Bee the Change: Honeybees point the way to a better world

It’s National Honeybee Day this Saturday, Aug. 20, and in spite of the threats facing honeybee populations in many areas, the Asheville-based Friends of Honeybees wants to celebrate.

Established to promote and support honey bee research, expand community-based beekeeping, and promote natural beekeeping and the development of regionally-adapted honeybees, Friends of Honeybees is using the opportunity to launch a new program it’s calling “Bee the Change.”

Taking its name from the familiar quote from Mahatma Gandhi (“Be the change you want to see in the world”), the campaign plans to designate a portion of its income for donations to other non-profits, causes and charities, whether or not they relate to honeybees.  “Establishing ‘Bee the Change’ is how Friends of Honeybees is stepping up to Gandhi’s challenge,” says Friends of Honeybees founder and president, N’ann Harp.

Friends of Honeybees says it will make a $50 contribution toward the cause or charity of the buyer’s choice when they purchase the campaign’s signature piece of jewelry, the Life’s Work Amulet, which contains a droplet of honey, the amount produced by a single bee in its lifetime – one twelfth of a teaspoon.

It’s the bees’ own business model, Harp says. “Our organization is simply putting into practice Nature’s own lesson in cross-species-partnership that says, ‘You help me.  I’ll help you. We’ll both benefit and thrive.”  It’s been the bees’ highly-successful approach for thousands of years, she says, and it makes sense for us too: it’s estimated that over a third of our diet depends on pollination services provided by bees.

“We are also working directly with non-profit organizations to create dynamic fund-generation mechanisms for mutually-beneficial mission goals,” Harp notes. A Bee the Change product catalog is in development and is expected to launch in mid-2012.

Honeybee populations continue to plummet across the U.S., according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture annual report of losses over the winter of 2010-11.  Similar reports of colony loss continue around the world.  Problems facing honeybees and beekeeping include Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is characterized by the unexplained disappearance of honeybee colonies from their hives.  Genetics, pests, immuno-weakness and the unknown long-term effects of non-lethal exposure to widely-used agricultural chemicals are all believed to be factors in the honeybees’ struggle to survive.

As a practical matter, Harp asserts, “Honeybees don’t need humans.  Even if the bees are forced to hunker down and go into survival mode, with their 70-million-year head start on our species, they will in all likelihood be able to tough it out.  On the other hand, without honeybees…the human species would starve to death in a few short years.” 

“Friends of Honeybees trusts the judgment of our supporters.  If they think a particular cause, in addition to preserving honeybees, is important, Bee the Change is listening and will pitch in, too.” She hopes the project will ultimately help build “a stronger global network – the human colony – learning that working together works best for all.”



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4 thoughts on “Bee the Change: Honeybees point the way to a better world

  1. Media Watcher

    This is the second article this reporter has written about Friends of Honeybees, asking people to buy one of its products. Why is she promoting this particular business without doing her homework? Friends of Honeybees is not a nonprofit, as the reporter states. It is registered as a for-profit corporation with the State of North Carolina. While the corporation’s website says it will donate $50 of every sale of its primary product, the Life’s Work Amulet, it sells the product for $150, leaving the company with a tidy profit. As a privately-held for-profit company, the financial records of this company are not available to the public to see where their “donations” may be going.

    The nonprofit called Friends of Honeybees is a different corporation, incorporated in 2008, and with no apparent track record of activity. Its website is offline. It has not filed a report with Guidestar, the main source for public information on nonprofits.

    The editors may want to ask this reporter to do some fact-checking.

  2. chiponthecreek

    Honeybees are good for the world as pollenators, a great hobby, interesting to watch, and producers of honey! What more can I say?

  3. Susan Andrew

    Our reporters don’t endorse any particular product line, but in view of honeybees’ ecological significance, and particularly their role in supporting food economies, we’ll continue to be interested in stories on local efforts that could help these insects. Before we ran our earlier story about Friends of Honeybees back in January, we checked with the NC Secretary of State regarding FOHB’s nonprofit status, and found that there are two linked organizations, one with non-profit status, and one that is described as a for-profit, cause-oriented entity, presumably to help fund the efforts of the non-profit. This arrangement is not uncommon; Goodwill Industries is a familiar example. So thanks to Media Watcher for providing an opportunity to clarify, since there is the potential for confusion.

  4. linda ransome

    I would love to have a life’s work amulet. Where can I purchase it. I prefer the one with the little bee on it. Thank you.

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