It’s not easy being a bee. They are some of the most industrious insects on the planet – but even bees need help sometimes. Thankfully the industrial giant General Mills is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Xerces Society to plant over 100,000 acres of pollinator habit over the next five years. General Mills has promised $4 million of financial support to create new pollinator habitat for bees and butterflies.
U.S.D.A.’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide technical assistance and work with farmers around the U.S. to plant, “native wildflower field edges and flowering hedgerows.” This is the second initiative aimed to create new pollination habitat for bees that General Mills has launched this year. Jerry Lynch, the chief sustainability officer at General Mills, told Food Business News, “Pollinators supply one-third of the food and beverages that Americans consume . . . our investment will help pollinators to continue to play a key role in sustainable food production in the U.S.” He also acknowledged that, as a food producer, General Mills has an obligation to maintain bee habitat for the global system of agricultural, not just for agriculture in the states.
And Mr. Lynch is 100 percent correct – bees are essential to the agricultural process. There are 25,000 species of bees that participate in the pollination process globally. It’s estimated that around a third of the world’s agricultural production relies on pollination from bees to grow their crops. But bees’ impact does not stop at agriculture – they are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants. Much to the dismay of farmers and conservationists, the global bee population has been diminishing steadily by 30 percent every year. The extinction of bees would vastly alter our global agricultural system and the environment of the planet as well.
Diminishing habitat isn’t the only obstacle facing bees, these insects are also endangered by toxic fertilizers and pesticides many farmers use to grow their crops. General Mills is taking a step in the right direction but we need to do more. We can help create new habitat for bees in our own gardens by planting the right flowers. We can also support organic farmers who do not use harmful chemicals in their growing process. And next time you’re complaining about your workload around the water cooler –think about how had the bees have it and tell your friends!
Image source: Feng Lu/Shutterstock