Busy Bees Total Care opens in Dysart

Busy Bees co-owners Melanie Grimm (left) and Reianna Cross (right) pictured inside their new business. It is the hope of Grimm and Cross that their family-run business will help Tama County seniors age gracefully at home by providing a variety of services including housekeeping, laundry, medication help, transportation, yard and pet care, evening meals, and much more. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Helping rural Iowans to age in place by remaining in their homes — and thereby in their communities — lies at the heart of Dysart’s newest business, Busy Bees Total Care & Transportation.

“Our typical client is over 70 [years old] and just needs help with little things,” co-owner and Dysart native Reianna Cross said as she sat inside her new business located at 323 Main Street in downtown Dysart, her sister and co-owner Melanie Grimm at her side.

Those “little things” can include pretty much anything, Cross said, including housekeeping, laundry, medication/pharmacy assistance, bathing, lawn and pet care, grocery shopping or pick-up, assistance with doctor’s appointments, cooking assistance, transportation (locally), and even just making a cup a tea and sitting with a client in their home for an hour visiting.

Anything to help keep a senior at home longer and with dignity.

“Last week I shampooed someone’s carpet,” Cross said as an example.

Dysart’s newest business Busy Bees Total Care & Transportation opened October 1 in the former Fiber Heart yarn shop building located downtown at 323 Main Street. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Prior to Busy Bees, both Cross and Grimm spent years working in assisted living facilities — Cross as an LPN and Grimm as a CNA. Until recently, they both worked at Sunrise Assisted Living Suites in Traer. Cross is still employed there but Grimm quit in order to focus full-time on the new business.

Through the years — particularly during the pandemic — Grimm said they have heard time and time again from residents under their care how much they missed their homes, their communities, their friends, their pets — essentially, they missed their lives.

“Their main complaint [is always] they love assisted living but they miss their home,” Grimm said.

Grimm said it was particularly tough during the worst months of the pandemic for those individuals residing in care/nursing facilities — they were locked down for their own health and safety but it meant months and months of zero interaction in-person with their families and loved ones.

The sisters had been talking for a long time about starting a business like Busy Bees to help seniors age in place and finally decided during the pandemic to just take the leap.

A recreated living room inside Busy Bees Total Care & Transportation. Clients are welcome to visit the business and have a cup of coffee while watching T.V. or socializing with both the owners and other clients. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

They chose Dysart because they wanted to remain in the northern Tama County area. When the building at 323 Main Street became available — due to the relocation of Fiber Heart yarn shop — they knew it was time. Busy Bees officially opened its doors October 1.

Today the family-run business — Cross and Grimm’s brother Jon Azbill is the business’s marketing manager — has 10 clients and is looking to expand that number tremendously and not just to seniors. Anyone who needs a bit of extra help to remain in their home is welcome to contract with Busy Bees for services, Cross said.

Soon they will even be offering home cooked, evening meal delivery seven days a week thanks to Grimm’s husband, Chris Grimm, a UAW Local 838 John Deere worker who’s been on strike. When he’s not on the picket line, he’s been working quickly to build a full-size kitchen in the back of the business.

Busy Bees offers both weekly package services as well as hourly rates for those clients who prefer to pick and choose their services or only need a small amount of assistance.

A “simple service package” includes approximately 10.5 hours per week of services, one transportation to appointments, and seven evening meals as well as breakfast on the weekends for $1,450 per month or $315 per week. Busy Bees also offers a 30 hours per week package. A la carte services cost $30 per hour.

Busy Bees located at 323 Main Street in downtown Dysart. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

It is the hope of Cross that soon the packages they offer will become Medicare-reimbursable.

“We’re still waiting to hear what Medicare will pay for.”

In the meantime, they’re not only looking for new clients but also a few more employees.

“There’s no need for [potential applicants] to be a nurse to apply,” Cross said, “but we prefer that they be vaccinated [against COVID-19] or provide a doctor’s note.”

Busy Bees clients can live in any of Dysart’s surrounding communities, Grimm said, including Clutier, Vining, Elberon, Traer, Toledo, Tama, and Vinton.

Busy Bees located at 323 Main Street in downtown Dysart. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

“We need [this service] in our small community,” Cross said.

For more information on Busy Bees and the services they offer, refer to their website https://www.busybeestotalcareandtransportation.com, call 319-476-2756, or stop by the office weekdays for a cup of coffee, a chat, and check out all Busy Bees has to offer.