A Friend to Honey Bees

At just 16 years old, Sheridan Miller is already a veteran fundraiser. The Mill Valley, Calif., teenager recently donated $1,400 she raised to help support Washington State University’s honey bee stock improvement program. Over the past six years, she has raised more than $5,000 to help fund research aimed at combating colony collapse disorder (CCD) and saving the honey bee.

Miller first became interested in honey bees when she was 10. She heard her mom talking about how bees were disappearing and became concerned.

Sheridan Miller“I remember being incredibly worried, because she said most ice cream flavors would be gone, along with the bees,” said Miller, referring to the vital role bees play in agriculture through the pollination of about 100 crops, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, apples, cranberries, and almonds.

Miller began studying honey bees and CCD and what she learned was far more disturbing than the disappearance of ice cream flavors, she said.

She held her first fundraiser at age 10 and has made donations to help fund bee research every year since. This year, Miller organized and hosted a lecture for local honey bee enthusiasts and concerned citizens. The featured speaker was Sue Cobey, a WSU bee breeder-geneticist who Miller supported previously at the University of California, Davis.

At the event, Miller sold handmade beeswax candles, booklets about honey bees, and raffle tickets for a donated gift basket.

“Sheridan cares so much about people and the earth,” said her father. “We are amazed at her energy level and the fact that, instead of burning out, she seems to be getting even more committed to her efforts. She often tells us of her next idea where she hopes to raise even more money than the last time.”

What advice does Miller have for others who are concerned about problems in the world?

“Honestly, and I know this sounds cliché, but every little bit counts,” she said. “CCD is an incredibly terrifying prospect… but it will only continue to keep getting worse if we just sit on the sidelines and let it happen.

“I have only made a tiny impact,” she said, “but if everyone made just as tiny an impact with this, or with other huge issues in the world, we would have 7 billion people making a gigantic impact—together.”

– by Kate Wilhite