Honeybees are more important than their small size might indicate—they pollinate one-third of U.S. agriculture. And they're dying rapidly. Honeydrop Beverages, a company that produces juices and teas made with honey, is understandably concerned about the supply of their featured ingredient in the face of colony collapse disorder. So the beverage manufacturer recently launched the Buy a Bottle, Save a Bee initiative—a program that will donate a percentage of profits from beverages to beekepers across the country.
In the New York area, for example, Honeydrop is partnering with Andrew Cote of Silvermine Apiary. Cote keeps over 200 hives, sells his wares in Union Square Greenmarket, and is the founder of Bees Without Borders—a non-profit that teaches beekeeping best practices to communities around the world. The program has already helped beekeepers in Iraq, the Niger Delta, and Southern India.
The North American honeybee population is almost entirely reliant on beekeepers (there are few wild honeybees), and while there are a handful of mega-beekeepers in the U.S. that pollinate large farms, smaller beekeepers are instrumental in keeping the population going. According to Honeydrop, each new beehive increases the bee population by 40,000 to 60,000 bees.
Until we find the root cause of colony collapse disorder—whether that's pesticides, a virus, electromagnetic radiation, or something else—campiagns like Buy a Bottle, Save a Bee can only help so much. But for now, they are all we have.
[Image: Flickr user Vibrant Spirit]