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.”