Tenant Spotlight: Free Range Beehives

A close-up shot of a bee colony on a honeycomb.

Free Range Beehives is a local, two-generation, family-owned corporate beekeeping business that installs and maintains beehives on building roofs for companies. Free Range Beehives is deeply knowledgeable about the Front Range and hopes to improve the region’s environmental health, support the dwindling honeybee population and make Colorado buildings greener.

We spoke with Free Range Beehives’ David Mathias, Partner and Co-Founder, and John Rosol, Chief Sustainability Officer about their business and their experience as an Alliance Center tenant.

The Alliance Center: What does your organization do and how long have you been around?

David Mathias and John Rosol: We engage businesses in the restoration of declining honeybee populations in Colorado. Companies purchase our turnkey solution and host hives to help bolster the environment and grow their sustainability impact. We provide the services of maintaining the hives, producing public relations and marketing content for our clients, educating their tenants and employees and extracting the honey for our clients to distribute to their team and customers. We are just starting out and have been in business for less than one year.

TAC: What specific programs, practices or priorities is your organization most focused on right now? How have these evolved over time?

DM & JR: Beekeeping is a very specialized and localized practice—almost an art form because of Colorado’s variable weather, seasons and location. We have thousands of hours of beekeeping experience. Our priority is to help honeybees prosper while engaging businesses in this fun, interactive and personal way of practicing sustainability. We provide education to employees of our clients who want to “suit up” and get into the hive. We also have a well-established research platform.

TAC: In what ways could The Alliance Center’s community help you achieve your mission? Are you looking for partnerships, advice and/or connections?

DM & JR: We are so happy to be part of this like-minded community. We believe the Alliance community can best serve us by helping us get the word out to their customers and other stakeholders. We have a limited marketing budget at this time so building awareness is key. Of course, we welcome any advice on starting a new organization, and we look at any and all partnership opportunities as word of mouth has thus far been our strongest selling channel.

Four men standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the entrance to The Alliance Center.

TAC: What is unique about your organization that you could offer to the community?

DM & JR: We are unique in the sense that we are the only ones running this type of business (that we know of) west of the Mississippi River. There are others with similar business models, but they are mostly located on the East Coast and probably don’t know much about Colorado’s climate and biodiversity. We also have purposely built relationships with local suppliers and retailers so all of our honeybees and equipment are sourced from local businesses. There are probably cheaper ways to operate, but we want to support local, specialty companies.

TAC: What does success look like for you as it relates to sustainability and your organization’s mission?

DM & JR: Our goal is to set up a distributed apiary of honeybee hives across the Front Range spreading out the hives so as not to overpopulate an area. We want to ensure all of Colorado’s ecology, particularly those in urban settings, are covered by these amazing pollinators.

TAC: What is your proudest achievement as an organization?

DM & JR: We are proud that our very first client was the Gates Corporation. This $3 billion dollar company wanted to engage in a manageable sustainability project to help the bees and also demonstrate their commitment to being socially responsible. They mentioned that there is no better way to welcome your employees back to the office than by providing a connection to nature—and eventually some really good honey!

TAC: What is a specific challenge your organization has faced and how have you overcome it?

DM & JR: Many people are hesitant to install beehives on their properties with concern over the chance of being stung. We approach this not as a challenge to be overcome but as an opportunity for education. We teach our clients all about honeybees and how unlikely it is that the bees will sting them. We teach them statistics—one study found that the risk of being stung by a honeybee is no more likely if hosting a hive than if not, and the Harvard School of Public Health found the chance of being stung by a honeybee to be 6 million to 1.

A close-up shot of a single honeybee.

TAC: How long has your organization been connected with The Alliance Center?

DM & JR: We have been a part of the Best for Colorado program out of The Alliance Center since January of 2021, but our place in the building is quite new. We have only been set up in the physical space for one month, but we are extremely excited to work among this community and to get to know the fantastic organizations we share the building with!

TAC: Why did your organization choose The Alliance Center over other working spaces?

DM & JR: We chose The Alliance Center because of the community, and we think our mission lined up best with that of The Alliance Center. While we looked at a couple of other shared workspaces, it was really The Alliance Center’s tenants and what they do within the sustainability field that drew us here. As a like-minded community, it is our hope that we can learn from other organizations while supporting them ourselves. It really comes down to shared values with others in the building.

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