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Business & Entrepreneurship

Ryan Margulis ’15 is not your typical entrepreneur.

The co-founder of Bees and Thank You, a innovative business that combines his passion for grilled cheese sandwiches with a mission to save honey bees, Margulis exemplifies how a purpose-driven organization can thrive in a world dominated by factory farms and one experiencing the effects of climate change.

The Emmanuel Connection

Margulis discovered his appreciation for community and desire to do meaningful work as a student at Emmanuel. While working in the college cafeteria, he noticed the popularity of grilled cheese nights. "We'd have hundreds of kids lined up for grilled cheese — everyone loves grilled cheese," he recalled. This simple yet profound observation stuck with him as he contemplated his future after graduation.

His time at Emmanuel was also marked by an introduction to Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN, an American-born environmental activist who dedicated her life to advocating for the rights of the poor and protecting the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. She was tragically murdered in 2005 in Brazil as a direct result of her relentless efforts to stop illegal logging and land grabbing. Margulis was deeply moved by her work, which sparked his desire to create a business that was instilled with purpose and not necessarily financially motivated. "I wanted to walk with purpose and do something meaningful," he said, echoing the values he cultivated at Emmanuel.

The Birth of Bees and Thank You

Inspired by his love for grilled cheese and his commitment to environmental causes, Margulis founded Bees and Thank You shortly after graduating from Emmanuel. The concept was simple yet powerful: sell delectable grilled cheese sandwiches made from local products from food trucks at festivals, fairs, and concerts, and use the platform to raise awareness about the plight of honey bees.

The idea of saving bees came to Margulis almost serendipitously. A chance encounter with a bee trapped in his house during the height of the Bee Colony Collapse Disorder media buzz made him realize the importance of these creatures. "I didn't want to kill the bee; I wanted to save it," he explained. This incident, coupled with the rhyme "grilled cheese to save the bees," solidified his mission.


Maintaining a connection to the environment through bees is a very good way to understand our impact on nature.

Ryan Margulis '15

Creating Bee Sanctuaries

One of Margulis's significant contributions is the establishment of bee sanctuaries. His first sanctuary is on private land owned by his brother, adjacent to a large reservation. Another is at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley. These sanctuaries provide safe havens for bees, free from the chemicals and monocultures of commercial farming.

Margulis's goal is to create 500 sanctuaries nationwide, a vision he admits is ambitious but not unattainable. "It's a bigger goal than we initially thought, but there's still room for growth," he said. He acknowledges the challenges, especially in convincing farmers to allocate land for bee sanctuaries instead of crops, but he remains hopeful about raising awareness and driving change.

bee sanctuary

Local and Raw

The honey used in Bees and Thank You food trucks comes from local farmers, and it's raw and unprocessed. Margulis's commitment to supporting local agriculture aligns with his broader mission of sustainability and environmental consciousness. "We go through a significant amount of honey, around 4,000 pounds last year, all sourced from local farms," he noted.

Looking Ahead

Margulis continues to leverage his Emmanuel College connections and the values he learned there to grow his business and advocacy efforts. His story illustrates the power of combining passion with purpose. By selling grilled cheese sandwiches and advocating for bees, he is making a tangible impact on both the local community and the broader environmental movement.

Ryan Margulis's journey from a college cafeteria worker to the founder of a mission-driven business demonstrates that with the right blend of passion, purpose, and perseverance, one can indeed change the world—one grilled cheese sandwich at a time.

Check out Bees and Thank You's recent appearance on WBZ's "Food Truck Fridays" segment: