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2021 In Review: Bee-ing our Best Selves, Pandemic Edition!



After nearly a full year of adapting to life amidst a pandemic, it is important to take a step back and reflect on all you have accomplished. Living life from behind a computer screen has proved to be difficult for most, and yet, we have learned to persevere and produce some of our best work remotely. At Planet Bee, we have continued to provide standards based environmental STEM education to the next generation’s sustainable leaders as well as collaborate with our partners to promote pollinator-friendly behaviors in the workplace. From striking up new partnerships to expanding our STEM lessons into new states and even countries, we got the chance to “bee” the best version of ourselves, even from a distance

Bee-Ometry virtual lesson makes math fun while learning about hexagon honeycomb
Bee-Ometry virtual lesson makes math fun while learning about hexagon honeycomb

We kept buzz-y with our commitment to social justice by working with nearly 30,000 students while simultaneously offering our new Hybrid STEM Program to schools at no to low extra cost thanks to our generous donors and grantmakers. This new program is made up of four distinct components: asynchronous video lessons, real-time synchronous STEM lessons, professional development workshops, and Local Beekeeper Day Programs. The curriculum is centered around the bee and is structured to promote environmentalism and conservation behavior in the classroom and beyond. All of our lessons align with NGSS and the Common Core and are available to students K-12th. To top it off, we introduced Beekeeper Day, giving the students an opportunity to interact with local beekeepers and observe a hive up close!

Beekeeper Day at Rocket Ship Rising Stars Academy in San Jose, CA
Beekeeper Day at Rocket Ship Rising Stars Academy in San Jose, CA

Even though most classes and community programs moved online, we were able to continue our Adopt-A-Hive Program by bee-ing mindful of one another and maintaining social distance. We partnered with local schools and organizations such as Visitacion Valley Middle School, Francisco Middle School, Hacienda Peralta in Oakland, Sisterhood Gardens in San Francisco, and Marin Catholic High School, and even got the chance to buzz over to different states, expanding our reach to Pennsylvanian teachers at the GIANT Company Apiary!

Professional development workshop with educators from Lee County School District, FL
Professional development workshop with educators from Lee County School District, FL

By expanding our virtual partnerships and simultaneously developing streamable learning services, we were able to connect with students in Chicago, Pennsylvania, and even bee-yond our borders in Canada! Connected North helped bring our services to remote Canadian Indigenous communities, enabling us to educate and work with students all the way up in the Arctic Circle.


Fresh Fair Friday table with observation hive &  games at the GIANT Company HQ, Carlisle PA
Fresh Fair Friday table with observation hive & games at the GIANT Company HQ, Carlisle PA

Community Resources for Science is a nonprofit that works with schools in the East Bay and aims to connect teachers to scientific classes and education. We provided them with professional development workshops for educators in California and across the nation. We also partnered with the Bay Area Science Festival and “tabled” online during their virtual event, teaching students about the importance of bees and how to help them through our Bee-Ometry lesson (bees love math!) and providing them with educational materials and conservation activities to complete at home. We also had one of the highest attendances during our virtual workshop out of all the participating nonprofits!

And of course, we kept ourselves busy maintaining our 2,000,000 honey bees in and around the Bay Area! Our little fuzzy friends can be found at schools, community gardens, and corporate campuses such as Google, Stanford University, and Sutro Tower. It is crucial to protect these populations considering how important bees are to the global ecosystem.

Sisterhood Garden, SF, CA Stewardship Kit Day with local communities

During the summer, we held a workshop at Sisterhood Gardens and distributed 250 stewardship kits to the neighboring community. Sisterhood Gardens received 25 of these kits and all of them were given to kids during a tabling event. We had four separate stations: an observation hive with live bees, a seed ball stewardship activity, a local librarian, and a table set aside for arts and crafts. We were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to table at this event and help bring the community together.


Honey Harvest Workshop with Stanford University Students
Honey Harvest Workshop with Stanford University Students

Now we turn our gaze to Pennsylvania. In July, our partner The GIANT Company donated a whopping $631,530.47 towards our cause as part of their register round-up campaign. Over the span of three months, GIANT’s customers chose to “round up” at the register, helping impact more students and educators across Pennsylvania. We are incredibly grateful for this effort, as this money will go towards the implementation of STEM lessons, agricultural education, and conservation techniques in schools all over the state. We are also fortunate to be working hand-in-hand with Pennsylvania’s Department of Education, sponsored by The GIANT Company, helping us provide our lessons to schools for no cost in our commitment to social justice.


Sisterhood Garden, SF, CA Stewardship Kit Day with local communities
Sisterhood Garden, SF, CA Stewardship Kit Day with local communities

Along with our successful venture into Pennsylvanian education and partnerships, Planet Bee was also able to implement some community programs in various locations across the state. Fresh Air Friday brought communities together to promote nutrition and outdoor recreation. Families played traditional backyard games and also had the opportunity to interact with local vendors and participate in giveaways. We also partnered with Pennsylvanian libraries, where kids and families got the chance to observe beehives and were taught about the importance of honey bees and their impact on the food chain as well as numerous ecosystems. Lastly, we will be attending the Farm Show side by side with our sponsor, The GIANT Company. This agricultural fair will include local vendors and promote agricultural science. We would not have been able to do all this without our Pennsylvanian partner, GIANT, and want to thank them for helping us pursue our mission.


Professional Development Hive-Dive with PA STEM instructors in partnership with PA Department of Ed
Professional Development Hive-Dive with PA STEM instructors in partnership with PA Department of Ed

This spring we launched unique hands-on corporate programs that promote team building and employee engagement - from afar! We are proud to introduce Virtual Honey Tasting, a program that allows employees or team members to taste honey we send right to their front door while engaging with knowledgeable instructors online. The virtual workshop component teaches participants to evaluate honey by color, smell, and taste! This enables those still working from home to remain in contact with one another.


For companies who have returned to in-person operations, we encourage them to try out our Native Bee House Building workshop, which will start again in the spring! Planet Bee provides team members with kits to assemble bee hives for our little fuzzy friends, and completed hives will be placed into STEM kits and sent to students at local schools. Corporations can also choose to house a beehive on their campus through Adopt-A-Hive and join companies such as Google, Sutro Towers, and The GIANT Company, all of which have participated in this program. All funds raised through these corporate workshops go towards our STEM programs and help educate thousands of students across the country.


Education material from our corporate virtual team-building honey tasting workshop with Western Digital, USA
Education material from our corporate virtual team-building honey tasting workshop with Western Digital, USA

As the year comes to a close, we’d like to thank our corporate partners, donors, grantmakers, volunteers, and interns for making everything we do possible!

A gigantic thank you and shoutout to CodeCrew, an email marketing agency based in the Bay Area, for their generous in-kind donation that includes sending out beautiful newsletters each week!


A special thank you to our corporate partners The GIANT Company, Hannaford Grocery, Google, BeeSure USA, Western Digital, VMWare, Cisco, KIND snacks, The Food Group, Harry Barker, Survey Monkey, NVIDIA, Pestec, Sutro Tower, True Liberty Bags, Duck Foot Brewery, Rice Coffeehouse, Vitalibis, Rhea Bikini, and Burroughs Family Farm, whose funds support our Hybrid STEM programs in schools for no cost in our commitment to social justice.


A huge thank you to our grantmakers for their generous contributions over the course of the past year. Thank you to Western Digital, The Joseph and Vera Long Foundation, FS Foundation for working with us on the Stewardship Kits, Manitou, Mydar Foundation, and Clif Bar for helping us with our teachers’ salaries, VMWare, and KINDsnacks for changeup at checkout.


Wanna- Bee- An Engineer? Virtual lesson with students from Connected North, Canada
Wanna- Bee- An Engineer? Virtual lesson with students from Connected North, Canada

Another special thank you to our team for bee-ing on top of everything, even amidst the craziness of this past year. Thank you to our educators, Danielle Klein, Leigh Gay, Gigi McBee, Ashley Velasquez, and Dr. Jason Graham, our beekeepers, our volunteers, and our interns.


And while we would love to keep everyone on our team going into the new year, we must bid adieu to our beloved program manager, Haley, and our project coordinator, Claire. Thank you for all the time you devoted to Planet Bee and we look forward to seeing what you will both accomplish in your new roles elsewhere.


Planet Bee interns & educators during a difficult virtual work session!
Planet Bee interns & educators during a difficult virtual work session!

Please help us in welcoming our new project coordinator, Tashia! We are so excited to have her on the team and can’t wait to put her talents to work.


Lastly, thank you to our individual donors! Your contributions help us educate and nurture the next generation of sustainable leaders. We wouldn’t be able to usher in this new age of environmental stewardship without all of you.


Bee on the lookout for next year’s buzz in 2022! As always, thanks for sticking with us, and bee well this holiday season.


Welcome Tashia James!

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Written by Simona Shur, Lehigh University

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