- Environmental Health -

A Friend to the Bees: Mikaila Ulmer

mikaila-ulmer

This 12-year-old entrepreneur seeks to help support the declining bee population with her family’s lemonade recipe.

When Me & the Bees Lemonade founder Mikaila Ulmer was 4, she was brainstorming product ideas to enter a children’s business competition and Austin Lemonade Day when she was stung by a bee — twice. Although she was scared, Mikaila was also curious: What purpose did bees play in the world?

Mikaila learned how important bees are for our ecosystem. In fact, honeybees are responsible for pollinating three-fourths of the foods we eat, like nuts, vegetables, herbs, and fruits. The rapidly declining bee population has spurred quick action from the scientific community to investigate, finding a leading cause linking to the pesticides, fungicides, and a new class of pesticide called neonicotinoids humans use to keep plant-damaging pests at bay.

As Mikaila, now 12, began to learn more about bees, an idea came to her: If she opted to sweeten her great-grandmother’s flaxseed lemonade with local honey, she could share the profits with organizations working to save declining honeybee populations. Her award-winning Me & the Bees Lemonade can now be found in natural markets nationwide, along with a growing number of restaurants, food trucks, and natural-food-delivery companies. Find her on Twitter or Instagram at @mikailasbees, and at Facebook.com/MikailasBees. Learn more at www.meandthebees.com.

Courtney Lewis Opdahl is an Experience Life managing editor.