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Mikaila Ulmer, Lemonade Entrepreneur

Saving Honeybees – Young Texas Girl Has an Idea to Make Lemonade and Save Honeybees

Mikaila Ulmer is an 11-year-old social entrepreneur and honeybee ambassador. She lives in Austin, Texas, where as young girl she founded her own business, a modern take on the front-yard lemonade stands. Only bigger. Here’s the story:

Mikaila is CEO of Me and the Bees Lemonade. The idea was launched at age 4 when she took part in Lemonade Day, a national program that teaches financial literacy to kids by encouraging them to open their own business — a lemonade stand.

How has her business fared? Whole Foods is now carrying Me & the Bees products, and she was offered a $60,000 investment from Daymond John on Shark Tank.

And she’s now only 11 years old.

Two events helped launch Mikaila’s brilliant eco-business. First, she got stung by a bee. Actually, two bees in one week.

According to an article in the Dallas News:

“I hated the bees. . . . but my parents — they made me do some research on the bees and from that research, I found out how incredibly important bees were to our world.”

Then, her great-grandmother sent her family a 1940s-era cookbook, which included her own recipe for flaxseed lemonade. Voila!

On the Me & the Bees Lemonade website, Mikaila tells what happened next:

I became fascinated with bees. I learned all about what they do for me and our ecosystem. So then I thought, what if I make something that helps honeybees and uses my Great Granny Helen’s recipe?

That’s how Me & the Bees Lemonade was born.

Me and the Bees Lemonade

It’s a great story. The best part, Me & the Bees Lemonade (previously known as BeeSweet) is donating a portion of profits to support organizations working to preserve honeybees, which are endangered because of loss of habitat and food sources, global warming, pesticides, and parasites. Since 2006, nearly 1/3 of all honey bee colonies in the U.S. have disappeared due to a disorder called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Organizations supported include Heifer International, which supplies a gift of honeybees to needy families around the world. Each package includes bees, hive and box, plus beekeeping training. The donation boosts the recipient family’s income through sales of honey, wax and pollen, and helps the rest of their crops with better pollination.

BeeSweet also donates to the Texas BeeKeepers Association, which supports research by Texas A&M University on bee preservation.

bee pollinates wildflower

Worldwide, there are about 25,000 bee species (roughly 4,000 in the U.S.), divided into nine families of bees. The Apidae family includes the honeybee, carpenter bee, and bumblebee.

The honeybee was transported to North America by the Pilgrim colonists, as part of their farming tradition. Until then, America had wild bees, but no honeybees.

All of these species are crucial to humans as they pollinate flowers and many types of vegetables and fruit. And they produce honey, which is not only delightfully sweet (with fewer calories than sugar) but also has other healthy nutrients.

According to Natural Resources Defense Council (www.nrdc.org), it’s estimated that cross-pollination from bees helps 30% of the world’s food crops and 90% of wild plants to grow. Without bees, many plants would go extinct.

As conservationist John Muir wrote (quoted in The Guardian in a great article, “Why Are Bees Important”): “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

What can you do to help? Here are some practical ideas, from planting nectar-rich flowers to avoiding use of pesticides: Ten things to do to help honeybees.

# # #

More Resources: 10 Facts about Bees:
http://www.theecologycenter.org/news/10-reasons-why-bees-matter

Bee photo: Antonio Picascia/Flickr
Photo of Mikaila Ulmer: Black EOE Journal

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