Hawaii’s largest commercial bee keeper fires employee for launching a crowd funding campaign to save bees.

Dying bees

May 28, 2016. Hilo, Hawaii.

Hawaii Island Honey, Hawaii’s largest commercial bee keeping company, fired employee Shane Lee one day after he launched a crowd funding campaign to save bees which included a video “exposing” the commercial bee industry for its often harmful, toxic bee keeping methods.

Shane Lee is the founder of Gentle Hive Bee Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to saving bees by researching, promoting, and utilizing environmental and bee-friendly alternatives to the chemicals and pesticides often used in the commercial bee keeping industry.

Mr. Lee worked for Hawaii Island Honey for 1.5 years as a supervisor and bee keeper. He just got a $1 raise last week.  Two days after Lee launched his crowd funding campaign, Hawaii Island Honey owner Dave Thomas fired him via a text message, informing Lee that he saw his video and there was “nothing to discuss”.

According to Mr. Lee, he did not mention either the Hawaii Island Honey company nor Thomas in his video; rather he simply exposed what Lee calls the “secret life of commercial bee keeping”–referring to the common practice of using anywhere from 3 to 12 chemicals on producing bee hives, which means these chemicals can be found in the honey that consumers buy.

“People buy honey for health conscious reasons”, Lee says; “They should not be unknowingly ingesting chemicals which could harm them”.  In addition to the chemicals being harmful to humans, they are also harmful to bees, and are considered a primary reason for the staggering global bee loss over the last decade.

Mr. Lee no longer considers himself a “bee keeper” but instead a “bee-freerer”. Lee said he knew that making a video that exposed the “secret side of commercial bee keeping” might cost him his job, but says that his passion for helping bees is his first priority. Lee’s Indiegogo crowd funding campaign has raised $274 so far of their $6,600 flexible goal, and can be seen at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gentle-hive-bee-foundation

By Shane Lee


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