The Bee Conservancy’s Sponsor-a-Hive program gives schools and community groups the opportunity to get a free bee house to help native bees.
Environmental nonprofit The Bee Conservancy has opened applications for the 2021 Sponsor-a-Hive program. This gives schools, gardens, and other community groups across the U.S. and Canada a chance to help mitigate a major environmental crisis and bolster communities using free native bee homes. This spring, The Bee Conservancy will deliver 500 homes — 200 from last fall’s awardees and 300 for the 2021 awardees. This is the largest campaign of its kind in the six-year-history of the program.
Sponsor-a-Hive gifts native bee houses, ongoing support, and educational materials to awardees chosen for their commitments to environmental stewardship, education, and food justice. With their guardianships of local bee populations, the awardees also help empower underserved communities to grow food, bolster local ecology, all while protecting keystone species.
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Native Bees Are At Risk
The Bee Conservancy’s unprecedented expansion of its flagship program — extending for the first time into Canada — comes at a critical time. Currently, 1 in 4 of North America’s 4,000 bee species is at risk of extinction. A staggering report released last month found that 25 percent of wild bees have disappeared across the globe have disappeared in the last 30 years.
Native bees are a particularly important puzzle piece for a healthy ecosystem: Those species are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of flowering plants around the world, according to the United States Geological Survey. Bee pollination yields more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year, the government agency reports.
“To mitigate an environmental crisis of this scale, it takes a hive,” says Guillermo Fernandez, founder and executive director of The Bee Conservancy. “We are all impacted by declines in bee populations and the toll their loss takes on the environment. We are thrilled that Sponsor-a-Hive unites a broad range of populations from schools, nature preserves, food banks, community gardens and more in the fight for pollinator security.”
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Sustainable Hives Help Create Green Jobs
The program also contributes to safeguarding a larger ecosystem. Designed with sustainability, bee health, and user-friendliness in mind, each bee house is constructed with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, sustainably-sourced pine. The houses are manufactured by Brooklyn Woods. This organization trains unemployed and low-income New Yorkers in woodworking. It offers some graduates one of the first paying jobs of their careers.
“Sponsor-a-Hive isn’t just about protecting bees,” says Rebecca Louie, TBC’s managing director. “It’s about bringing people together to engage with nature, grow food and community bonds, and build economic opportunities in the green sector.”
Applications will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on April 30.
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