By Shermakaye Bass

Haagen-Dazs says it “hearts” honeybees. To underscore this claim, the all-natural icehaagendazslovesbees.jpg creamery is putting its money where its mouth is – donating $250,000 worth in cash to the cause and pouring much more into advertising and promotions designed to aid the humble worker.

As American apiarists monitor their hives this winter for signs of Colony Collapse Disorder and many others watch helplessly as the syndrome decimates their beeyards, the General Mills giant has made a move to help. On Monday (Feb. 18), it announced the launch of “Haagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees,” a multi-prong campaign to fund research and increase public awareness of the mysterious syndrome that has gutted at least 25 percent of America’s prime pollinators over the past few years.

“We started working on this (campaign) last fall,” says Diane McIntyre, senior public relations manager for H-D. “We did some research and began to understand what the impact would be on our business, let alone how it could impact the rest of the country, if things continue as they are.”

The “HD Loves HBs” site, officially launched today. The project includes several major PR efforts and gifts:

  • A $250,000 donation to Pennsylvania State University and the University of California, Davis, two American universities whose researchers are leading the charge in honeybee-health and genetic research.
  • A raft of television ads set for March/April release, as well as print advertisements.
  • The launch of a brand-new flavor: Vanilla Honey Bee.
  • The creation of a “Bee Board,” an advisory panel with eight honeybee scholars and apiarists from around the country.
  • The labeling of all “honeybee-dependent” flavors in Haagen-Dazs retail stores. The company says that more than 40 percent of its offerings are directly linked to honeybee pollination.

“Haagen-Dazs is kind of an icon in our industry, and what we really wanted to do is use the power of the brand to help spread the word,” McIntyre says, adding that “so far, we’re not aware of any other food companies that have jumped on the bandwagon. Burts’
Bees has a campaign. But as far as we’re concerned, the more people who want to join the effort, the better.”

McIntyre says the company is extremely concerned about the continuing die-offs, which began several years ago and largely remain a mystery. As reported in the story Bee Colony Collapse on this website last week, researchers are making strides and have identified a genetic marker linking a virus – the Israeli Accute Paralysis Virus – with CCD.
But much remains to be done, scientists contend.