Meet the Maker: Bolton Bees
We're so excited to introduce you to our next maker in our Meet the Maker Series!
Meet Travis & Chiara Bolton - the husband and wife duo behind Bolton Bees! If you've seen our latest collection of gifts, then you've probably spotted this sweet local honey in almost all of our newest gift boxes. (What can we say -- it's the perfect summer treat!)
Travis & Chiara specialize in creating bee colonies to withstand our hardy Minnesota winters (a feat in itself). And the raw, natural honey that comes as a result is absolutely delightful.
Today we're sharing our full Q&A with Travis & Chiara so you can find out more about the makers behind our beloved honey!
1. Tell us a little bit about your story! How did you get started?
I first got into beekeeping when I was living in a rural village in Yunnan China. I was working on a rural economic development project with my friend (who grew up in a beekeeping family). The people in the village had wild bees, but did not know how to "keep" bees and to harvest honey.
After I moved back to Minnesota, I wanted to continue keeping bees-- so I had a few hives in my grandparents backyard. Soon after, I met my husband. He quickly became interested in bees too. We learned that it is difficult to keep bees alive in the winter in MN. We started learning how to raise our own queens (we worked for a queen rearing operation) and began breeding from hives that survived our long, cold, northern winters. Through survival of the fittest, we began establishing our growing apiary.
About 4 years ago, we quit our other jobs and began keeping bees full time. We have hives throughout the state of MN. Each location has different flowers and blooming trees, which naturally creates different flavors, textures, and colors of honey. We extract each location separately. We are the beekeepers, we do not purchase other people's honey and repackage it into out own jars. All of our honey is raw without added flavors-- they are naturally unique. We sell MN-hardy bees and Location-Specific honey.
The last few years, we began partnering with solar developers who are being intentional about their land use practices under and around solar panels. Instead of gravel or turf grass, they plant flowers. We extract this honey separately and call it SolarHoney. We were the first beekeepers in the nation to form this partnership and were written about in National Geographic, Martha Stewart, Smithsonian, and many others.
2. What do you love about the medium you work in?
I love that we get to be outside and directly connected to nature, all of the time, and to work with bees. It is so fulfilling to see a hive grow and to smash a honey crop. It is very amazing what a tiny little insect can produce-- and that their honey lasts forever and can be so different depending on the nectar source. We are constantly in awe of nature.
3. If you could offer any advice to other creatives who are just starting out, what would you say?
I would tell them that it is a rewarding and challenging path. That it takes perseverance and determination through the hard times (especially if they are also farmers and have to depend on the undependable weather). That the hard times are worth it. To try and seize every opportunity, but never compromise your ethics to grow your business.