Intel Folsom adds 200,000 Workers

Note from the editor: Intel really encourages employees to get involved in our local community and rewards employees for thinking sustainable–and this blog post on the Sustainability in Action grant exemplifies that. To learn more about Intel’s Corporate Social Responsibility programs and initiatives, check out the CSR@Intel blog! Kudos to Emma and Raphael for their leadership and sharing their story with us, and now you!

200,000 worker bees that is!

On a sunny Friday in May 2012, we installed five bee boxes at our Intel Folsom site. This project is part of the 2012 Intel Sustainability In Action (SIA) grant,  an initiative that offers employees an opportunity to find funding for a project that might be a bit outside the norm, but more on that later.

So why bees? Honeybees are crucial to our food system: they  provide 80 to 90 percent of the crop pollination that results in about 1/3 of our daily diet.  If that doesn’t impress you, did you know that they are responsible for pollinating $15 billion in agricultural crops each year? In fact, the California almond crop alone uses 1.3 million colonies of bees for pollination, approximately one half of all the honey bees in the United States!

But the honeybees are in peril and we want to do our part to help them and help our food chain.

Every year about 30% of all honeybees die due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The exact cause for their death is still unknown, however honeybees are becoming weaker because of the lack of flower diversity from extensive monoculture and the massive use of pesticides. Just imagine having to eat only one type of food, like pancakes, every day, seasoned with pesticides. You wouldn’t feel well either. Cities are becoming havens for bees: there’s much more flower diversity in Folsom, for example, than there is in California’s agriculture rich Central Valley. And people don’t use pesticides on the same broad scale they do in the Central Valley.

That’s where Intel comes in. Emma and Raphael, two Intel employees, got interested in the fate of honeybees a few years back when they were working on a documentary film called “Vive La Food!” about two French Chefs in Sacramento. As part of the research, they explored the local food system and saw firsthand the importance of honeybees. They went on and made another fiction film called “BEE” that focused on honeybees. They wanted to do more for the bees and to raise awareness about CCD. Enter the Intel Sustainability In Action program. Intel is financing sustainability programs from employees that have a strong impact on our communities. Emma and Raphael wrote the project proposal and then put an Intel team together that includes expert beekeepers. For more pictures, check out our Facebook album!

Besides installing bee boxes on the Folsom campus, the team organized a very well received beekeeping class for Intel employees. In the fall, if all goes well, we will get fresh, local honey. Local outreach will also include going out to local schools to share with them knowledge about honeybees and what to do to protect them. And we expect Intel will become the first “Bee Friendly” Certified High Tech Company in the US.

This week is Pollinator Week. What will you do to celebrate the honeybees and other pollinators and help save them?

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