It’s easy to find reasons to Sponsor-A-Hive. Bees are essential to healthy ecosystems and to our food supply at large. Estimates suggest that bees alone pollinate a third of the United States’ food supply. In addition, hobby bee keeping has assumed an important role in long-term pollinator conservation. Through hobby bee keeping, bee houses provided by Sponsor-A-Hive will be an invaluable tool to help bolster bee populations, advance science and environmental education, and pollinate local farms and gardens, particularly in areas that would otherwise lack access to fresh, local food.
There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to increase the number of bee houses across America — here are just a few.
1. Bolster Bee Populations
For about a decade, bees have been dying off at an unprecedented rate. According to a study by the USDA and a partnership of bee groups, 42% of managed honeybee colonies died between April 2014 to April 2015, which is the second-highest rate in nine years. The total loss of domesticated honeybee hives in the United States worth an estimated $2 billion.
Underscoring the extent of the problem, In 2005, U.S. farmers had to import honeybees for the first time in 80 years due to a shortage of honey bee colonies for pollination of almond crops in California. The U.S. has fewer managed honey bee colonies today than it did in 1945.
Wild bees and other pollinators are also experiencing a decline. 50 percent of Midwestern native bee species disappeared from their home ranges over the last century.
The bee die-off threatens nearly 100 commercial crops—or $15 billion worth of crops—that require bee pollination. In 2008, U.S. farmers told a U.S. House Agriculture subcommittee that the honey bee crisis could result in up to a ten-fold increase in food prices. Says ecologist Laura Burkle of Montana State University
2. Bee houses can advance education
Schools and other educational institutions across the U.S. are reshaping their schoolyards with school gardens, pollinator patches, and wildlife habitats that include active bee houses.
A bee house is a science class in a box, affording a perfect vehicle for lessons in biology, environment and nutrition. Through a Sponsor-a-Hive bee house, teachers can advance education not just in science but across multiple areas. Educators can work with students to develop practical skills of observation and measurement, ideal for connected learning. Kids can learn about science, ecology, agriculture, food sources, societal structure, mutual cooperation, and even history. All by caring for and observing the activity of bees maintained in onsite bee houses.
We launched our Sponsor-A-Hive Teacher’s Kit, a companion to our grant program. The Sponsor-A-Hive Teacher’s Kit educates youth about the importance of bees and what can be done to save them.
3. Support local food initiatives
Did you know that between 2008 to 2013, the number of community gardens in the United States jumped from 1 million to 3 million, a 200% increase? Also, according to a report by the National Gardening Association, food gardening by people living in urban areas increased 29% to 9 million urban gardeners. Most of these community gardens provide thousands of pounds of healthy produce to local residents including nearby schools, food banks and senior citizen centers. A growing number of community gardens also provide garden education by offering plots of land to adult and young gardeners.
Beekeeping is a crucial component to any local food initiative. Honey and solitary bees provide much needed pollination. Bee pollination increases fruit and vegetable size at yield, speeds up maturity, and even produces a more symmetrical fruit shape. Sponsor-A-Hive bee houses will provide much needed pollination, thereby promoting self-sufficiency and food security via local food.
4. Inspire communities to act as stewards for bees and their natural environment
One of the best ways to increase awareness about the many benefits of honey bees and solitary bees and to decrease the collapse of their populations is through outreach and education. People have a natural curiosity about the world around them and a willingness to help solve problems when invited to do so.
The Sponsor-a-Hive bee houses are are placed in school gardens and other green spaces where they can serve as a valuable environmental and educational resource. The bee houses will raise awareness about the importance of bees and the challenges to their survival and to inspire individuals – especially students – to help boost bee populations, strengthen our environment and maintain our food supply.
5. Improve Quality of Life
For some urban dwellers, bee houses are a small box of calm in the midst of an increasingly busy world. Bee houses reminds us of cycles of nature, the flow of the seasons, the transition from flower to fruit. Bee watching is a quiet, soothing hobby and a great break from the day-to-day. Not only do bee houses help you connect to your food source, you will connect more easily with these life rhythms.
Sponsor-A-Hive bee houses will serve as educational magnets for school field trips and community group visits. For example, existing BeeVillage hives attract local school field trips, as well as tourists and locals who watch the hives and interact with the beekeepers.
Interested in Applying for a Sponsor-A-Hive Grant?
Visit our Frequently Asked Questions pages for more information. Sponsor-A-Hive gives school gardens, neighborhood gardens and local nonprofit organizations the chance to win a material grant donation that will benefit local communities. The Sponsor-A-Hive grant includes bees, a bee house and beekeeping equipment.
Would you Like to Support Sponsor-A-Hive?
Your donation helps us increase the number of bee houses we can distribute. You can also support local bees by creating a bee garden, by supporting your local beekeeper or other ways outlined in our What You Can Do page.
We are a project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Your donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. No goods or services were provided for this gift. Please consult your tax advisor regarding specific questions about your deductions.