The Beez Kneez is a Minneapolis-based honey production, education and advocacy organization.
When Kristy Lynn Allen was in high school, her family moved to a new school district during the school year. As a result, her grades suffered. She needed a boost to be ready for college. So, she enrolled in a college connection program. While there, she met a teacher who was planning a trip to China. As a 19-year-old, Kristy took out a loan and went to China with her teacher.
This wasn’t her last time to travel. She studied in England. She traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica. She traveled across Europe. She lived in Ecuador for a year. “All the trips I took, all the exploring I did, shaped me into who I am,” she says.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Global Studies, she was left wondering what to do next. She explains, “I learned everything that was wrong with the world, but I didn’t know how to fix it.”
She signed up with AmeriCorps and traveled to Arkansas where she worked on a ranch that is associated with Heifer International. It was while working Heifer Ranch that she learned about colony collapse. She also discovered that she felt comfortable around agriculture. Kristy says “It seemed like a very simple, and yet impactful way to make a change. Bees are responsible for the pollination of our food and a third of everything we eat.”
After leaving AmeriCorps, Kristy returned to rural Minnesota where she worked on her uncle’s bee ranch. “The first time he opened a hive with me, I just fell in love with bees.” At the end of a harvest season, Kristy’s aunt asked her if she would like to sell honey in Minneapolis. “That’s when my entrepreneur idea lightbulb went off,” she recalls. Since it was October and Halloween was near, Kristy decided to paint her bike like a bee, put pipe cleaners and ping pong balls on her helmet. She handed out honey samples with business cards. “I didn’t have any training in marketing. It was like ‘Huh, this would be a good way to get the word out.’”
This publicity stunt led to a business delivering honey door-to-door. Instinctively, Kristy understood the importance of face-to-face connection. “I had this nostalgia for a time when I wasn’t alive when the milkman would come and bring you your milk, and you’d have a conversation.” The effect was immediate and profound. “I’d go to people’s door. I’m dressed like a bee. The kids got all excited. They’d take pictures. And then, it would immediately spark the question, ‘Hey, what’s going on with bees?’” This was the beginning of The Beez Kneez.
At The Beez Kneez, they keep bees and produce honey. They deliver the honey year-round in Minnesota on a bicycle. They provide beekeeper support, supplies, and training. They run a 14-week intensive training program for beekeepers called Camp Beez Kneez. And they advocate on behalf of pollinators.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Kristy Lynn Allen
“We were concerned for the future of our business, but also the future of our environment.”
“It seemed like a very simple, and yet impactful way to make change.”
“That’s when my entrepreneur idea light bulb went off.” Kristy Lynn Allen, @BeezKneezHoney
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
- Book: Honey Bee Democracy: http://amzn.to/2fjwzdy
- Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: http://amzn.to/2hqn9xx
- The Beez Kneez: https://thebeezkneezdelivery.com
- The Beez Kneez on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebeezkneezdelivery
- The Beez Kneez on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBeezKneezDelivery
- The Beez Kneez on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeezKneezHoney
- Heifer International Ranch: https://www.heifer.org/what-you-can-do/experience-heifer/heifer-ranch/index.html
- AmeriCorps: https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps