Weekend Warrior: For healthcare entrepreneur Stefan Fletcher, shifting to the slow life has been the bee’s knees

RebalanceMD CEO Stefan Fletcher takes care of himself with meditative hobbies like gardening and beekeeping

Stefan Fletcher was sitting in his backyard in Victoria one afternoon when, all of a sudden, the sky went dark. He looked up to see thousands of bees swarming—meaning they’d fled one of the hives his son Harrison Fletcher was tending to in the garden.

“It was two or three times that it happened over two or three weeks,” recalls the CEO of RebalanceMD, whose interest in bees was inspired by his son’s teenage hobby. “Sometimes bees just swarm for the hell of it and nobody knows why, and other times they’ve created a new queen.” Swarmers could be 40 feet up in the air, or they could be hanging off a tree or fencepost. In the Fletchers’ case, the father and son were able to track the bees and coax them to a new hive, creating a new colony.

After Harrison left for university, the elder Fletcher dusted off the equipment and decided to start raising pollinators himself. He found himself drawn to the peace and quiet—a sharp contrast to his career in health care.

Fletcher launched Re-balanceMD in 2013 with a team of orthopaedic specialists to help ease access to musculoskeletal care. Since then, the company has grown to a team of 200, tapped into rheumatology and opened a cardiac division called Pulse C3. It’s also opening third clinic, this time in Vancouver.

With his workdays full of people management and strategic decision-making, Fletcher looks forward to meditative activities like gardening and beekeeping to practice slow living. As a result, his personal life is abuzz in a different way: last year, Fletcher’s bees, which visit nearby maple and blackberry crops for nectar sources, filled 12 large and 24 small jars with dark, spicy honey—all in one day. And he predicts that’ll happen again this year.

RebalanceMD CEO Stefan Fletcher
Credit: Lillie Louise Major

“I have a hive that’s just arrived from New Zealand,” says Fletcher. Apparently, that’s common—with bee seasons varying around the world, access to boxed hives from different hemispheres allows B.C. keepers to have more prolific summers. So they’ll receive anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 bees in the mail to get a head start or to replace hives lost to cold snaps in the winter. “The queen is in a cage—that’s how they transport them—and I released a little clip in the cage which allows the queen and its attendants to eat their way out and join the rest of the bees. So this afternoon I’ve got to make sure that she’s escaped her cage, and hopefully will start laying soon and start the cycle all over again.”

Zooming out, Fletcher’s backyard is a sight to see in summer and spring: it includes fruit trees, a robust vegetable garden, 80 or so bonsais in various stages of growth (“Drives my wife crazy,” jokes Fletcher) and a small bespoke greenhouse that he built using secondhand materials last year.

Fletcher’s longtime love for gardening led to a curiosity about propagating Japanese maple seeds and bonsais, which are fully mature trees that have been kept to a reduced size. He began collecting and caring for them five years ago, around the same time that he started beekeeping: “I found a couple of trees that were being sold inexpensively because they were half-dead, and I thought they would make great bonsais.”

RebalanceMD CEO Stefan Fletcher
Credit: Lillie Louise Major

Some he bred himself, others he picked up. Some are three inches, others three feet. “If you have a tree that’s had damage from frost or wind, or has been hit with drought and is still alive but doesn’t have the robustness to be a full-sized tree, you’ve all of a sudden got a really decent foundation to be able to create a bonsai, which is kind of like a piece of art that otherwise would just be thrown away,” Fletcher explains. “I’ve got a little lemon tree outside my door right now that has six little baby lemons on it, and it’s a bonsai, which is pretty cool.”

As it stands, patience is the root of all of Fletcher’s pursuits. Change is slow—in growing bonsais, in raising bees, in bridging gaps in health care—but it’s also rewarding, says Fletcher. “It’s sustainable, it’s a pleasure, it’s a routine and, equally so, as I look toward—at some point in my life—retirement, it’s a hobby that you can share with friends and family, and it also creates some meaning to your day. There’s nothing like eating good food out of your garden, there’s nothing like having honey from your garden, and there’s nothing like sharing that with your friends.”

Warrior Spotlight

Stefan Fletcher started RebalanceMD to deliver orthopaedic musculoskeletal care in Victoria. Since 2013, the company has branched into divisions like cardiology, grown to a team of 200 and received awards from UBC and UVic for its innovative teaching approach. “People didn’t think that we would last, but we proved them wrong,” says Fletcher, who celebrated the firm’s 10-year anniversary in 2023, the same year that he was named a finalist in EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year – Pacific Region program.