have to create markets and opportunities to sell our products. We are also, like so many families in Minnesota, farmers, meaning we are completely dependent on events totally out of our control (like the weather).
We finished wrapping our hives for winter and won’t be opening them again until spring. In the next issue, I will go over specifics of how we prepared our hives for winter.
We prepared for our largest selling time of the year. We make the majority of our income during the holiday months. Customers are gifting jars of honey or hives to loved ones. The money earned now carries our business during the summer months.
Main obstacle: Our lid company was late with their delivery. This delayed our ability to jar honey (since you need lids on the jars!). We had to place a rush order from another company, then quickly jar honey as to meet our distributors’ first holiday order of the season. Mission accomplished: Grocery stores in the cities are well stocked with our Bolton Bees honey.
We wish you a happy and safe holiday season!
Bolton Bees can be reached at www.boltonbees.com or email@example.com.