Did you know that June is National Pollinator Month? It sounds funny, but as "Snapshot" learned while documenting last Sunday's Give Bees a Chance dinner at Emmer & Rye – one of five nationwide fundraiser meals organized by Whole Foods' Whole Kids Foundation, which funds grants for gardens and apiaries (bee hives) in schools – understanding the context is essential to human survival. One in three bites of food we eat – essentially all fruits and vegetables – is thanks to natural pollinators like honey bees, which are increasingly endangered due to the destruction of habitats via urban sprawl and widespread pesticide use. By documenting this dinner and a subsequent visit to Small Middle School, the most recent of five local grant recipients over seven years, "Snapshot" discovered what all the buzz is about.
Sunday's dinner raised $2,000 for future Austin school apiaries. "Mostly, we fund school gardens, because we know that when kids grow food, they're much more willing to eat food," said Nona Evans, executive director at Whole Kids Foundation. "When you have gardens, you have bees. The lessons that come from hosting a hive are immense."
The Emmer & Rye hive at work: "If bees became extinct, most of what this meal was would not exist," said head chef/owner Kevin Fink (left, preparing a cucumber and honey salad). "There are just so many fallout effects to what that is – I know it would be catastrophic."
The Honey Bee (above) – made with Waterloo Gin, Balcones Rumble (a spirit of figs and honey in the style of bourbon), peaches, lime juice, orange vinegars, and honey – and a strawberry and honey sorbet with salted cream (below).
Small Middle School principal Matt Nelson: "We want to make sure that our kids know the majority of foods they eat still rely on bees for pollination. We're looking forward to the cross-curricular aspect ... math and science – counting and tracking and making hypotheses about bees – and even liberal arts activities like writing stories about their life cycles."
A close-up of apiaries at Small Middle School: "When you take a frame of bees out of a hive, you're holding an entire world in your hands. You have to move incredibly slowly, and when you do that, they're happy to show you everything that's going on," said Evans, who recently took up beekeeping at home. "Our world is busy, and bees are busy, so if you can make some space and look a little deeper, you might actually see the cooperation it takes to pollinate plants across nature's entire spectrum ... a key to health and happiness."
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