Hopefully everyone knows about Amazon’s “smile” program by which Amazon customers can donate .05% of their purchase price to a chosen charity. The bigger, more well-known charities are listed as the “Top Five,” but the smaller ones don’t come up unless you search for them.  And there are so many charities out there, where do you even start to look for a new one?

Well, sometimes happy little things happen, and you just have to run with them. Our local beekeeping group hosted a speaker from the Austin-based American Honey Bee Protection Agency, and the OCD part of me insisted that the flibbertigibbet part of me check out the organization’s website so I could include all the relevant information in the reminder notice I sent out to our group members.

First of all, as somebody who grew up on James Bond movies and Get Smart, the Sixties TV show about the most decidedly “not-so-smart” secret agent, I love the organization’s name. I get visions of savvy secret agents in bee suits lurking around Monsanto factories and boardrooms, just waiting to blast them to pieces with futuristic weapons (giant titanium, ruby-tipped bee stingers, perhaps?) or maybe dunk the Monsanto movers and shakers in a vat of GMO honey.

Actually, the AHBPA isn’t violent at all. Its only goal is to safely remove bees from anywhere they’re not wanted (the play structure at the local park, the walls of your house, the big oak tree right by your kid’s sandbox), and the biggest weapons in their agents’ arsenals are a smoker for calming excitable bees and a gentle vacuum device to remove the more reluctant ones from whatever unacceptable place they decided to homestead. After that, the bees are rehived and relocated to areas as diverse as somebody’s backyard, a community garden, or the top of a luxury hotel. All this is done on a donation basis at both the removal and relocation end. People give what they can, and if they can’t give anything, the not-so-secret agents of the AHBPA still come in and do their job, which is simply to protect the bees.

And if anything needs protecting, it’s honey bees. Without them our dinner plates would look much different, as bees pollinate 70 of the 100 plants that make up 90% of the food we eat. beepic2b778fad-61f0-45d5-bebd-0e63b88deb45_zpscntqntmoAnother way to look at it is that every third bite we eat is produced with the help of some type of pollinator, and honey bees are among the best. “People say” that back in the Fifties Albert Einstein theorized that if honey bees cease to exist, then the rest of us have about five years. Whether or not he ever actually said that is debatable, but it’s a pretty scary thing to think about. Now, more than fifty years later, honey bees are facing more problems than even Einstein could have imagined, and since big business isn’t particularly interested in helping them out, it’s up to us little people.

Enough of the sermon. Now it’s time to pass the collection plate. This is where the happy little happenstance comes in. Right there on the AHBPA website, under Affiliate Programs, was the statement that you, too, can help save the bees by designating the organization as your charity on Smile Amazon. If Amazon isn’t your thing, eBay has its own program, as does Tom Thumb/Randalls, a small chain of regional grocery stores. That’s good news for me and good news for the bees, and what’s good for the bees is good for all of us. Happy shopping, y’all!