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High school student hopes business is abuzz

Bee-themed coasters created to raise awareness of bee population decline
Sirianni Sofia bee coasters SKSS
South Kamloops secondary student Sofia Sirianni has designed bee-themed coasters to spread the word about the declining bee population.

A Kamloops high school student is buzzing about her business’s future, which aims to save the planet’s honey makers one drink at a time.

Grade 11 student Sofia Sirianni is selling customized drink coasters in an effort to spread the word about declining bee population in B.C.

She started the business, dubbed Apiculture, with three fellow high school students, but is taking it forward on her own as the CEO and owner — a promotion from her former title as vice-president of marketing.

“I’m nervous, but I’m also really excited,” she said of branching off on her own. “I see a lot of potential for Apiculture and what it can do for the education of people in our community.”

The wooden coasters are on point — coated in beeswax to make them waterproof, cut in the shape of honeycomb and featuring designs of local flowers and bees.

To encourage people to do their part, wildflower seeds are included in every pack of four.

A dollar from every sale of the coasters goes to the Shuswap Master Gardener Association — a collection of volunteers who seek to educate the public with environmentally responsible gardening advice.

“They have education programs for people on how to plant your flowers and where and what would be best for the bees,” Sirianni said.

Sirianni is working on a mobile app to educate customers about the importance of bees and their role in the ecosystem.

“It’s an idea that’s still in the works,” she said.

Once the app is ready, Sirianni envisions customers being able to scan a QR code on their purchase that will lead them to the app where they can learn about bees and the issues they face — such as climate change and pesticide use.

Add ons to her product in the form of the seeds and app are easy ways to get people engaged with the issue, Sirianni said.

Over the summer, she plans to stockpile 100 packs to prepare for a trade show in the fall.

Sirianni plans to contact local wineries to see if they’d be interested in hosting the product, and explore the option of doing custom orders for companies with their logo.

The coasters are created using a laser cutter at Kamloops Makerspace, then sanded, coated in beeswax and packaged.

Currently they’re available at Moustache and Go restaurant on Tranquille Road and home goods store Far and Wide, located downtown.

“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to own my own company,” Sirianni said.

Sirianni started the business last fall with three other youth as part of a program with Junior Achievement British Columbia.

Together, they sought to address an issue relevant to Kamloops, landing on the issue of diminishing bee populations given Kamloops’ designation as a bee city with Bee City Canada in 2017.

City council, at that time, made a declaration to protect pollinators and their habitats through action and education.

Sirianni said she hopes her customers realize they’re buying more than just a drink coaster.

“Our [motto] is save the table, save the bees,” she said.