Building buzz about bees

 Kids are learning the power of bees.

 

The Bee Cause Project, based in South Carolina, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering students, teachers, and community members to learn about—and protect—the bees.

 

The Bee Cause Project offers STEAM-based curriculum and educational hives to build learning opportunities in classrooms and communities. The organization, which launched in 2013 and has partnered with Bees Wrap since 2017, aims to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.

 

 

 

Building Buzz About Bees

 

Ted Dennard and Tami Enright, co-founders of The Bee Cause Project, joined forces nearly a decade ago after growing frustrated by their children’s detachment from the natural world.  Dennard, founder of the Savannah Bee Company in Georgia, and Enright, a beekeeper and environmental educator in South Carolina, were troubled by their children’s lack of understanding about where their food comes from and the role that nature plays.

 

 

“Ted and Tami both live by the beach with their families, and they are very in tune with nature,” says Megan Swanson, programs manager of The Bee Cause Project. “However, they were finding that their kids weren’t really learning in school about how connected we are with nature, or how that connectedness makes us stronger as communities.”

 

Since its inception, The Bee Cause Project has provided grants to more than 550 schools and organizations, helping hundreds of children, teachers, and communities across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas.

 

 

The grants are known as Bee Grants, which are made possible largely in part through a partnership with the Whole Kids Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Whole Foods Market. The Bee Grants help guide K-12 schools and nonprofits—such as libraries, museums, and nature centers—through the process of installing and maintaining their own educational hives and pollinator curriculum.

 

 

Over the past three years, Bee’s Wrap has partnered with The Bee Cause to sponsor observational hives at three elementary schools: North Branch School in Ripton, Vermont, Bingham Memorial School in Cornwall, Vermont, and the Epstein Hillel School in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

 

Bee a Friend to Pollinators Curriculum

 

In 2020, The Bee Cause Project approached Bee’s Wrap to sponsor its new curriculum, Bee a Friend to Pollinators, which was developed in partnership with Clemson Cooperative Extension.  The curriculum is Common Core compliant and helps children explore their homes, school campuses, libraries, nature centers, and outdoor spaces for pollinator habitat readiness. 

 

 

For Swanson, who joined The Bee Cause Project two years ago, the ability to offer ready-to-go, Common Core compliant lesson plans that can be used in classrooms, schools, or from a distance was one of her goals for the organization.

 

“We want people to visit locations and be able to go home and have ownership. Even if a child lives in an apartment on the 35th floor in a big city, we want them to be able to walk to a local park and say, ‘OK, I can still do this lesson plan, and I have ownership over this greenspace because it’s in my city,’” Swanson says. “We don’t ever want kids to feel like they don’t have accessibility to every single lesson plan. And this is why the Bee a Friend to Pollinators curriculum is so great.”

 

The curriculum is specifically developed for children in grades 3 to 5, but Swanson envisions the plan to grow over the years and be adapted for middle school and high school students.

 

So far, the Bee a Friend to Pollinators curriculum has been shared with 2,500 educators, and Swanson anticipates the demand will only grow from there.

 

 

“With this specific lesson plan, our objectives are to make exploring habitats accessible for everyone,” Swanson says. “Whether it’s your school campus, backyard, local park, or a little patch of grass on the sidewalk, they all have the potential to be a healthy habitat for pollinators. Ultimately, we want to strengthen the connection to our shared environment with pollinators, enabling bees and curious minds alike to thrive.”

 

 

 

Find a copy of The Bee Cause’s Bee a Friend to Pollinators curriculum on TheBeeCause.org.

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For a long time, conventional wisdom had it that companies shouldn’t tackle hot-button political issues. That’s advice borne out of fear: the fear that, in exchange for voicing our opinions, we risk angering customers or losing sales. 

As the founder and CEO of Bee’s Wrap, I’m motivated these days by a greater fear: that, should our elected officials fail to act on the crisis of climate change, the damage we cause to our planet will be irreversible, negatively impacting our families, our communities, and our ecosystems forever.

As a Certified B Corp, Bee’s Wrap is committed to using business as a force for good. We make sustainable products that reduce single-use plastics, use environmentally friendly and safe ingredients, and are constantly looking for additional ways to reduce our carbon footprint. I am proud to run my company in a state that values these things too, but I know that together, we can do more. This year, Bee’s Wrap added its voice to the collective commitment of the Vermont business community to do better for our environment.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, Bee’s Wrap joined dozens of other Vermont businesses to advocate at the Statehouse for climate action policies in 2020. We participated in training, lobbying, and a press conference, as well as individual and group meetings with corresponding representatives.

While the Green Mountain State has a history of innovative environmental policies, the current climate challenges require audacious solutions. This legislative term, our lawmakers have the opportunity to pass more ambitious and much-needed policy. 

I feel it is important that our elected officials hear from the Vermont business community, as we are important stakeholders in Vermont’s economy and have an impact on the environment we all share. Our team joined others from companies like Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, Danforth Pewter, and Brattleboro Savings and Loan, along with environmental nonprofits VPIRG and 350VT, to speak directly to our elected officials and we urged them to take immediate action. Bee’s Wrap’s focus is on reducing the usage and availability of single-use plastics, increasing the accessibility of renewable energy, and prioritizing the reduction of climate pollution, and we support the comprehensive 2020 climate policy agenda outlined by VPIRG. 

Vermont’s small size and long history of participatory democracy provides an opportunity for Vermont business (and individual Vermonters) to have direct, substantial, face-to-face conversations with their own state representatives and legislative leaders. Bee’s Wrap participated in this event to advocate for our business values and shared priorities for bold climate action. We did this alongside our corporate peers, demonstrating together that the need for action is vital and urgent. I am proud to have led Bee’s Wrap in the participation of this direct demonstration of our core values and am excited to continue advocating for the necessary change that our state and world need.

Why biodegradability matters

Plastic is forever. Bee’s Wrap isn’t. And that’s by design.


Bee’s Wrap is naturally biodegradable and compostable. We started making Bee’s Wrap after growing deeply concerned about the persistent effect of plastics on our planet. Plastic never leaves us. It lingers in landfills for centuries. It enters our soil, our waterways, and our oceans, breaking down into tiny but ever-present pieces.


We set out to make an alternative, and we knew from the beginning that whatever we made needed to be biodegradable. That’s because we believe in considering the entire life of the products we make and consume, from their creation and manufacturing to their eventual end. Where does a product come from? How is it made? And crucially, what happens when we no longer need or use this item?


This is where biodegradability comes in: A product that is biodegradable can be easily returned to the earth. It’s a technology as old as time, and everything made in nature returns to nature with time. There’s no complicated recycling process, and no need to send your Bee’s Wrap off to a special facility. Made from four simple ingredients, Bee’s Wrap comes from the earth, and is designed to return to the earth. 


Importantly, what you do with naturally biodegradable materials matters. Modern landfills are lined and packed tightly, creating an oxygen-poor environment where even food can take decades to decompose. One study conducted by the University of Arizona uncovered 25-year-old hotdogs, corncobs, and grapes, as well as 50-year-old newspapers that were still readable. Food waste that decomposes in landfills also generates methane gas, which has 34 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide, according to Project Drawdown, a coalition of researchers working on climate change solutions. 


This is why composting is so important; food waste, yard waste, and other organic material holds valuable nutrients that can be returned to the soil after decomposition. The same is true for Bee’s Wrap. When your wrap has reached the end of its useful life — typically after about a year of regular use and proper care in your kitchen — you can use your wraps as a natural fire starter, or you can add them directly to your backyard compost pile. With a little time and the right environmental conditions, your Bee’s Wrap will break down into nutritious compost that you can use in your backyard garden. 


We’ve designed Bee’s Wrap to be hardworking, a trusty companion in your kitchen and on the go as you seek out plastic-free alternatives that are good for you and the planet. As your Bee’s Wrap begins to wear out, we hope you’ll look on those signs of wear and use as a welcome reminder of the natural cycles that surround us.

The joy of inconvenience

Choosing inconvenience can be an act of quiet revolution. 

For too long, we’ve been told that convenience will cure what ails us. How convenient, to find our meals prepackaged in the freezer section of our grocery store, our bread baked and sliced and stowed in plastic bags. It’s convenient to pop a load of laundry in the dryer and to have our work at our fingertips, forever accessible on the devices we carry in our pockets. We click a button and, conveniently, that which we need — or think we need — arrives on our doorstep: underwear, paper towels, a birthday gift, a box of cereal.

We don’t talk often enough about how convenience can harm us. For the convenience of a smartphone, we trade the quiet of disconnecting. For the convenience of fast and pre-packaged food, we swallow a meal that may leave us sluggish or unsatisfied. Pre-packaged meals and one-click shopping leave us with a mountain of waste bound for the recycling can or the landfill. We’ve been promised efficiency and speed, and the freedom of time. Sometimes we receive that. Sometimes we don’t. 

The truth is, there’s joy in inconvenience. In the smell of bread baked at home, the magic of a few ingredients kneaded together and turned into sustenance. There’s joy in taking laundry out to the line, in standing in the sunlight and hanging clothes to dry. There’s joy and pride in knitting a sweater, or mending a pair of jeans. 

woman wrapping homemade bread in bee's wrap sustainable food storage

We’re not arguing for a return to the past, or for a rose-colored view of the very real work that it takes to clothe and feed and nourish ourselves in a way that’s kind to our bodies and our planet. There’s a time and a place for convenience, and there’s also luxury, and privilege, in the ability to savor inconvenience. 

Is it, occasionally, inconvenient to make a meal from scratch? To bundle a sandwich in Bee’s Wrap, or to spend a few minutes at the sink, washing dishes and reusable containers and Bee’s Wrap by hand? Yes.

Sometimes, we choose the joy of inconvenience, the quiet resistance of finding a different way of moving in the world — a path that’s lighter for the planet and more fulfilling for the individual. We choose to slow down. We choose thoughtfulness. We choose reuse. And we find, in those habits, new satisfaction.