In 2015, The Best Bees Company made a big leap from a DIY, Boston based start-up to a nationwide operation with a presence in eight major cities. It was the fruits of a new partnership with Beacon Capital Partners, a real estate firm focused on adding value with sustainable infrastructure and improved tenant experience. This was a huge moment for us as a company – we were gearing up for another big year in New England while juggling fresh operation centers coast-to-coast. It was also when I came on Best Bees’ team to manage these satellite cities.
Five years later, we’re seeing our next big phase of growth: the New York Operation is all grown up! Our biggest operation outside of Boston, we will be caring for 200 colonies in the tri-state area this season. While I write this working from home, practicing social distancing, I’m looking back on what we’ve learned and where we’re going.
Back when we got started, it was exciting and challenging to expand into New York City, a city famous worldwide for urban beekeeping and agriculture. We were entering a community of beekeepers bigger (and more concentrated) than anything we’d experienced anywhere. We had to learn very quickly how to fit into an environment like that while ensuring that we properly cared for both the colonies and our clients.
It was very humbling to adapt to NYC, but we have been lucky to have a fantastic local team of beekeepers. Tom Whitburn has been our NY Beekeeper since 2015 and is a New Yorker by birth. This year, he will be managing our local facility as our NY Deck Chief. You can read about his experience with Best Bees in this 2017 blog! We also have Marcella Houghton as our NY Lead Beekeeper, who was lucky enough to be raised by a beekeeping father. We’ve been extremely fortunate with all of our NY beekeepers, both past and present, as they’ve been essential to our success. The local team is getting up to six this season, out of about 50 Best Bees beekeepers nationwide.
This year, however, I’m most excited about our new Long Island City facility. After seasons of bootstrapping it in less ideal spaces, we have found a place that truly feels like home. The new space gives us a lot more room for increasing our service coverage, upgrading our harvesting center, and optimizing our team. Plus the building is a great community of various creative types, so lots of opportunities to collaborate.
Looking forward, I’m excited to see everything the 2020 season has to bring. A lot has gone into making this year another pivotal moment for Best Bees’ growth. While we all hunker down and do our part to get through this pandemic together, the bees are taking every sunny day they get to find the first food sources of Spring. We’ll be with them soon enough.