By Chris Burley

“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”
bees, colony collapse, grow the rainbow, Monsanto, pesticides, save the bees ~ Bill Mollison

In the summer of 2010, two of my beehives at Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco were found sprayed with Raid. More than 100,000 bees died. Someone had trespassed onto the farm in the night to kill them. My initial reaction was fierce anger. The bees were arguably the hardest workers on the farm, and I couldn’t think of a single reason why someone would do this. The act was violent and disrespectful.

I suspected a neighbor and felt an overwhelming sense of distrust. I felt misunderstood. With hundreds of volunteers and other people who heard of the news, I mourned for the bees.

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating 85 percent of our plants. They are responsible for one in every three bites of food we take. In 2000, the total U.S. crop value of honey bee pollination was estimated to exceed $15 billion. Bees are considered messengers of love. They flutter around, getting drunk on nectar. They carry sex on their furry bodies while spreading pollen from one flower to the next. They even do little dances to invite their hive mates to join the party. They are the original “wing women.” They are the world’s greatest brokers of love, and without their playful exchanges, our world would be a much less colorful place.

After almost 18 months of research, I launched Project Grow the Rainbow. I realized that education is needed and solutions can be simple. Many people fear bees. In popular movies, like 1991’s My Girl, bees terrorize and kill young children. Most don’t know that honeybees don’t sting unless provoked. My bees died from ignorance, not violence.

The Grow the Rainbow Project is my offering to the bees and to my young, 4-month-old son. After seeing the state this world is in, I believe a more beautiful world is possible. My wife Ei Ei and I created a playful way for everyone to support bees that is super easy.

After much research, we developed “Seedles,” which are a mix of clay, compost, seeds, and water with a fun toxic-free color coating. They come in the form of rainbow-colored balls with wildflower seeds and we offer variations such as Thyme Bombs, which feature basil, thyme, mint, dill, oregano, chives, and parsley seeds. Anyone can spread flowers simply by dropping them outside. Create a kitchen-window by garden planting them with your children.

Our seed-ball technology is based on growing techniques used in ancient Egypt to recover from spring flooding. It was also used, later, in Japan to increase farm productivity. Best of all, bugs and other wildlife cannot eat them, almost guaranteeing the flowers will grow.

Our goal is to grow 1 million wildflowers for the declining bee populations. This story isn’t about us though, it is about you: how this is your opportunity to stand up for the world you want to live in. I want my son to taste the nuttiness of sun-dried almonds and raspberries, and maybe even enjoy a cup of coffee one day. I want him to know the world is beautiful and that understanding builds compassion. I want him to have sweet nectar in his life. Most importantly, I want him and everyone else to know that solutions live inside problems, and with each frustration, each bit of stress, and each annoyance comes an opportunity to “bee” the change we wish to see in the world.

May we become messengers of love for the bees.

Chris Burley is a social entrepreneur especially adept at building groundbreaking organizations around shared values and bold visions. As Co-Founder and Co-Director of Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco, he thrives on working with people to develop regenerative relationships with the planet and each other. Submit your story or essay to Buzzworthy Blogs.  

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