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WHO WE ARE

champlain valley apiaries

Champlain Valley Apiaries is a 4th generation family-owned, Vermont beekeeping and honey business. Founded in 1931 by innovative beekeeper Charles Mraz, we have been producing delicious honey for over 90 years.

Our mission, along with producing the highest quality honey, is to foster sustainable agriculture and promote the importance of honeybees in our food system.

Since founding Champlain Valley Apiaries we have worked to protect all pollinators, the environment, the well being of our employees, and the local community in Vermont.

Unwrapping a Legacy: Our Family's Sticky Sweet Story

OUR FOUNDER

CHARLES MRAZ

The son of Czechoslovakian immigrants, our founder Charles Mraz (1905-1999) started keeping bees at the age of 14 in his hometown of Woodside, Queens in New York City. After a lifetime devoted to honeybees and beekeeping, Charles was recognized as one of the five most influential beekeepers in the U.S. by the American Beekeeping Federation. 

In the 1928, Charles purchased a commercial beekeeping operation in Middlebury, VT and opened Champlain Valley Apiaries in 1931. He grew CVA into one of the largest apiaries in New England with a hardy strain of bees he developed to withstand harsh winters. Charles was well regarded as both a vanguard in the area of Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) and as an innovative beekeeper whose inventions advanced the art of beekeeping. He traveled the world as a consultant, was an inventor, an advocate for bee-venom therapy (apitherapy) and was a contributing writer to beekeeping magazines, an author, and helped found the American Apitherapy Society.

2ND GENERATION

BILL MRAZ

In 1976, Bill Mraz began working more closely with his father to take over the family business. In Bill’s time at Champlain Valley Apiaries he battled various pressures on the bees like tracheal mites and foul brood. It was in Bill’s era that bee loses jumped from typical (5–10%) to dire (30–40%). Despite these difficulties, he managed to make innovative strides with the business. Having a background as a mechanical engineer meant Bill made monumental improvements to different industry prototypes for harvesting honey, beeswax, and bee venom.

beekeeper chaz mraz outside in bee yard with open beehive at champlain valley apiaries

3RD GENERATION

Chas Mraz

In 2004, Bill's son, Chas Mraz returned to Vermont, after a career in construction management in NYC, to help run the family business.

Chas focused on bringing the age-old honey business into the 21st century. He launched a website with online shopping, built a social media presence, reinvigorated the catalog, opened a walk-in Honey Shop increasing sales and forging brand partnerships.

Chas observed differences in apiculture now versus when his grandfather worked the bees. Chas has fought hard against varroa mites and has taken a strong stance against unregulated and unmoderated pesticide use. 

In an article with Seven Days, Chas Mraz stated “That’s the thing about all this. [Chemical companies] are killing the soil. Nobody thinks about killing bugs, but they’re so important. Without the bugs, forget about your food. For every bad bug they kill with pesticides, they kill seven good ones. Millions of years of evolution is very complex; we don’t put it together in our heads very well.” 

4th generation

Curtis Mraz

In 2022 Curtis Mraz, Chas's nephew and the great-grandson of Charles, moved to Vermont to usher Champlain Valley Apiaries in to its 4th generation. An experienced beekeeper and regenerative farmer, Curtis understands the importance of training the next generation of beekeepers. Curtis formerly owned and operated Smoke & Honey Co. — a beekeeping and farm management business in the Hudson Valley. He is a member of the National Young Farmer’s Coalition and active in organizing beekeeping education opportunities. Curtis has goals to reignite the sales strategy and product development for Champlain Valley Apiaries, employ sustainable beekeeping practices, and get colony-losses under control.