Agricultural businesses are an important part of the Washington State economy. This issue of Business Connections highlights some of the Ag efforts in Lewis County.
In 2015 Washington State passed a bill that formally recognizes apariasts as farmers, granting them tax benefits other growers and ranchers receive. In essence, the reasoning is that beekeepers are “are managing tiny livestock,” (WSU, 2015). Hive 5 Bees is a member of Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce and represents this tiny but mighty component of the Ag community.
Kevin Mills, the owner of Hive 5 Bees, has been a bee enthusiast since the young age of six, and by age 13 had his own bees, and by 14 was recruiting investors. Mills and his wife Amanda have been keeping bees commercially for 14 years. Last year they opened their retail location, Pacific Northwest Honey Company, where they sell their raw honey, beeswax, pollen and much more! There is even a honey tasting bar where visitors can taste 5 different types of raw honey and experience for themselves the difference in quality from corporate-produced honey providers. Most large-scale honey is mixed with imported honey or other additives, and is inferior to locally sourced honey. Educating the public about the benefits of locally produced raw honey is an ongoing challenge for local beekeepers.
Not only does Hive 5 Bees have their retail location, Pacific Northwest Honey Company, they also supply area beekeeping enthusiasts with “NUCS,” which is a nucleus of bees, or a starter colony. Kevin also supports his NUC sales and beekeepers everywhere by holding weekly beekeeping classes, which he shares on his Youtube page. They also take their bees down to California annually to pollinate the almond crops. “Beekeepers are a crucial part of Agriculture,” comments Kevin. Not only do bees produce honey, but also pollinate more than one-third of all crop production. When you keep bees, you are helping to support local farmers and local food security.
Since opening their retail location in Rochester, the community has embraced their honey and bees. “This community has been awesome, they were behind us one hundred percent when Covid-19 hit,” Kevin said. Pacific Northwest Honey also sells their honey online, at local farmer’s markets and a handful of local grocery stores and co-ops.
Washington State University, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (2015). Beekeepers are now ‘farmers’ in Washington state. From https://news.cahnrs.wsu.edu/article/beekeepers-are-now-farmers-in-washington-state/