Meet the Makers: Kaiserson Bee Co.
producing buzzworthy bottles of honey and more here in the Valley
Unlike most home-based small-business owners, Drew Kaiser oversees millions of workers.
Lucky for him, they’re not on the payroll: Kaiser, proprietor of Kaiserson Bee Co. in Eau Claire, provides room and board to his colonies of honey bees, and nature – and the bees’ amazing abilities – provides the rest.
The result is a small batch, single-origin honey which this year was created by bees at 10 diverse locations across the Chippewa Valley, from the Osseo-area farm of PBS Wisconsin host Inga Witscher to the Third Ward in the heart of Eau Claire.
Like the work of the bees themselves, Kaiser’s efforts are meticulous: It takes time and effort to gather honey from roughly 50 bee colonies. This year, Kaiser conducted 29 separate harvests and gathered 3,500 pounds of honey. Each harvest produces something different – a difference customers can taste.
“I frequently get people whose first reaction before trying our honey is that they don’t like the taste but after experiencing the variety, find one that they do in fact like it!” –Drew kaiser, kaiserson bee co.
“By virtue of location and time, you get distinctly different colors and flavors,” Kaiser says. Much like wine, he explains, honey has a terroir: a particular character based on the flowers blooming at the time, as well as the soil, climate, and other environmental factors. Browse through Kaiser’s inventory, and you’ll find descriptors like “mild brown sugar,” “ripe bananas,” and “burst of melon sweetness.”
Kaiser and his wife, Ellen, are focused on preserving this character. While the little plastic bears at the grocery store are filled with pasteurized, ultra-filtered honey blended from multiple countries, each jar of Kaiserson Honey contains only honey gathered by bees at one place and time: The sweet nectar of a Chippewa Valley summer distilled into something that can’t be reproduced.
Inside his historic Eau Claire home and under the watchful eye of the family dog, Bumble (get it?), Kaiser carefully fills 16-ounce jars with raw honey, which are available for sale at The Local Store and other outlets around the Midwest, as well as online and through a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. He also creates candles, lip balm, and other items thanks to those hard-working bees.
The main attraction, however, is that carefully curated honey. When he offers samples at vendor events, customers have their palates pleased and their minds blown by the variety of flavors.
“My hope is that folks learn something about bees or honey,” Kaiser says of his customers. “I’m always thrilled when people can learn something or change their minds.”
HERE’S THE BUZZ
What’s in a name? “Kaiserson” is a portmanteau of Kaiser and Sorenson, the last name of Kaiser’s wife, Ellen. She’s the one who got Drew interested in beekeeping in the first place.