Honey Bee Initiative partnership with MVLE creates beeswax entrepreneurs

The Honey Bee Initiative has partnered with MVLE to make candles from beeswax collected through HBI hives. Operating since 1971, Virginia-based MVLE, Inc. provides employment training and job placement for people with intellectual and physical disability.

Currently, HBI produces a limited quantity of honey, candles, and other products sourced from bee hives managed through the program. Students in marketing, management, and communication classes at Mason’s School of Business proposed a sustainable business model that included the sale of honey, candles, and other bee-related products as a revenue stream. When HBI set a goal to expand the candle production, it turned to new partner MVLE to help. Individuals supported by MVLE’s programs will manufacture and sell the candles. Ultimately, the goal is to provide MVLE clients with meaningful employment through making and selling tea light and taper candles.

MVLE is an internationally accredited agency that partners with more than 125 commercial businesses in addition to government and other not-for-profit agencies. MVLE supports over 450 individuals with disabilities and other barriers each year, with a commitment to creating futures, one person at a time.



HBI Earns National ‘Innovations That Inspire’ Award

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) selected George Mason University School of Business’ Business Business for a Better World and its Honey Bee Initiative  as one of its 2019 Innovations that Inspire.

“Leaders from all sectors across the globe have issued a clarion call to businesses to demonstrate not only profit but evidence of service to a social and/or environmental mission. To be successful, these businesses will need employees and partners who share a passion for addressing some of our most vexing challenges,” said Lisa Gring-Pemble, George Mason University director of Global Impact and Engagement and co-founder of the Honey Bee Initiative. “George Mason University’s School of Business is uniquely poised to educate students to be leaders in business for global good.

Recently, 30 George Mason students returned from a trip to Columbia where they helped families reestablish beekeeping operations in areas where many hives have been destroyed by pesticides and other causes. The objective is to develop and empower the farming communities through beekeeping, so that they can become self-sufficient over the long run. More than 80 percent of the beneficiaries of the program, in which students help establish hives of stingless bees, are women.

The Business for a Better World Center has also enhanced Northern Virginia’s ecosystem through its Honey Bee Initiative. The Honey Bee Initiative educates students and the surrounding community on the importance of bee sustainability and how to best manage and take care of a hive. In March, the Honey Bee Initiative organized a bee release at Valley View Farm Apiary in Delaplane, Virginia, and the Farm will continue to work collaboratively with Mason to research bees.

“Business schools that engage across disciplines and with industry, inside and outside the traditional bounds of business and management, exemplify AACSB’s vision for the future of business education,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and CEO of AACSB. “We are honored to recognize George Mason University School of Business as they lead by example — emphasizing their own areas of expertise and embracing collaborative approaches — all while addressing critical issues to drive social change.”

The AACSB is a global nonprofit that accredits business schools. The School of Business’s Initiative was among 21 winners.



HBI Co-Founder Gring-Pemble Awarded Faculty of the Year

Lisa Gring-Pemble, associate professor of business foundations, is the 2019 recipient of the George Mason University Alumni Association Faculty of the Year Award.

Each year, the Alumni Association recognizes one distinguished faculty member from across the entire university who exemplifies a commitment to scholarship, teaching, and service as nominated by students, alumni, and the campus community.

“Since joining the School of Business in 2000, Lisa has become an invaluable member of the school,” said Anne Magro, associate dean of academic affairs. “In addition to her commitment to a transformational education for her students, Lisa is a tremendous colleague, leader, and role model who partners across the school, university, community, and, literally, the world. While doing all this, she still finds time for her own scholarship and to engage students in that scholarship. “

In addition to her role as an associate professor at Mason, Gring-Pemble also serves as director of social entrepreneurship and global impact for the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. She is also a co-founder of the Honey Bee Initiative, and continues to serve the program as a consultant. Her research interests focus on social impact, innovation and entrepreneurship, rhetorical criticism, argument, persuasion and political communication, and public policy. Gring-Pemble holds a doctorate in communication from the University of Maryland.


Mason and Colombian Beekeepers Help Build a Sustainable World


Twenty-one George Mason University students traveled over spring break to learn how Mason’s Honey Bee Initiative empowers communities through sustainable beekeeping and to investigate how tri-sector partnerships (nonprofit, for-profit, government) can work together to solve complex global challenges like gender equity and food security.

This year, for the first time, the Honey Bee Initiative brought together students from two universities and multiple disciplines in an effort to enrich the intercultural exchange of ideas between Mason and the University Industrial of Santander (UIS) students in encouraging sustainable business practices. UIS is the largest higher education institution and is regarded as one of the leading multidisciplinary research universities in Colombia.

“The purpose of the trip was for students to investigate solutions using government, business, and education to achieve sustainable development goals through visiting and interacting with people in different industries,” says Lisa Gring-Pemble, co-founder of the Honey Bee Initiative, director of global impact and engagement, and associate professor of business at in the School of Business. Students worked with eight municipalities and more than 160 families during the trip to reintroduce honey bees and teach apiculture in areas where bee populations have been reduced by pesticides and other causes.

Read the news report from Columbia.

The trip was funded by a Mason Global Discovery Grant and a 100,000 Strong in the Americas grant, an organization dedicated to providing innovation grants designed to support strategic university partnerships to increase student exchange and training programs between the Americas.

“As the new graduate fellow for the Honey Bee Initiative, participating in this trip was a great opportunity for me to learn about and see our beekeeping project happening in Colombia firsthand,” says Candace Garthee, BA Environmental and Sustainability Studies ’18. “As a student, I wanted to take advantage of the amazing opportunity to expand my knowledge on how beekeeping is being integrated into sustainability and development projects to help strengthen communities abroad.”

“Students interacted with a number of different people at a coffee plantation, a cacao plantation, a trapiche/molienda (brown sugar/molasses) factory, and a women’s paper cooperative,” says Gring-Pemble. “​Students also led a presentation about the business and sustainability aspects of the Honey Bee Initiative to more than 200 beekeepers, coffee growers, and representatives of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, UIS, and community officials.”

In addition to providing a rich educational experience for students from both universities, the Honey Bee Initiative’s goals for the trip were to expand the program that began in fall 2017 with 180 hives in El Bosque, Morros, Confines, and Palmas del Socorro and with about 40 beekeepers — 30 women and 10 men — and continue to build the partnership between Mason, UIS, and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria.

“Next year’s goal is to increase program participation to 80 beekeepers, with at least 60 percent female participation,” says Gring-Pemble. “In addition, we intend to double the number of hives in these communities.”

“George Mason consistently encourages its students to be global citizens — to use our acquired knowledge and experiences from Mason to create positive change in the world,” says Garthee. “This trip has helped me gain a deeper understanding of what that means exactly.”


Learn more about HBI’s trip to Colombia in a recent article featured on Mason’s website: Mason’s Honey Bee Initiative expands its international impact