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Creating a Buzz on and off Campus

Beekeeper and entrepreneur Leigh-Kathryn Bonner.

Senior Leigh-Kathryn Bonner created quite a buzz with the nonprofit she founded – literally. Bonner’s organization Bee Downtown  has over 120,000 bees in various observation hives and has recently partnered with Burt’s Bees to open the state’s largest observation hive at Durham’s American Tobacco Campus.

The nonprofit’s purpose is to educate the community about the global concern regarding the drop in honeybee population due to Colony Collapse Disorder. The effects of this shortage affect the population worldwide. “Every third bite we eat comes from a honeybee,” says Bonner. “We need to dispel misconceptions and educate the public about the importance of honeybees.”

Bonner has developed this project throughout her undergraduate career as an International Studies and Spanish major with a minor in Nonprofit Studies. Her personal background has fed her passion as well: she is a third-generation beekeeper.

Bee Downtown works to spread awareness and educate locals about urban beekeeping. “We want to make our hives accessible to people of all interests and ages,” says Bonner. She insists there’s nothing to fear from honeybees because most stings come from other bees. “Honeybees are docile. If they sting you, they will die.”

The launch of the nonprofit was a collaborative process that involved NC State’s Institute for Nonprofits  and its entrepreneurship initiative, the Department of Entomology and the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering. Bonner hopes to expand the project.

Read local coverage about Bee Downtown here.

By Katie McCreary, communication intern