WHO WE ARE
Urban Bee Company produces local and sustainable honey bee goods and services. Located in Seattle, WA, we started in 2009 — after a year researching bees and colony collapse disorder — with two hives in a friend’s backyard. Since then we have grown to 16 carefully selected locations, including 5 community gardens comprising over 20 acres, an education program, and numerous collaborative partnerships.
- We are mission-based because our primary purpose is not to maximize profit but to improve the food system by improving pollinator health and educating people about food distribution.
- We are a micro-business because we consist of only a sole proprietor and a team of dedicated partners. Growth is slow and steady, focused on one healthy bee garden at a time. We decided to forego non-profit status because we want to demonstrate a sustainable business model that does not rely on donations but fair market valuation. We have no “angel investors” or capital investment beyond sweat equity. If we can do it, you can too — and if we create more small, local businesses, our communities will be more viable, sustainable, and self-reliant.
- We are community-driven because we will only be as healthy as those around us. Or, as Benjamin Franklin put it, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
HOW WE OPERATE
- Arguably the nation’s first bicycle-centered honey producer, we used a bike simply because we had no other vehicle — and certainly not because we liked scaling mountainous Seattle streets carting heavy loads! Now we deliver honey all around the city by “Beecycle”, including to our retail outlets.
- Our hives use no synthetic chemicals and no plastics. Our bees eat only honey and pollen they have collected themselves — not only do we not feed our bees high-fructose corn syrup, we don’t even use sugar water. We leave the bees in a single location year-round to minimize stress and disease. We harvest our honey according to each location where it was gathered, to preserve the many flavors of the city landscape.
- We source our hive bodies from a local supplier and are instituting naturally-drawn comb (no foundation) to eliminate commercial pesticide residues.
- With jar-return service, 100% plastic-free and post-consumer-waste labels, and hand-crank machinery, our bottling operation is nearing zero-waste.
WHERE WE’RE GOING
- More local food: one of the first urban beekeeping entities to address pollinator habitat explicitly, Urban Bee Company has taken steps to ensure sustainability: In 2012 we began offering Permaculture Bee Gardens to increase forage for pollinators and increase local urban food production. In 2013 we introduced our “Feed the Bee” Wildflower Seed Mix.
- Better land management: we have instituted collaborations with the non-profit The Common Acre and the Beacon Food Forest to improve the way the city uses public land.
- Better bees: we are developing a local survivor queen bee stock to improve colony viability here in the Northwest, and less reliance on industrial, artificially-inseminated queen stock.
- Global vision: We have organized our first international program with a farming co-op in the mountains of Nicaragua: Amigos Apicultores will help increase coffee yields for export and to generate a local honey crop to support the farming co-op.
Simply put, we have three goals:
- Healthy Bees: Support health and biodiversity of bees, by using best practices inside the hive and providing plentiful and diverse forage outside of it.
- Informed Humans: We aim to educate the public about agriculture and pollinators, using the hive as a focal point to discuss our local and global food systems. With knowledge and positive examples, may we choose to do the right thing together.
- Resilient Habitats: Diverse, local forage will help not only bees and other pollinators, but humans as well. We can repair what we have ruined and participate in the mutually-dependent, permanently-sustainable system generously offered by the planet.
Thank you for helping us make it happen!