The bee's knees: Commerce man rents beehives to local businesses

As his honeybees rest through these winter months, Brad Gladstone readies for the spring, continuing his education on all things bees and preparing and planning beehives for his clients.

Gladstone owns and operates Urban Bee LLC, a Commerce Township-based company that offers beehive adoptions, rentals, and sponsorships.

Trendy Hazel Park restaurant Mabel Gray is among his clients, having installed a beehive on the roof of their building last year. He’s currently preparing a colony for the private residence of a prominent local Public Radio host.

In addition to providing others with on-site hives and colonies, Urban Bee offers a number of other services, including $10-per-month colony sponsorships and honeybee education programming.

Gladstone himself has six hives.

"This is a unique opportunity for companies to engage a relatively new industry. It piques the interest of customers and gives them that unique experience," Gladstone says.

"Businesses can participate in helping the productivity of local honeybee communities, benefiting local gardens and crops. Plus, they get to keep the honey too."

Urban Bee is a business with a cause. A number of bee species across the world are experiencing significant population losses. It’s a scary trend; bees are responsible for pollinating a majority of the planet’s species of plants.

When hired to install an on-site beehive, Gladstone will first visit the property to identify the best possible location for the colony. He then preps the site and installs the hive.

His work doesn’t stop there. Gladstone routinely returns to the beehive, performing any required maintenance while also educating his clients on caring for the colony.

In the case of Mabel Gray, it will take at least a year before the young colony is strong enough to where the restaurant can harvest the honey for their own use. Though Gladstone says that their colony is particularly strong and may be ready later this year.

Visit Urban Bee LLC online to learn more about colony adoptions and rentals.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.