Business on Mission & Why Bees Matter
Moving Missions focuses on research, innovation, and trends to advance mission. Today’s for-profit companies are increasingly on mission too, as they need to be. We believe business thinking can benefit the nonprofit mission sector. Therefore, we offer this article about how one business is on a serious mission for the sake of people, the planet, and their own financial bottom line.
Today, multinational corporations have greater impact and influence on the world than entire countries. Because of this, the authors of Completing Capitalism argue that business needs to pay more attention to non-financial forms of capital. That is, human, social, and environmental capital. These three forms of capital are what make business successful. The authors argue that all three are in serious decline, and that will affect businesses’ financial gains.
Consider one form of capital that is seriously threatened. Bees, those little flying wonders that pollinate flowers and make honey, are in serious worldwide decline. Did you know that one out of every three mouthfuls of food in our diet is a product of honeybee pollination? Honeybee decline is complex but can be linked to pesticides, parasites, disease, and loss of habitat. It is placing our food supply at risk. Business plays a big part in the decline of bees, so it behooves them to take the problem seriously.
Saving Bees and Building Business
Beeyond Bees, LLC is a business. They want to make a profit. But their corporate vision includes far more. They also want to see the world’s bee population increase so more people can profit off honey while providing food for a growing global population. But to see bees flourishing, it also takes many more individuals committed to learning and practicing sustainable beekeeping. So Beeyond Bees also wants individuals to progress and be successful. Individuals (human capital) and a healthy bee population (environmental capital) produces greater financial capital. Beeyond Bees gets the big picture.
When Scaling Alone Is Not Enough
Beeyond Bees is not necessarily about scale. That is how business usually thinks about growth. Instead, they believe replication can have a greater long-term impact on the bee population. Company founder, Bernie May, compares business replication to a family model of parents, children, and grandchildren. He believes increasing the number of beekeepers can grow when each one replicates themselves by successfully teaching and training another.
Indeed, their business model is not trying to increase company size. The problem is too big for one company to tackle. They believe training other people to learn beekeeping is where scale lies in terms of producing healthy bees, more income for other people, and more food in the world.
A big part of Beeyond Bees’ business plan is operating an apprenticeship program to train people who can go to developing countries and train individuals to start and run their own beehives. For example, John Lane* started his first beehives in a limited access country. After receiving training sponsored by Beeyond Bees, John’s first harvest produced quality honey. By providing pure and unadulterated honey, he was able to sell it at a premium price. The income allowed him to double production capability. Moreover, the bee population increased in his area, benefitting crop yield and overall plant pollination.
The people John trained are also now producing their own honey and generating needed income while improving their local ecosystem.
Innovation for a Better Tomorrow
Beeyond Bees’ program embraces traditional, time-honored beekeeping blended with the latest research available. The company is currently exploring the use of technologically advanced beehives that use artificial intelligence to help monitor and detect problems in the hive. In theory, this will allow the beekeeper to manage proactively in real-time and with more precision. Bees and beekeeper stand to gain. That can increase everyone’s bottom line.
Beeyond Bees is a socially and environmentally responsible organization that understands the importance of caring for other forms of capital. In this case, little hardworking insects that produce food for the planet and a livelihood for people in developing nations.
About the Authors
Bernie May is the Founder of Beyond Bees, LLC.
Gilles Gravelle is Executive Director of Movingmissions.org