In case you weren’t aware, the planet’s in a bit of a bee crisis. In short, the little buggers have been dwindling in drastic numbers, and the scientific community isn’t quite sure where to specifically place the blame for this decline. With such an obtuse problem to tackle, finding a way to bolster the global bee population numbers has proven challenging.
In the interim between identifying the problem and its root cause, a global effort has emerged to reframe the average person’s perception of the insect from stinging pest to be eradicated to an integral player in the agricultural ecosystem that must be protected at all costs. To that end, a number of companies have sprung up dedicated to helping out our bumbling buddies as part of their business models.
One such company, Bee Delightful, has found a mutually beneficial arrangement to support this great cause. Thecompany pays for the relocation of colonies from hives constructed in human-populated areas to a network of co-op apiaries where the bees have the freedom to roam and pollenate areas free from herbicides and pesticides. Once the colonies have been rehabilitated in these controlled environments, Bee Delightful is able to safely harvest their organic, unpasteurized raw honey and infuse it with cannabidiol (CBD). They call this, their company’s sole product, Canna Bees.
Founded by Seth Nyer and Skyler Johnstone—two Seattle cannabis industry veterans with neither the war chest nor the desire to compete with the behemoth canna-companies gobbling up the emerging recreational market there—Bee Delightful offered the two a simpler and more fulfilling business model in Austin. The entrepreneurs made their moves wisely, founding their operation right at the beginning of Texas’ “green rush.”
This desire to keep things simple manifested not just in their product, but also in how the company markets it. Though the majority of their sales occur in their ecommerce shop, they’ve been known to set up tables and offer samples at local farmers’ markets, festivals and other bustling events, generating additional sales for the company and—more importantly—great word of mouth.
As we all know, the federal government remains woefully behind the curve with regards to cannabis scheduling. As of December, 2016, the DEA has asserted—at least on a bureaucratic level—that all oils and extracts derived from the hemp and cannabis plants, even non-psychoactive ones like CBD, are just as illicit as their dank cousins in the eyes of the law. Fortunately, Bee Delightful and others wishing to ship their CBD products across state lines have some wiggle room within this legal morass in which to operate their businesses.
“We’re deriving from industrial hemp,” says Johnstone, before citing a title and chapter of the Controlled Substances Act. “We’re legally able to ship around the country.”
Cannabis’ persistence as a Schedule I drug has also left CBD products untested and, thus, unapproved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which legally prohibits Bee Delightful from claiming its product offers any health benefits. Undeterred, Nyer and Johnstone instead point to the abundance of positive feedback filling the company’s social media pages with customers citing the product as having helped soothe everything from anxiety to insomnia to joint pain.
“I have degenerative and bulging discs, arthritis all over my body, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression. I hurt all the time,” gushes customer Vicky Kramer. “I tried a sample of your honey, and the difference is like night and day. Thank you for all you do in saving the precious bees and helping disabled veterans like me enjoy life again.”
While the gratification of seeing a happy customer is surely its own reward, Bee Delightful has enjoyed financial successes as well, with the company growing exponentially over the short time they’ve been in operation. Furthermore, by their own estimations, 1,000,000 bees have already been saved through their rehabilitation process. Despite this strong growth trajectory, Bee Delightful has no current plans to eventually offer THC-infused products, even once the final dominos for recreational legalization inevitably fall.
“We have the best product in this space and want to keep focusing on growing the customer base for it,” said Nyer. “There are plenty of other places where someone can buy edibles.”
When asked if there was any worry that a competitor might step in to corner the market, Johnstone simply laughed and retorted, “Sure, there are other companies that make a similar product. I don’t know if I’d consider them competitors, though, due to our product being so superior.”
While we may not yet have cracked the formula for saving the bees en masse, efforts like those put forth by Bee Delightful have a demonstrable positive impact and are clearly necessary in what will be a decades-long multi-pronged recovery process. Sure, the future remains somewhat unclear, but if these practices keep up at their current rate, it seems as if it will be sweet for both Bee Delightful and all those bees they’ll be saving in 2018 and beyond.