Champlain Valley Apiaries 2024 Honey & Gifts

Dear family, friends, and honey lovers, For many years, Chas Mraz has written a letter relaying the state of Champlain Valley Apiaries and the Bees to our new and long-time supporters. Well folks, times are in transition. Big changes are amidst. Chas is stepping back from the day-to-day as he gets more involved with a new foundation to help advocate for healthy pollinators as well as growing the bee venom and apitherapy side of the business. It is with great honor that I, Curtis Mraz—farmer and fourth generation beekeeper, take over this so-called “Letter to the People”. Not every family-owned business has the privilege of seeing 90+ years of operation. Not every family-owned business has endured 90 years of stingers, sunburns, and spring apple blossom blooms. Or, for that matter, 90 years of autumn goldenrod rushes, snowdrifts, and “sticky” situations. This family, The Mraz family, has raised bees in the Champlain Valley of Vermont for a LONG time. Throughout our history we have harvested thousands of metric tons of honey from our bees. As I reflect on the history now, the sheer volume of honey we have produced in this valley amazes me. Keep in mind, scientists estimate it takes two million flower visits to make only one pound of honey. I didn’t do all the math, but I’d say we run this operation on flower power. For 90+ years we’ve bottled and distributed our 100% Raw Honey blend which has become a staple in the community and beyond. I’m honored to be here, excited to be writing this letter, and thankful for the billions of flowers and bees that made it all happen. To me, it’s about more than honey. I’m Curtis Mraz. I’m the nephew of Chas and the fourth generation to run Champlain Valley Apiaries. As the great grandson of Champlain Valley Apiaries founder Charles Mraz, I was raised on bees. I have fond memories sitting in the shade of an oak tree adjacent to a bee yard at age seven or eight. It was a warm early autumn day, the smoke from the bee smokers drifted through the air and up my nose. I chewed on a piece of honeycomb from the sweet clover flow that summer. I was trying not to smile because I had told them that morning that I didn’t want to go. Whether or not I knew it then, honey bees were my path forward. For the last 10 years I’ve been beekeeping, farming vegetables and livestock, and studying business and biology. I moved back to the Champlain Valley of Vermont in 2022 to steward Champlain Valley Apiaries into its next generation. And so it is, with that elongated introduction, that I finally arrive at the State of the Bees. As many of you may know, Vermont received catastrophic amounts of rainfall throughout the summer. Many farmers across the state lost crops, livestock, and even their homes. Our regions apple trees were also hit hard by a late spring frost, reducing their production. Thankfully, our hives stayed high and dry throughout the floods and temperamental weather. Totally saturated soils meant we were trekking in by foot to some of our more remote bee yards. For us it was muddy boots but for the bees, more rain means less flight time. However, wet fields and soils also means the hay crop was cut less frequently, giving opportunity for more flowers and forage to bloom. Overall, it was a productive honey year. The bees have been wrapped for the winter and we’ve ensured they have the honey they’ll need to make it through the coldest months of the year. As for us at Champlain Valley Apiaries, we are growing new legs and setting new goals. Posed to launch a new website, create new products, and gain more exposure, we are excited about the future! This September, for the first time in over 30 years, we sold honey at the Big E in Springfield, MA where we distributed over 30,000 honey samples and spoke with thousands of supporters. As we transition into the fourth generation of this operation, we want to thank you for your continued support. If you’re new here, we would like to welcome you. Together we will make this world a better place for the bees and in turn a better place for us too. Have a happy holiday season. Sincerely, Curtis W. Mraz