Robins School Assistant Dean catches the entrepreneurship buzz

August 22, 2017
Laura Thompson, assistant dean, was very busy this summer!

When you hear that someone has 80,000 bees in their backyard, your first instinct would probably be to call the exterminator.

But not in Laura Thompson’s case. She considers each one of her bees to be an individual entrepreneur.

“You have all the pieces in one hive—accounting, economics, finance, marketing, management—it is an integrated business.”

 The business she’s talking about? Honey. And while the bees in Thompson’s backyard won’t be picking up a calculator any time soon, they do the leg work: collecting nectar and pollen for nearly a year which produced more than 80 bottles of honey.

“It was fun, helping care for something, and we went from having no pets to thousands almost overnight,” Thompson said.

She and her two children began tending honey bees in spring of 2016, when they invested in about 10,000 of them, and installed a hive in their backyard.

“I’ve always been intrigued with the bees’ role as pollinators and honey’s many health benefits,” Thompson said. “In the past years, I’ve read a lot about the endangerment of bees and the part humans can play to help decelerate their extinction.”

Thompson and her kids have learned a lot about the little buzzers through the process. By nature, honey bees are rather docile, Thompson says, mainly because their sole purpose is to pollinate, so if they’re doing their job, they’re not looking to sting you.

They also joined a bee-keeping club in the Richmond Tuckahoe area, and had many other mentors in the process to make sure their endeavor was successful.

So after a year of nurturing and checking on the bees, it was time to harvest the honey. That harvesting turned into their own family business, Tuckahive Honey.

With freshly labeled bottles in hand, Thompson put the product up for sale locally, and within three weeks, she sold out of all 86 bottles of the raw honey.

“When you have a product that people value and know is good for them, it sells itself,” Thompson said.

She said the flaw in her plan, was that with only one hive the customer demand exceeded her honey supply. But, she says, it taught her a few lessons about business and entrepreneurship.

“I learned that if it’s something that you as the entrepreneur are excited about, it will resonate with people,” Thompson said.

So if you missed the sale—don’t worry, the bees are still buzzing away! But, their next supply won’t be ready until summer of 2018.