Initially a PR stunt gone viral, Whole Foods is raising money to bring educational beehives to schools across the US.
UPDATE: After wiping its Instagram account clean yesterday to create a buzz (sorry, sorry), Whole Foods finally revealed that their social media stunt is, in fact, part of a partnership with its own nonprofit, Whole Kids Foundation, to raise $100,000 for 50 new honey beehives to be installed in local schools across the nation.
Many savvy social media users pieced two and two together after Whole Foods followed musicians like Béyonce and hip-hop artist Cardi B, connecting the dots thanks to a new bee emoji in the grocer's Instagram bio. The fundraising effort is in conjunction with National Pollinator's Month all throughout June, an event sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation to raise awayness about the importance of bees, especially for home cooks and diners around the world.
"Whole Kids Foundation has impacted more than 5.8 million kids and nearly 11,000 schools in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom through school salad bars, edible learning gardens, healthy eating training for teachers, and educational honey beehives," says Nona Evans, the president and executive director of Whole Foods' nonprofit directed at youth education.
Evans says the organization launched the "Give Bees a Chance" campaign because younger children are taught to be afraid of bees, but says teaching young children the importance of supporting bees' role in nature starts with educational beehives in schools in every state.
"We believe that when kids have access to beehives, they learn just how important pollinators are to our food," Evans says. "One of the best ways we can teach kids about bees is through educational beehives at their schools, where they get an up-close look into the world of pollination."
Since creating the social media buzz yesterday, the team at Whole Foods are back on Instagram to educate followers about how important bees are to food production worldwide. "Did you know one out of every 3 bites of food you eat is made possible because of pollinators?" one post reads. Another pair of posts made shortly thereafter explains just why the team decided to go "blank" on their profile: "Without bees, you wouldn't have your favorite foods," it reads. "Our Instagram feed would be blank, like this."
Rachel Malish, of the Global Public Relations team at Whole Foods, says the social team at Whole Foods will spend the rest of the day highlighting (through #candid pics) just how many plants and crops are affected by bees and pollination—and the lack thereof. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the count of bee colonies within the United States have plummeted over the last decade, and Greenpeace, the eco-minded nonprofit, considers the natural bee to be "endangered" here in the US.
For more information on Whole Foods' mission to educate children on bee pollination, as well as to donate towards Whole Kids' $100,000 goal to bring beehives to schools across the country, click here.
The original story, published Tuesday, June 19, 2018, continues below:
We were left scratching our heads this morning when we discovered that Whole Foods completely scrubbed its Instagram account—except for two blank white posts. The only thing left on the account? A single bee emoji in their Instagram bio, which might strike you as extra strange until you hear that the account now only follows eight individuals, including the musician Sting and... Beyoncé?!
What could possibly bee happening at Whole Foods' HQ? Did one of our favorite grocery stores get hacked?
Well, you can relax—we've confirmed that neither Whole Foods' account nor private information was hacked, per Rachel Malish, part of the Global Public Relations team for Whole Foods. But the buzz that Whole Foods has built around their mysterious social rebrand is intentional, and they're deliberately keeping secrets (until tomorrow, anyway).
Malish explains that Whole Foods will be dropping "hints" throughout the rest of the day. As of now, fans will just have to wait and see why the popular grocer is pulling this crazy stunt.
While we won't be able to confirm what Whole Foods is up to until tomorrow, our associate editor, Jaime Ritter, has a theory she'd like to float your way:
- Both Béyonce and Sting are associated with bees, right?
- What if Whole Foods is collaborating with the United Nations and their annual National Bee Day to raise awareness?
- June 19-26 is National Pollinator Week. Coincidence? We think not.
- As the morning has progressed, Whole Foods has also followed Jon Bon Jovi and rapper Cardi B—so either they're really into summer jams, or they're following people with ties to the bee theme.
- After all, bees are part of the production chain for most of the crops and staple ingredients we use in our kitchens everyday—stuff like blueberries, watermelons, and even almonds.
We're going to buzz about this mystery all day long, and as soon as Whole Foods gets back to us, we'll update the story with more information. What's your theory?