If you’re like me, you’d love to create a sustainable business that helps the planet.
Matt and Jill Reed of Portland, Oregon, have done it.
Matt caught “bee fever” in 2008 when he came home and found a struggling bee on a windowsill. He gave it heated honey on a plate. The bee devoured the honey and flew away. Four hours later, bees began showing up at the Reeds’ apartment.
Matt was inspired, and one month later he had his first beehive. He built more beehives and began blogging about beekeeping. People contacted him about purchasing hives, so he created Bee Thinking, which sells beekeeping supplies, bee swarm-removal services, beekeeping classes, and hive consultations to beekeeping hobbyists.
Bee Thinking sells foundation-less beehives that it builds in its mill in Portland. Bee Thinking uses kiln-dried Western Red Cedar from the Pacific Northwest. In addition to selling products, the business provides how-to information at its website and at the Bee Thinking YouTube page.
Jill is a poet, writing instructor, and co-editor of Winged: New Writing on Bees, a forthcoming anthology of modern literary writing about honeybees.
Sometimes the Niche Finds You
The Reeds’ experience is an example of the niche finding you, not you finding the niche. First, they had an interest in bees. Then, the market asked him to meet a need. More often in solopreneurship, a person wants to start a business. Then she looks for a niche and tries to uncover a need it can meet for the niche.
Saving the Plant
So, how are the Reeds helping to save the planet? They’re trying to reverse the decline of the planet’s bee population.
Bee pollination is critical to plant and animal life. Between 1947 and 2005, the number of bee colonies in the United States declined by more than 50 percent, from 5.9 million to 2.4 million, according to HoneyLove.org, a nonprofit that inspires and educates new, urban beekeepers. Researchers say the disappearance is likely due to a combination of viruses, pesticides, and contaminated water, which makes bees more susceptible to everything from stress to parasitic mites.
What’s your opinion of Bee Thinking? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
1. The Christian Science Monitor, “Chelsea and Rob McFarland Lure People Into a Sweet Science: Beekeeping”