Our Story

Mason’s Honey Bee Initiative (HBI) began humbly in 2012 with four hives, motivated by the need to raise awareness about the decline of pollinators – a global phenomenon driven by parasites and diseases, habitat loss, climate change, as well as pesticides – and its potential impact on world food production. In 2019, nearly 40 percent of all U.S. honey bee colonies, already in decline, were lost—the highest level reported since survey results were collected in 2005-2006.

Soon thereafter, a beekeeping class, which filled immediately, was started, and it caused us to think about ways to expand. Led by Germán Perilla, our Master Beekeeper and Executive Director of the Initiative, in 2013 we launched HBI to educate our campus community about the benefits of sustainable hive management in an urban setting.

Today, that small startup has developed into an operation of several hundred hives, an established teaching and research program, thriving international components, and dynamic public-private partnerships that we will continue to grow to increase our impact. HBI’s mission is to empower communities through sustainable beekeeping. More specifically, HBI promotes multi-disciplinary, experiential, and entrepreneurial approaches to honey bee sustainability.

We’d like to keep growing our impact and need your support. We need help:
  • Educating students and the community about the interdependence of pollinators and human food sources, and modeling best practices in the management of honey bee hives.
  • Advancing global sustainability initiatives and economic alternatives for underserved regions.
  • Collaborating with public and private groups on improving the Northern Virginia ecosystem and establishing a sustainable business model.

If you think you might want to join our great team of partners, please let us know. Give us a buzz at ciemason@gmu.edu.