A curiosity became a buzzing business
written by Joni Kabana
Tucked away on one of the most gorgeous stretches of the North Fork of the John Day River sits a honey stand chock full of honey and wonder. From various seasonal flavors of raw honey to exquisitely crafted beeswax candles to sweet honeystix that can be tucked in your workday pocket, this little hand-built stand is well worth a slow and meandering drive through Eastern Oregon high desert’s sweeping vistas to reach it.
After moving to Kimberly in 2009 while splitting his time working as a field biologist in Nevada, Matt Allen purchased two beehives to fulfill his curiosity of insects and biology. Quickly, his hobby turned to obsession and launched Apricot Apiaries to sell not only honey and bi-products, but also queen bees, nucs and pollination services for fruits and nuts.
Situated next to Thomas Orchards (another fruit-loving reason to visit this region), Allen’s bees enjoy a plethora of nearby plants and trees. He also places hives in host ranches to expand nuanced flavors and diversify his bee family. Some hives travel as far as California to bask in the sun for almond pollination.
Interested in having your own bees? Apricot Apiaries sells nucleus hives and packages for beginner beekeepers. Realizing beekeeping requires steady mentorship, they also host workshops and are available for consultations.
Harvest begins in June with a very light wildflower and black locust honey, he said, followed by a slightly darker clover/wildflower honey. July produces a richer, stronger honey. Apricot Apiaries’ main crop comes in August from white sweet clover and alfalfa, Allen said. “As the harvest comes in, we then start rendering beeswax into candles, lotions, and lip balm,” he said. “If you visit the stand, give a shout so we can come out and say hi if we are not out in the field!”
Soon visitors will be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the magnificent John Day River and commune with the bees as Allen finishes building a tiny house for visitor stays. See more at www.apricotapiaries.com.