Rainbow Lodge owner Donnette Hansen loves bees, so much so that she’s a beekeeper-in-training.
With June being National Pollinator Month, her restaurant is partnering with the Whole Kids Foundation in its initiative to help spread bee awareness.
The “Give Bees a Chance” campaign seeks to raise $100,000 to bring 50 new educational beehives to schools and nonprofits across the nation. This will give students the chance to see up-close the workings of a beehive and impart to them knowledge about the endangered bee population.
“I can’t imagine better lessons for kids as they learn about life than to study the life and habits of bees,” Hansen said.
With bees playing an important role in the pollination of more than 100 types of vegetables and nuts, the foundation decided to connect with chefs during its campaign. So bee dinners were created, featuring bee-inspired menus.
Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella Blvd., is one of three on the campaign’s website featured as a participating restaurant. The other two are in Atlanta and California’s Bay Area.
Proceeds from the dinners, including Rainbow Lodge’s event on Thursday, June 13, will go toward the campaign and educational beehives. Some will be located in the area.
“Since placing our Lodge beehives, I have a new respect for pollinators and their importance in our food chain,” Hansen said.
The honey bee population saw an unexplained loss in managed colonies in the winter of 2006-07, and while symptoms were identified and termed as colony collapse disorder (CCD), no single factor has been shown to be the cause, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Because bees are vital to food production, there have been more and more initiatives over the years to convey their importance to people who might see bees as pests. The foundation and its “Give Bees a Chance” campaign aims to relay that message to students early in their education.
“These opportunities help empower kids to become stewards for pollinators and the rest of the natural environment,” Nona Evans, president and executive director of Whole Kids Foundation, said in a news release.
Hansen said the team at Rainbow Lodge appreciated the work of the Whole Kids Foundation in supporting schools and inspiring families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness.
“This dinner is a fit for Rainbow Lodge for many other reasons, too,” she said. “We have our own hive program which gives us ultra-local honey for the restaurant and our guests. Our acre-plus of land is also home to our kitchen gardens and citrus grove, whose harvests grace our menu features seasonally.”
Rainbow Lodge Executive Chef Mark Schmidt and Hansen created a special menu for the bee dinner. The menu includes a bee-inspired cocktail called Garden Buzz, which is composed of cantaloupe-infused gin, fresh citrus juice, cilantro-salted honey syrup and a seasoned bee pollen rim; and Hamachi and Scallop Ceviche, with summer melon, coriander and morcilla crumble at reception.
Dinner features a first course of pan-roasted duck breast, squash blossom fried rice and a five-spice confit spring roll; a second course of coffee-rubbed antelope loin, butternut spoonbread, pickled blackberries and plum demi; and a third course of sweet corn bavarois, fennel ice cream, candied fennel and a tomato macaron.
“Beekeeping warms my heart, and I am excited to be a part of this event,” Hansen said.
The Rainbow Lodge dinner is sold out. To donate to the “Give Bees a Chance” campaign, visit https://www.classy.org/campaign/give-bees-a-chance/c230577.