In 2014 Bee Downtown started as a nonprofit business and was originally intended to be a solely educational organization. As all startups do, we have changed and grown over the past year and a half. As more and more companies began to show interest in installing rooftop hives at their own buildings we came to the conclusion that Bee Downtown would be most successful in a for-profit environment. In 2015 we decided to make the switch to a for-profit company to allow us the space and opportunity to grow and expand Bee Downtown at a faster pace.
For founder Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, education will always be one of the most important cornerstones of Bee Downtown. Because of that, we kept the non-profit leg of Bee Downtown up and running. While hives and products will be sold through our for-profit, each year 2% of our profits will be given to the nonprofit side of the company. On a weekly basis we receive multiple emails from teachers across North Carolina asking if we can bring one of our portable hives to their classroom and teach a class for their students about bees and agriculture. With the money our nonprofit receives from the 2% of profits and from additional grants/donations we will be able to visit schools in states that have Bee Downtown hives at no cost to the teachers. This allows children, many for the first time, to make a concrete connection between agriculture, honey bees, and where their food actually comes from. It is our goal as a company to not only systematically increase healthy honey bees populations by adding bees to cities across the United States, but to also create a lasting change in the mindset our world has about agriculture and conserving our environment through educating the next generation of world leaders.
While part of the proceeds from our for-profit’s revenue each year are sent back to our nonprofit for education, the demand for us to visit schools is too high and we just can’t visit them all. Through your gracious donations you allow us to go to even more schools and share about our precious pollinators with even more children in our community!
Currently Bee Downtown is in a fiscal sponsorship with an amazing organization, Abundance NC. A fiscal sponsorship means we do not have 501c3 status of our own, but through partnering with Abundance, NC who does have 501c3 status we are able to be considered a 501c3 through them. We partnered with Abundance for our fiscal sponsorship because we believe very strongly in the work they do in our community and our mission and theirs compliment each other wonderfully!