First Annual Feed a Bee Fall Planting Tour with The Wildlife Society and Community Partners Helps Bring Pollinator Health to Groups across the U.S.
Last fall, we were fortunate to work with valuable partners across the country to sow a healthier spring for pollinators. Through Feed a Bee’s premier partnership with The Wildlife Society, we’ve scattered seeds from north to south, east to west to engage local communities in promoting and protecting pollinator health.
The entire premise of our first annual Feed a Bee fall forage tour was to seek out those who are just as passionate about bee health as we are here at Bayer. In many different ways, they’re doing their part to educate the community on the unique contribution pollinators make to our ecosystem, particularly, the pollination of many of our favorite crops. Beyond that, they’re working with local beekeepers and growers to ensure pollinator health is protected and valued during day-to-day operations. We’re fortunate to be able to partner with The Wildlife Society, which shares a common goal of ensuring that pollinators are provided adequate sources of nutrition and habitat, and other like-minded organizations nationwide to accomplish these goals. Members of The Wildlife Society’s local chapters helped determine the ultimate mix of native wildflower seeds used for each planting and were even able to take part in sowing the seeds.
Sowing Seeds across the Country
For our first stop of the tour, we headed to Texas Tech University, where a partnership with Feed a Bee is coming to life via student research. Students in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, led by Dr. Scott Longing, an assistant professor of entomology and member of The Wildlife Society, are fascinated with the workings of these fuzzy insects and their role in crop production. By investigating bees’ foraging patterns and other aspects of how they buzz from plant to plant, the students hope to discover how to best guide local growers’ planting habits, in addition to aiding water conservation efforts in drought conditions. The research is funded via a multiyear conservation and innovation grant from USDA. During this planting event, we had the opportunity to hear research presentations from both Scott Longing and the three graduate students working with him, as well as from representatives of USDA, on the importance of the findings. Participants hand-scattered native seeds across a dedicated pollinator plot, the blooms of which will serve as the foundation for much of the research once they emerge this spring. We also visited the Growing Recruits for Urban Business (GRUB) program to plant additional forage and teach students who are part of this community garden the role pollinators play in bringing their produce and beautiful landscapes to life.
Next, in Illinois, Feed a Bee visited Salem4youth, a therapeutic boarding school for “at risk” young men, to engage the community in an interactive field day. Aimed specifically at area growers and local pollinator enthusiasts, the event featured four interactive sessions on plant choice, bee education, sustainable agriculture and ground prep taught by experts in those areas. During an interactive planting, participants also scattered native wildflower seeds that were specially selected, with help from The Wildlife Society and local seed vendors, to thrive in the region. These spring blooms will benefit the onsite hives that are part of Salem4youth’s curriculum. We were even joined by USDA’s Farm Service Agency, along with valuable community partners and growers who know of Salem4youth’s commitment to promoting bee health. To conclude this robust and exciting stop, we raffled off four bee-themed gift baskets to lucky winners in our audience.
During the tour, plantings also took place at McCarty Family Farms in Kansas and with The Packers of Indian River in Florida. Each partner set aside and planted a total of at least five acres of wildflowers to provide forage for our pollinators. We are truly grateful for the overwhelming support we have received.
Why We Do It
We’re proud to protect pollinators and promote bee health each and every day. It’s thanks to incredible allies like these that Feed a Bee has been able to plant more than two billion wildflowers across the country over the past two years! Knowing that committed partners are engaging with their communities, bringing the mission of Feed a Bee to life and furthering its purpose on a local level is what the buzz is all about!