Kristy Allen, owner and founder of The Beez Kneez, LLC in Minneapolis, Minnesota has been the voice for honey bees since 2009. What began as a passionate call to action turned into a sustainable honey business for bee keepers and honey consumers alike. As the success of her business grows, Allen’s main interest still remains the same: get the public buzzing about the bees.
Finding her passion
Allen’s story began in 2007 as an agriculture and global studies student at the University of Minnesota. While she felt destined to help change the world, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to channel her passion for advocacy into. After learning about colony collapse disorder in the honey bee population, she fell in love with bees. As a result of her newfound awareness, Kristy spent the summer of 2009 working on her aunt and uncle’s bee ranch, and never looked back.
Realizing her niche, and eager to learn more, Allen moved to Ecuador for nine months to work with other beekeepers who shared her passion. When she moved back to the United States, she began her entrepreneurial journey by selling honey for her aunt and uncle. Dressing up as a bee and making each delivery by bicycle, she made a buzzworthy statement in her community. As an ambitious business woman early on, Allen would travel up to five miles a day—carting around jars of honey to each customers doorstep. After putting the time and pedal-powered energy into her work, Kristy had made enough of a profit to start up bee apiaries and honey products of her own.
The Beez Kneez Honey House begins
To help her business efforts along, Allen created a Kickstarter—a funding platform for creative projects—and raised $40,000 from the public. This helped Allen open up the Beez Kneez Honey House storefront—a retail shop for beekeepers and honey consumers. Looking back, the Kickstarter is something Allen is most proud of. With a whopping 800 international donors, Allen felt the reciprocity of her advocacy efforts from around the world.
When Allen began extracting her own honey, it wasn’t a smooth process. She used a broken hand crank extractor that was gifted to her, but felt it would be inefficient to continue using long term. With an innovative and sustainable mindset, Allen had an idea to combine her love for bees and cycling to power a new extractor. In 2015, after five years of trial and error, she came up with the perfect extractor—the Honey Cycle.
To make the Honey Cycle a reality, she teamed up with a local bike mechanics and engineers. The final product improved the extraction process, and lessened the carbon footprint that typically comes from electric powered extractors. A truly brilliant invention that would further Beez Kneez retail services, which now include:
- Beez Kneez mugs
- The Honey Cycle
- Beekeeping classes
- Urban apiary partners
Educating the public
Kristy continuously strives to do anything she can to benefit honey bees. She is heavily involved as a honey bee educator and environmental politics in her community. Her educational efforts can be seen through her multiple partnerships with restaurants, universities, and food co-ops to educate the community and build apiaries for the bees. Many of the restaurants with apiaries set up use the honey in their dishes and drinks.
In 2014, Allen was part of multiple projects that had success in getting pollinator friendly laws passed in Minnesota, and even has a campaign called “Healthy Bees Healthy Lives”, which she purposefully named to showcase the effects these pollinators have on life itself. Allen is constantly interested in solutions for factors contributing to the decline of bees, like water quality, and industrial agriculture. She believes we need to change the way we grow our food in order to see a positive environmental impact.
What can we do to help?
“As consumers, we can do our part by simply being informed shoppers,” says Allen. Shop organic, choose industries that are doing good, and move away from farming that involves pesticides and fertilizers.
Allen believes that, “We live in a society that is so focused on what we have now, and by shifting that focus to be more future-oriented in the small actions we make, can positively affect the bees, and as a result, our lives.”
Bees are struggling, and while Allen has built a profitable business around bees, she started her journey to be part of something that is giving back. And in return, she has found tangible success, but more importantly, the support of a community that believes in a cause she is passionate about.