Project Apis m. has been advocating to support bees in agriculture for years, funding research projects and also improving bee nutrition by planting forage. Seeds for Bees in California provides free seed to growers to plan cover crops around their orchards, benefitting the grower while increasing duration, diversity and density of blooms available to bees. In 2017, PAm also helped launch the Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund, a program to improve summer forage in the Upper Midwest for bees after their pollination services are done. All participants have been very satisfied with our programs, and there is a waiting list of growers, beekeepers, and landowners! However, we won’t just speculate how good it is. These PAm programs are currently part of studies by scientists to gather data about the quality of our specific forage for honey bees and other pollinators. Some of this work is in press already and the news is impressive (stay tuned for updates)! PAm’s forage programs are focused where they can do the most good: in California where the majority of the nation’s managed bees are moved in to pollinate almonds, and in the Upper Midwest where a majority of the nation’s summer bees are found in just a few states!
A map from this recent research study full of great information about wild bees, shows very clearly the ‘red zones’ in the two areas we are working, California’s central valley and the Upper Midwest. These are key areas that host managed bees; it’s where we need bees most for agriculture, and unfortunately it is also where their sustenance is declining rapidly. When habitat and forage resources erode in these areas, all pollinators lose. In contrast, when we develop habitat by planting forage there, honey bees and wild bees can all gain! In the Upper Midwest we can also expect benefits to extend to Monarch butterflies, songbirds, game birds and other wildlife. We couldn’t be more excited! We hope you will join Project Apis m. and support these programs to replace what has been lost--critical forage on the landscape for pollinators. As we work to solve the complexities of the stressors our bees face, the simplest help we can offer in the meantime is providing them good forage!
Danielle Downey is the Executive Director for Project Apis m. She has been working with honey bees and the parasites that plague them for over 20 years.