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Bee Educated is a non-profit organization in Texas that is working to educate youth about the vital role that bees play in the sustainability of natural ecosystems, native plant communities and agricultural crops. In Texas, there are many dangers facing the bee population, and currently colony collapse is the most pressing. In 2016, Dee Lynn Braman (a Texas born beekeeper and philanthropist) had the idea to take the educational effort to the youth of Texas after her own daughters fell in love with beekeeping.
With children often having an unfavorable view of bees, a primary goal for Bee Educated is to create a healthier understanding of their importance through educational events, community resources and providing ways for the public to get involved. Bee Educated approached Hawkeye to design an identity for the organization that would not only speak to the educational vision moving forward, but also represent bees as essential tools in the well being of the Texas environment.
We have all panicked around a flying bee at one point or another. Being stung is obviously not enjoyable, thus children having an unfavorable view of bees is understandable. Often when children see bees in illustrations or animations, if the bee is depicted with a stinger, it is an antagonist and associated with doing harm. We did not want to avoid the stinger entirely, as it is a defining characteristic of a bee. However, we did want to take the conversation away from “being stung.”
Whenever we approach an identity design, we always aim to have a moment when the identity can reveal something unexpected, when it can communicate that extra layer of meaning that truly makes a mark memorable.
For Bee Educated, it was when we transformed the bee and its aggressive characteristic, the stinger, into an essential tool that children encounter on a daily basis, a pencil. It does not ignore that bees do in fact sting, which is important to safety. A pencil can be dangerous as well, should a child decide to run down a flight of stairs with one in hand, however when handled with respect it is an invaluable tool. Similar comparisons can be made for their surroundings, pencils need paper just as bees need flowers. Paper needs healthy trees, just as flowers need clean air. Drawing these comparisons between two essential tools and their roles, can help to lay the foundation for a new perspective in the minds of children.
Any time that one of our identities is loved equally by ourselves and the client, it is very rewarding. However, having the design process help to form a new conversation and perspective is something we did not expect, and is truly the most rewarding thing we could have asked for. Not necessarily because it led to a successful identity, but because the line of thought and the comparisons made directly relate to things that children can digest. Which in turn can help to alter their understanding for the better.