Help The Bee Conservancy save the bees by adding a native bee house to a local school garden, community garden or nature center.

The organization will give away 500 bee houses to groups that can offer a native plant habitat and help communities support local food systems through its Sponsor-A-Hive Program. Two hundred bee houses were given away last fall and 300 will be donated this spring.

Currently, one in four of North America’s 4,000-plus bee species is at risk of extinction, according to The Bee Conservancy (TBC). Last month, a Global Biodiversity Information Facility report found that 25 percent of wild bees have disappeared across the globe in the past 30 years.

Native bees are an important puzzle piece for a healthy ecosystem. They are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of flowering plants around the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Bee pollination yields more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year, the government agency reports.

“To mitigate an environmental crisis of this scale, it takes a hive,” says Guillermo Fernandez, founder and executive director of The Bee Conservancy. “We are all impacted by declines in bee populations and the toll their loss takes on the environment. We are thrilled that Sponsor-a-Hive unites a broad range of populations from schools, nature preserves, food banks, community gardens and more in the fight for pollinator security.”

Each bee house is constructed with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, sustainably sourced pine. The houses are manufactured by Brooklyn Woods, an organization that trains unemployed and low-income New Yorkers in woodworking, offering some graduates one of the first paying jobs of their careers.

“Sponsor-a-Hive isn’t just about protecting bees,” says Rebecca Louie, TBC’s managing director. “It’s about bringing people together to engage with nature, grow food and community bonds, and build economic opportunities in the green sector.”

For more information and an application, go to The Bee Conservancy. The application deadline is Friday, April 30.