Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Love Your Hive: How Bee 901 Co. Turns Honey into Community Impact

Kevin Woods and Nathan Bland founded the non-profit, Bee 901 Co., back in January of 2017 after Nathan was given a sum of money, and rather than keep it for himself he wanted to put it towards the greater good in the Memphis area. The pair have been buddies since their high school baseball days, although currently, they’re catching more bees than fly balls.

Kevin Woods and Nathan Bland of Bee 901 Co.

I sat down with Kevin Woods to get some insight on what they’re doing to make Memphis a little sweeter. I say “sat down” loosely, because much like there’s no crying in baseball, there’s not really any sitting in beekeeping either. Kevin was nice enough to let me go bee-hind the scenes and check out one of the hives that makes their “life-changing honey.” 

At this point, I’d like to tell you guys that’s the last of my bee and baseball jokes, but where’s the fun in that?

“One bee only makes about a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her entire life, which is about seven drops of honey. So, that tells you, yes, one bee doesn’t make a difference, but when they all work together, I got out of 4 hives last year, about 300 pounds of honey,” Kevin said. “That’s a lot of honey, and it’s all because of teamwork and working together, and just like with beekeeping and the same thing with Memphis, you’re only gonna get out what you put into it.”

At Bee 901 Co. their motto is to “love your hive” with an emphasis on the “your.” Pull out the “Y” and your hive becomes our hive, and that’s exactly what Memphis is to all of us. Bees work together to make their hive the best it can possibly bee, which is what Kevin and Nathan hope their fellow Memphians take away from the work they’re doing.

When Kevin gets asked why he chose beekeeping instead of, well, anything else, there’s really only one answer he likes to give.

“I believe creativity can solve anything. And becoming a beekeeper was the best creative way to write our story and how we want Memphis to be perceived,” Kevin said.

Click to view the gallery. Photos by Michael Stires / MS Brand.

Last year the guys sold over 220 bottles of honey and donated all of the money, totaling $4,610, to King’s Daughters & Sons Home, a non-profit nursing home located in Bartlett. Over the past two years, the money they’ve donated has helped KDS buy rehab equipment they desperately needed and a custom-made wheelchair for a patient that insurance would not cover.

Photo: Holly Winchell Photography

“A nursing home is such a heartbreaking place to be and that’s kind of why Nathan and I chose KDS,” Kevin said. “There’s many good charities here in Memphis, but there’s not a lot of recognition for nursing homes, and they deserve a great life at a nursing home.”

And while all of this was done with honey, it wouldn’t be possible without their sponsors and the people of Memphis. Bee 901 Co. was sponsored in 2018 by Chris Murphy of Inman-Murphy Termite & Pest Control. This year the bees will be backed by Vita+ IV Bars, a company in the Memphis area that promotes a holistic approach to health and wellness. Bee 901 Co. only has one rule when it comes to their sponsors, they have to be located in the 901 area.

Photo: Russ Turman

Nathan and Kevin, along with their sponsors, aren’t the only team players when it comes to supporting our hive. Other than the bees themselves, you play the largest part. Without the people of Memphis, none of this could be possible.

“It’s kind of an amazing thing. Yes, the bees made the honey, but it was all of Memphis that came out to buy the honey. That’s another reason why we sell it local,” Kevin said.

Kevin and Nathan also work full-time jobs outside of running Bee 901 Co. This was never about making money to them. It was always about improving, in whatever way they can, the lives of the people who live in this city. Our city. 

You know what they say, beauty is in the eye of the bee-holder, and through beekeeping, the love Kevin and Nathan have always had for Memphis has grown larger than they ever thought it could.

Now, I know you guys are ready for a dose of vitamin bee, but we’ll all have to bee patient until the fall to get our hands sticky. The guys start harvesting around September. They also like to hand number all of the bottles to make everything as unique as possible, but after all of that, they should have everything ready bee-tween October and November.

Keep with their work at bee901.co, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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