Here's What Happened To Bee Free Honee After Shark Tank

If you've kept up with any of the companies that pitched on "Shark Tank," you've likely seen that some food inventions flop. Of course, not all of them flop due to failings on their own part, but rather, due to the world not being ready to embrace them. While today there may be increasing awareness of the need to switch to plant-based vegan honey, this wasn't the case when entrepreneurial duo Melissa Elms and Katie Sanchez came to the "Shark Tank" investors in 2016 with their sustainable and bee-free honey.

Initially seeking a deal of $110k in exchange for 10% equity, Elms and Sanchez eventually struck a deal with sharks Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, and Chris Sacca. The duo left the tank with a deal for $210k and 30% equity. Unfortunately, an offer from the sharks was not enough to keep Bee Free Honee in the air, as the sustainability-minded company is no longer in business today.

The idea behind Bee Free Honee had the sharks fighting

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but certain creations are entirely accidental. Pastry chef Katie Sanchez was making apple jelly in 1999, and it turned out to be a disaster. However, what she ended up with was a liquid that resembled honey, and so Bee Free Honee's locally produced vegan honey was born.

Made from lemon juice, cane sugar, and organic apples grown in the U.S., Bee Free Honee came in five different flavors — original, mint, chocolate, elm, and chile hot honey. Not only were the sharks thrilled about the idea and the vegan honey's flavor, but the business had promising numbers to back it up. At the time of its appearance, Bee Free Honee was in Whole Foods stores across nine regions and had made a total of $104,000 in sales.

Like many other businesses that pitch to the sharks, Bee Free Honee hoped to spread awareness of its products and expand across the country. While Melissa Elms and Katie Sanchez did manage to raise awareness about honey bees, they weren't as lucky when it came to sustaining Bee Free Honee.

The world wasn't ready for Bee Free Honee

Although Bee Free Honee had three sharks willing to back it up, its story wasn't all sunshine and roses. Following its appearance on "Shark Tank," Bee Free Honee hired more staff and grew its manufacturing process. The company's products found their way to shelves in supermarket giants like Wegmans, Natural Grocers, and Sprouts, and Chris Sacca even added the honey to the menus of his vegan restaurant chain, Veggie Grill. 

Sadly, Bee Free Honee closed its doors in 2019. In an interview with Compassionate Action For Animals, Katie Sanchez admitted that she was not ready for the "level of disruption that was ready to ensue upon me" and seemed to imply that the world wasn't ready for vegan honey at the time. While the lack of eager vegan honey consumers presented a problem for Bee Free Honee in 2016, Sanchez remains confident that "[someday] people are a little more ready to hear the message. I'm hoping that we were at least able to break through and pave the way for the next person."

While experts still aren't convinced that the world can relinquish bee-produced honey, companies like Humble Honee, Blenditup, and The Simple Origin Food Co. press forward with their vegan-friendly honey substitutes.