OXFORD, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – One of the participants in tomorrow’s Honeybees Day is also the subject of our latest Food and Farm Showcase.

Kutik’s, based in Chenango County, operates New York’s largest apiary, overseeing 7 thousand regular hives scattered across Upstate and another 17 thousand starter hives, or nucs that both produce honey and are sold to other beekeepers.

It all started in the late 70’s when Chuck Kutik received a pair of hives as a gift.

The hobby became a business in 1978 when Chuck and Karen opened their first honey stand along Lyon Brook Road in Norwich. Soon after, they began transporting their hives to area farms to help with crop pollination.

Today, they truck their hives to California to pollinate almond trees, to North Carolina to pollinate blueberries and more.

Their niece Lindsey Moroch says the variety of flowering plants, or forage, in our region makes for some delicious flavors.

“New York State as a whole is one of the most sought after honeys in the world because of our diversity of forage. It’s just a tremendous, rich honey that’s beautiful and tasty,” said Moroch. “As the population, as farming declines, and there are more metropolitan areas, it becomes a bigger struggle for bees to survive.”

Moroch says another challenge is colony collapse, a little understood phenomenon which causes 40 percent of hives to die each winter. In response, Kutik’s goes out of its way to provide its bees with as much support and proper nutrients as possible. And it engages in migratory farming, packing up all of the hives and equipment into trucks and relocating to South Carolina for the winter months.

Victoria Peila-Ryan helps in the production of nucs and breeding new queens.

The self-professed Ag nerd who grew up on a dairy farm in Oxford says the Kutiks treat all of the employees like family.

“Karen and Chuck tasted the honey, what it was like in the hive. And they want that product to be able to be on your shelf, in your house, so you can taste the same things that they were tasting when you stick your finger in that comb,” said Peila-Ryan.

In 2018, the family opened Kutik’s Everything Bees, a retail outlet along Route 12 in Oxford.

There they sell a wide variety of honeys, with raw honey, wildflower, clover, blueberry, cranberry and Japanese knotweed among the most popular.

The store also sells beekeeping equipment and supplies as well as other traditional farm market products. The honey is also available in Taste New York stores.

For more information, go to kutiks.com.