nearBees delivers local honey right to your doorstep, empowering local beekeepers, uniting neighborhoods, and raising social awareness for the preservation of a vital species.
What's All the Buzz About?
It is no secret that our world’s bee population, essential to the present and future survival of each and every earthly species, teeters dangerously on the verge of extinction. Anyone who’s had his or her hands on a copy of Michael Schacker’s gripping volume “A Spring Without Bees,” or any number of similar materials, can attest to the urgency of their haunting message. Despite recent efforts to halt egregious and irreversible losses in native bee diversity – the last 100 years have witnessed the disappearance of up to fifty percent of bee species – Colony Collapse Disorder continues to desecrate bee populations worldwide, endangering not only the fate of our food supply, but also the health and wellness of our larger biological community.
Given that one third of all food production relies on the existence of bees and other pollinators, the European Commission was forced to confront the gravity of this impending ecological disaster in 2013; ultimately, the Commission’s plan to restrict the use of three major neonicitinoids thought responsible for global bee decline was necessary, but not sufficient.
Such heinous realities as pesticide poisoning, habitat loss, and decreased floral diversity necessitate the existence of social businesses that seek to protect and provide broader community awareness of local bee populations and the variety of valuable products made possible by their nectar. Only by entirely transforming the destructive chemical-intensive agricultural system, banning all bee-harming pesticides, and promoting ecological farming, can we hope to impede this acute international crisis.
Enter nearBees, a Munich-based social startup and one of two winners in the Ben & Jerry’s “Join Our Core” competition. Founded by Victoria Schmidt, and realized with the help of Michael Gelhaus, Kristian Knobloch, and Dominik Cancer, nearBees seeks to bring the “honey search” home, providing you the opportunity to discover the rich variety of flavors and consistencies produced by honeybees almost in your own backyard.
Think of it as Google for honey – just enter your address on the nearBees website and – voila! – you’ll instantly be able to identify bee colonies in your immediate vicinity. Via the website’s interactive map feature, you can explore a variety of local beekeepers currently collaborating with the young social business, and familiarize yourself with the “bees next door.” By investigating the honey supplies in your own and adjacent neighborhoods you can, quite literally, taste the blossoms that surround you.
Way To Bee
Vital to the pollination of flora in urban as well as rural areas, honeybees are central to the preservation and prosperity of natural diversity in Germany and abroad. “Beekeeping has a long tradition in my family,” Viktoria explains. “Some years ago my grandfather surrendered beekeeping due to age reasons and suddenly there were no more cherries in the trees of his garden. That’s when I realized the interrelation between bees, men and nature. So I decided to follow my grandfather and become a beekeeper - but I went even a step further..."
This anecdote in mind, Viktoria founded nearBees first and foremost to strengthen the livelihood of local amateur beekeepers - for whom collaboration with the company allows for direct sale of honey at a fair price - as well as to encourage the creation and maintenance of environmentally sustainable neighborhoods countrywide. “These bees meet you daily from your balcony plants, or in the flowering gardens of your neighborhood,” the nearBees site proclaims, as it urges the public to forge an authentic, sustainable connection with their species-rich natural surroundings.
Diverse payment options and home delivery make accessing raw, high-quality, locally sourced honey fast, inexpensive, and, most of all, easy: no synthetic flavoring, no exorbitant shipping fees, no bullshit. Alongside your honey – delivered in an envelope as eco-friendly as it is fetching – you’ll receive reusable custom labels highlighting the location of the bee colony where your particular fare was produced.
"Keeping" It Real
Things are equally painless for the keepers themselves. A lack of innovation in the honey industry – fragile packaging, high shipping costs – renders online stores like Ebay and Etsy unrealistic options for product distribution. With no membership fees, no expectations of high output or expensive equipment, and fair commission, nearBees proves an excellent alternative. By creating an “innovative platform” from which to promote social and ecological responsibility, nearBees provides neighborhood beekeepers access to an oft inaccessible niche market – those eager to indulge in the unique flavors of their community and engage in conscientious consumption. As a result, local suppliers can connect directly with you – the customer – an otherwise difficult endeavor for artisanal vendors. In our opinion, the familiarity of knowing the suppliers, of knowing the bees, makes it all just that much…sweeter. Fair trade, fair prices - everybody wins.
No Pesticides, No Problem
By choosing honey sourced locally rather than found on your grocery store shelves, you can effect more positive change than you might ever imagine. Purchasing honey from artisanal beekeepers not only encourages the flourishing of small local businesses, but also that of natural habitats right around the corner; minimized transport distances and eco-friendly containers guarantee a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and material waste compared to traditional packaging and delivery. With nearBees, you can promote the consumption of pure, untreated ingredients, as well as help ensure that beekeepers keep doing what they do best – caring for their bees – who, in turn, sustain a healthy, blooming neighborhood. In short, help the bees help the world!
Even if honey isn’t your indulgence of choice, with the help of the Ben & Jerry’s “Join Our Core” competition, you can still support nearBees’ efforts by contributing to their crowdfunding campaign. Better yet, forgo that last Vodka Mate, and “adopt” your very own honeybee for the low, low price of 5 EUR.
nearBees meets Jerry Greenfield, Founder of Ben and Jerry's.
This content was presented in collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s. Their “Join Our Core” competition aims to identify and support up-and-coming social businesses primed to effect significant societal change.
Originally published June 10, 2015