We recently connected with Michelle Boerst and have shared our conversation below.
Michelle, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Let’s talk about social media – do you manage your own or do you have someone or a company that handles it for you? Why did you make the choice you did?
We do our own social media. Our children and their friends wanted us to start a Tiktok account, showing our honey bee removals. We opened up an account and the first video was successful. 600,000 views in a few days. We continued to shoot videos and then one day a few weeks later, we had a massive swarm of honey bees to pick up. We caught the whole thing on camera and the Tiktok users went wild over it. We currently are sitting at 15 million views on this video. It was very exciting!
We started to video every one of our jobs. Soon, it became a monster we had to feed.
Our business is seasonal and in the winter months, we had no food for the social media monster we created. It puts pressure on you to “perform”.
There is also the desire to get the best shot, the best video, the best moneymaker. We often work on ladders 30 feet in the air. We needed to get our priorities in order and remember; safety first, job quality second, efficiency third and lastly footage for our social media feed.
The social media journey has been a great experience in many ways. It definitely helped our company grow and we made a lot of new friends along the way. It also taught us to keep a level head and understand what is important and what is less important.
Thankfully customer service, reliability and professionalism has always been our focus. Social media could have completely derailed us, had we let it.
Balance is the key to success in any business. It’s what keeps us mentally, physically, emotionally and financially sane as small business owners. It is too easy to let that pendulum swing too far in one direction.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Our company is called Bursting Bees, LLC. We are professional beekeepers. I started keeping bees in 2014 when my son wanted an animal for his ag class. We were gifted with a scholarship through a bee club and we soon had two hives.
I realized that there were beekeepers in our area who wanted to start a bee club. A few of us met and we started a bee club in our neighborhood.
I soon realized I loved being a beekeeper. A new program opened up in our state that educated beekeepers with a Master Beekeeper certification. I saw this as a way to keep busy in my retirement, planning to be an educator for the honey bees.
I achieved my Master Beekeeper Certification in 2019 and will be taking the test for the last level, Master Craftsman, in November.
At this time, there are no other Master Craftsman certified beekeepers in Texas.
As I was working on my bee education, we started growing our company while working full-time. We started removing bees from client’s homes and other structures. We were soon working 70+ hours and 7 days a week.
My partner, Matt and I decided it was now or never and we took the jump in 2020 to retire from our day jobs and become professional beekeepers. I always laugh and say “Who starts a business in a pandemic?”
Despite the Corona virus and all of the ensuing issues, we were busy.
Then the next year we were busier.
Our business is expanding greatly. There is a lot of development in our area, and property taxes are high. We are having many clients who lease our beehives for their property to keep their taxes down.
We also sell bees, equipment, honey and continue to do bee colony rescue and rehoming.
When we are on-site, we get the opportunity to educate our clients ( and often their neighbors), about honey bees and how important they are. Bees can be scary when they move into the walls of your home. We help our customers feel safe and understand honey bees better.
Small business ownership is a full -life job. There is no 9 to 5 in our life. However, we get to do what we are passionate about everyday. It’s rewarding and we love that we make a difference–for our customers with unwanted bees, for the bees themselves and our environment.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
We remove bees from homes and other structures. We started with barns, fences, gates, etc until we understood bees better, had better construction (and deconstruction) skills and were more confident. We then began removing bees from people’s homes. Honey bees often make homes in the roofline of houses. And as we know, all houses are not just one story. I have always had a fear of heights and ladders.
Now add in using power tools at 30 feet up, on a ladder, in a bee suit, surrounded by stinging insects.
However, I knew that I had to do this or I was not going to grow; in business or in my personal capacity.
So, I forced myself up the ladders and did lots of deep breathing. I usually could not sleep well the night before a high job, due to anxiety.
And two years later, I’m still not thrilled to be on a ladder however, I arrive to the job well rested and feeling confident.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
We needed three things to grow our business; money, honey bees and equipment. We realized we could get bees thru picking up swarms for free and doing removals for a fee.
Last year we received over 60 swarm calls. We are basically “on-call” from March to June. We collect swarms any time of day and 7 days a week. This fixed one problem, more bees.
Then we needed equipment to house these swarms of bees.
Matt and I realized that we could rescue bees from unwanted structures for a fee. This gave us more bees and money to buy the equipment to house the bees and the tools we needed for removal.
We would get a rehoming job, get paid and then go buy the tools we needed for the next job. We built and painted bee hive boxes ourselves to save money. we were doing something bee related every waking moment!
As our removal skills grew, we were able to do more complex jobs and charge more money. And by then, we had all the tools we needed. Next we were able to buy in bulk and be more prepared. We bought trailers and specialized tools. We got organized and efficient and could do quality work in less time.
The challenge of having to work for the resources we needed gave us the skills to do our jobs better. We had to think and plan to get everything done in the most cost effective way possible. And sometimes we failed spectacularly. Yet, we learned and got better each time.
- Website: burstingbees.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/burstingbees/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/texasbeekeeper
- Linkedin: Michelle Boerst
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHXSMOxA9iPnS8U7KblHleQ
- Other: tiktok https://www.tiktok.com/@honeybeeboerst?lang=en
michelle boerst matt clark