History at Crystal’s Honeys
Crystal’s Honeys is part of Merrimack Valley Apiaries Inc. (MVA), a family owned honeybee farm started in Billerica Mass., by Alice and Andy Card Sr. and their partners, Ruth and Stewart Chaney of Dunstable, Mass. in 1958. In those days and in that area , interest in beekeeping was born out of the small “victory gardens” and fruit orchards in what was then “rural “ greater Boston, Massachusetts. Alice and Andy got their first package of bees from Sears and Roebuck. .
Since Massachusetts and New England are not noted for honey production, the income needed for a successful honeybee farm came from hive rental fees for pollination of apples, blueberries and cranberries. Today MVA and it’s sister Evergreen Honey Company of Bunkie and Jennings, Louisiana has grown to become one of the largest honeybee farms in the nation and are major pollinators of fruit in New England, New Jersey, New York and California. In fact MVA was the first bee farm to pollinate CA almonds from the east coast in 1989.
In 1985 Crystal and Andy Card Jr. purchased MVA from Andy’s dad. The following year they bought a small bee farm from Robert L. Hayes, of Evergreen, LA. Robert stayed on after the purchase and over the next 12 years helped grow the Louisiana farm from 800 to 2500 colonies. Meanwhile, Andy Sr.’s manager, Lucyann Jurss, continued to manage the wintering of some colonies in Florida. In 1986, Andy and Crystal continued moving several loads of bees to Western New York State a practice which began in 1984 for honey production following cranberry pollination as floral sources were pushed out by real estate development in eastern Massachusetts. In 1990 they started a second honey production farm near Ft. Plain, NY. Today production at the two NY farms approaches half a million pounds. .
Despite the growth in pollination services nationwide ,and with honey production at approximately 1% of the national crop, we have not forgotten our ties to beginning and hobby beekeepers. At the turn of the century we were among the first commercial beekeepers to provide replacement nucs to the beekeeping community as an alternative to packages. This year we intend to produce over 10,000 for sale nucs. .
In 2006 we created Crystal’s Honeys as an alternative to industrial style packaging and treatment of honey, which applies heat and filtration to gain speed and efficiency in packaging. Our goal is to provide honey from floral sources considered local to their market areas without blending. At Crystal’s we urge you to buy local “authentic” raw honey from beekeepers wherever you may find it. .