Black Joy

The teen beekeeper behind Beeing2Together on the power of community

The universe is buzzing with opportunities for 16-year-old award-winning entrepreneur Keith Griffith III.

He’s the mastermind behind Beeing2gether in Louisville, KY. It’s a beekeeping business that does more than sweeten your day by selling golden local honey. He’s built a community-centered business model where everyone wins. He helps the environment by speaking at elementary schools and local colleges about the importance of the endangered honey bee. Check out this video of how he helped preserve the bees by installing hives on two rooftops in Louisville last year.

He owns nine hives, but he doesn’t keep the secrets of his skills to himself. He teaches his community how to become their own beekeepers. When a gentleman recently spotted a swarm of bees on his front porch, Keith gave the man a box, known as a nuc, to start his own hive. Keith and his family also help people install hives in their own backyards. Keith won’t leave you hanging when the hive is set up. He’ll make sure to stop by and check in on folks and their new buzzing neighbors.

“We actually have somebody who showed us his own honey,” Keith said. “He has his own little jar and label that he gives to family and friends…It’s a pretty cool experience, and I would like my business to be interactive with the community.”

Since starting at business at just 12 years old, Keith has been catching a lot of eyes….and awards. He bagged a grant and won the Prize Achievement Award from the Kurt Giessler Foundation for Youth Achievement in 2021. He scored a trip to Washington D.C. after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tapped him as the 2022 National Young Entrepreneur Of The Year. More than 3,000 students applied for the award nationwide.

Keith’s accolades have earned him a lot of street cred. His athletic coaches call him “bee boy” or “beekeeper.” His cousin refers to him as the GOAT of the family, a title Keith claims humbly. He’s more focused on building an empowering legacy for his family and community.

“I just want to inspire people that you can do anything no matter what age you are, no matter what point of life you’re in,” he said.

Keith got into the bee business after his uncle, who is paralyzed from the waist down, got his first bee hive. Keith, who was in middle school at the time, was surprised such a hobby existed. Fascinated to learn about something new, Keith’s uncle gave him the opportunity to feed the bees. Wearing only half of an oversized bee suit, some shorts and some slides, Keith had his first interaction with the hive. It’s a moment that changed the trajectory of his life.

As Keith’s time in middle school came to a close, only one school really caught his eye: Trinity High School, an all-boys, college preparatory high school. So Keith and his uncle started selling honey to raise money for his tuition. A local news station picked up Keith’s story – and everything went viral from there – so viral that an anonymous donor agreed to pay for his tuition.

Keith is already excelling at Trinity, where he is learning about business, graphic design and money management. And he’s scoring awards there, too. He won the school’s Shamrock Award for maintaining a 3.8 GPA all four quarters of the school year. He’s eyeing that same achievement this year.

Although his tuition money is already secured, Keith said he didn’t want to stop beekeeping. He wanted to expand on his dream.

“I loved how the community was responding. I just want to keep on adding on to my business and hopefully inspire other people to do their own thing,” Keith said. “It was something I found joyful and fun to do and hopefully I can cheer up people and show people that there’s still hope and that you can have fun doing absolutely anything you want to do because the last thing I really expected me to do was to be messing with bees.”

Keith’s mother, Stephanie, said her son’s story gave the community a dose of positivity at a time when Louisville was in mourning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of Breonna Taylor. Now, Keith is spreading inspiration all around town, she said. His friends are even going back to their parents with requests to start their own businesses.

“Keith is definitely a different kid,” Stephanie Griffith said. “A lot of negative stuff goes on in the world and he’s doing something amazing. He’s not only a positive face to the world, but he has also created something different for the community in the Kentucky area.”

Keith’s Instagram is a patchwork of honey-ladened merchandise (like this lip balm packed with argan and castor oil), reels of Keith handling the hives and affirmations encouraging people to not be afraid to seek help for their mental health.

For all the book lovers in the Black Joy fam, Keith also authored “Honey Bees & Beekeeping: A Mental Health Miracle” in 2019. The book details how beekeeping helped Keith cope after his parents were incarcerated. When he was about two years old, his dad was incarcerated. It wasn’t easy seeing his mother juggle life. Then his mother was incarcerated for a year when Keith was in fifth grade. Keith’s tight-knit village stepped in to take care of him. He stayed with both his grandmothers during that time and his uncle started calling him “nephson” because they were spending so much time together as they took care of the hives. Keith said that time of his life taught him about the supportive power of family.

Being around the hives and learning about bees online puts Keith in a relaxed state. He likes hearing the hum of the hives and being impressed by the bees’ ability to find flowers miles away and come right back home using just the sun as their GPS. Keith said it’s like they are functioning in their own little universe – one where he’s been stung multiple times, but he uses those moments to teach himself a lesson about life.

“I learn to stay calm under pressure. Just take a deep breath in,” Keith said. “So if you’re in a bad situation or too much is happening, just try to stay calm. If you’re taking a test and getting a little nervous, believe in yourself. Trust your knowledge.”

Growing Keith’s business has very much become a family affair. After his father’s release a year ago, Keith and his dad are now enjoying some bonding time as they take care of the hives together. Keith credits his parents for keeping him confident as they push him to apply for the big awards, speak in front of the camera and crowds, and stay on top of his grades.

Stephanie was worried at first when her son told her he wanted to work with bees. But instead of overseeing everything, she gave him the space to take the wheel of his own dream – with his mom and dad right behind him. When Keith asked for a nuc box for Christmas one year, she made sure she got him one. When he spoke about his dream of selling honey, mama got to work and contacted some resources. Now Keith’s honey is sold in eight stores. She was the one who got him an editor for his book and helped him expand his social media footprint by recording his videos. Stephanie knew nothing about no bees at first. So she expanded her knowledge by joining the Kentuckiana Beekeeping Association, where she is now vice president.

There are multiple ways those in Louisville can support Keith from buying his swag or trying your hand in taking care of your own hive. But for Stephanie, here’s one free thing anyone can do no matter where you live: “Just keep those praying hands on my baby to keep him strong and keep him positive,” she said. “Everybody goes through something in life, and you live and you learn from it. You just move on, and keep going forward.”

Jonece Starr Dunigan

Jonece Starr Dunigan |

Jonece Starr Dunigan (She/her/hers) is a journalist who gives the microphone to communities that are often ignored by mainstream media. Guided by empathy, her reporting centers the stories, movement work and voices of Black, brown and queer people. Her writing strives to amplify and empower readers instead of exploiting them of their traumas.

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