April showers bring May flowers and May flowers bring … summertime bees. But when it comes to the important pollinators, humans can be pretty selfish. We swat them away when they buzz by us, but eat their honey without a second thought. Yet in recent years, that thought culture is changing as more people realize how endangered honeybees really are.
Named the most important species on the planet by the Earthwatch Institute, nearly 90% of the honeybee population has disappeared. Not good, considering 70% of the world’s agriculture depends on honeybees for pollination—that means a lot more food than just honey is being affected.
J.P. Mackey, a 12-year-old Reston resident, is using his talents to help save the bees. In December, the young entrepreneur launched Bumble Bracelets, an exclusively online business that sells beaded bracelets made of stone and crystals like labradorite, agate, Czech glass, sterling silver and lava beads. Currently, there are 13 bracelet styles available for women, men and children. Each features a black-and-gold “bumble bead,” Mackey’s signature touch.
“I heard that honeybees were named the No. 1 most important species on the planet, and I wanted to do something to help them,” Mackey says. “I wanted to make bracelets and I wanted to help the bees. So I decided, why not do two things at once?”
One hundred percent of Bumble Bracelets’ proceeds are donated to Heifer International’s honeybee program, which helps farmers boost their bee populations by providing them with a bee package, hive, box and training in beekeeping techniques. The program produces over 60 pounds of honey each year, and helps farmers across the country double their fruit and vegetable yields. Each Bumble Bracelet sells for $30, the exact amount needed for a single donation to Heifer’s honeybee program.
“[My parents and I] were researching charities and we saw Heifer International,” Mackey says. “We decided to give the bracelets a price that each equals one donation to the honeybee program.”
Bumble Bracelets are handmade by Mackey, who designs them to fit anyone’s personal style. He breaks them down by category, including earthy, glassy and sparkly. “The Honey Bead is my favorite, because I like the gold,” Mackey says. “Our most popular is The Bees Knees. We keep running out.” // $30
This post originally appeared in our May 2020 print issue. For more stories on NoVA residents making a difference, subscribe to our newsletters.