How To Help Bees and Why It's So Important

How to help the bees and why it's important to food security

One in Three Bites of Food Depends on Bees & Other Pollinators

For years now there has been concern over declining bee populations and the crisis labeled colony collapse disorder. While science hones in on the various causes, General Mills, owners of Cheerios brand cereal, has launched a Canada-wide campaign to educate consumers about the impact of declining bee populations.

To prove that they’re really serious about the cause, the company has cut the iconic bee from the cereal packaging, leaving an empty white silhouette of the bee in its place.

Their “Bring Back the Bees” campaign also offers Canadians a way to help bee populations survive, and hopefully thrive. The idea is to encourage Canadians to plant wildflowers to help nourish the bees. And General Mills is supplying the wildflower seeds, in partnership with Vesey’s Seeds.

As a marketing program the company has a huge investment and lofty goals: the initiative has surpassed its initial goal of helping Canadians plant 35 million wildflowers, a flow for every Canadian. 
General Mills is promoting it using the best tool they have – their Honey Nut Cheerios cereal boxes. The entire box includes information about declining bee populations and why this is significant, for all of us and not just a national brand cereal made with honey.

The campaign also focuses on all bee populations, not just honeybees. There are thousands of species of bees in North America and native bee species are more effective pollinators than honeybees since they’re after the pollen while honeybees are in search of nectar.

One in Three Bites of Food Depends on Bees & Other Pollinators

According to bee specialist Marla Spivak (the Bring Back the Bees website links to her TED Talk) one in three bites of food that we eat depends on bees and other pollinators but since WWII modern farming practices have been systematically killing them off by eliminating the food that bees need to survive.

Modern Farming Practices are Killing off Bees

While parasites and disease have always plagued bees, changes to the way we farm are making it more difficult for bees to find food and undernourished bees can’t fight disease. Monoculture farming has created what Spivak calls “agricultural food deserts” where there are no flowers so no food for bees. Monoculture farms are also more dependent on pesticides and one popular class of pesticides –neonicotinoids – is especially deadly to bees. Nectar and pollen contaminated with this neurotoxin can kill bees or make them so disoriented that they’re not able to find their way back to the hive.

How You Can Help

The simple act of planting bee-friendly flowers offers hope. Visit bringbackthebees.ca to request your free packet of wildflower seeds or plant your own. Bees have good colour vision and love bright, showy flowers. They are especially drawn to blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers. Plant your flowers in single-species clumps so bees are more likely to find them and choose a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the growing season so there is a consistent source of food for bees. Avoid all pesticides.
General Mills has surpassed its goal of distributing 35 million wildflower seeds to Canadians. Visit bringbackthebees.ca for more information about this great initiative.

Comments

  1. That's interesting that many species of bees are after the pollen while the honey bee is after the nectar. Hats off to General Mills. Thanks for this Bridgett.

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