Corky Luster always has projects going. Last year when his beehives did especially well, he decided to create the Ballard Bee Company and market honey. “I thought I would bottle it and start selling it,” Luster said.
Luster’s first sale was to Anne Catherine Kruger, chef and owner of A Caprice Kitchen. He was walking his dog by her restaurant one day and thought, “I’ve got to sell it to somebody.”
For the label, Luster “wanted something with a little more edge,” and avoided the typical country theme. Photo by Emily Fairbrook.
“It was so fortuitous. It just worked out,” Luster said. “She gave me the courage and positive energy to keep selling.” Kruger’s restaurant uses fresh and local foods, so when she discovered the Ballard Bee Company was within five miles she immediately got excited. “I think it’s really important to support other small businesses and farms,” said Kruger. “I can really tell the difference. The ingredients just shine all by themselves.” A Caprice Kitchen is located at 15th Avenue Northwest on Northwest 70th Street.
Recently, Luster’s honey has become so popular he’s had to turn down interested stores. Luster is selective because he harvests just once a year but supplies stores and restaurants year-round. “No big stores,” said Luster. “I want [Ballard Bee Company honey in] specialty boutique stores and places I go to. I want to support them.”
However, Luster plans on expanding. He’s building new hives and expects to have 40 this summer. He’s also planning on marketing comb honey in addition to extracted honey. “It’s going to be a big product next year,” Luster said in reference to comb honey. To get around having more than four hives — the legal limit for one yard in the city — Luster places hives in other people’s yards.