The Bee Cause Project
The Bee Cause Project
The Bee Cause Project is a Charleston, South Carolina based non-profit organization that works to engage students of all ages within their own environments through observation-based learning. The STEAM-based curriculum, educational hives, and international network build learning opportunities in classrooms and communities, in order to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. Ted Dennard, a lifelong beekeeper and the founder of Savannah Bee Company, and Tami Enright, a beekeeper and environmental educator, both dedicated their lives to protecting pollinators. The pair partnered to install the first observation hive at Sullivan’s Island Elementary School in South Carolina, and shortly after, The Bee Cause Project became a 501c3 organization and later secured a national partnership with the Whole Kids Foundation. Alongside the Bee Cause Project sponsors, beekeepers, educators and community members, the organization has since provided Bee Grants to more than 550 schools and organizations, impacting thousands of children across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
Pollinators are representative of the interdependent and interconnected design of the ecological systems on which all species depend. Bees are responsible for pollinating 70% of the top 100 food crops worldwide, accounting for 90 percent of the world’s nutrition. According to the White House, pollinators contribute more than 24 billion dollars to the U.S. economy, of which honey bees account for more than 15 billion dollars through their vital role in keeping fruits, nuts and vegetables in our diets. Actual harvested honey alone contributed $317.1 million to the economy. These hardworking insects are also busy pollinating a wide variety of other plants, providing food for other animals, and in the case of honeybees, producing wax, honey and propolis. According to the USDA, a honey bee colony is worth 100 times more to the community than to the beekeeper—meaning the value they deliver extends well beyond their actual price.
The collapse of bee populations has become the canary in the coal mine for the environmental movement, indicating a systemic issue with the health of the natural world. In a time when many people are overwhelmed by the challenges posed by climate change, helping to save the bees provides an empowering action for the individual, further illustrating the importance of these “small but mighty” insects. Symbolic of altruism, collaboration, hard work, and natural engineering, bees have a lot to teach their human neighbors. The very act of stewarding honey bees provides an opportunity for individuals to take action and expand their own experience, knowledge and perspective.
It was in the spirit of making a difference through conservation and education that the Bee Cause Project was founded. The honey bee grant and observation hive were designed to provide the framework, tools and training for schools to take an active role in saving the bees by bringing them into the classroom. Annually, the Bee Cause opens its call for applicants and receives an overwhelming response to the program with hundreds of schools applying to participate. Currently, there are hundreds of schools on the waiting list to receive a bee grant for their school. According to participating schools and applicants, teachers are seeking hands-on, nature-based tools to support them in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) education. For the Bee Cause, STEAM leaders will play a crucial role in addressing the global environmental issues we are facing today.
While the Bee Cause project has only been around for a decade, the honey bee has been around for approximately 30 million years, but the species is struggling. The Bee Cause Project hopes that its curricula, virtual field trips, book club challenges and other educational opportunities help students learn the STEAM subjects they need to know now and to continue to value and protect the bee and its environment in their own futures and careers.
Live bee grants is how the organization started, but they always provide an alternative for schools that cannot host a live beehive for whatever reason — if a school can’t have live bees, then they can watch videos or take this virtual field trips. They even launched a Pollinator Garden grant for Libraries to implement on their campuses and share with their communities.
To encourage a spirit of collaboration and community, the Bee Cause created the Pay-it-Forward program, which allows schools to not only generate funds for their own maintenance costs beyond the initial program year but also raise funds to support other schools in the implementation of a bee hive program. In partnership with the Savannah Bee Company, the Bee Cause provides schools with beautifully packaged 100% pure wildflower honey bottled by Savannah Bee Company that retails at $15 a bottle. For each bottle sold, $5 will go towards the host school’s funds and $10 goes towards helping another school pay for the installation of a beehive in their own school.
How to Get Involved
Just as the bees rely on many hands making light work, the Bee Cause is successful due to its strong collaborative relationships. The foundational partners for the organization are the schools, their administration, and often the local school boards. Plus, local beekeeping organizations across the country are the backbone of direct service for the projects. These groups are also interested in increasing the bee population, educating the public on the importance of bees, and dispelling harmful myths about bees. The Bee Cause works with these organizations to facilitate a relationship between the schools and the beekeeping associations while providing both parties with best practices and guidance. The program also relies on local volunteers to help monitor the hives during the school year and keep an eye on the hives during breaks in the season.
More for important on the Bee Cause, visit: https://www.thebeecause.org/