Introducing Peter Berthelsen, Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund Partnership Coordinator
The issue of “pollinators” represents what I believe is the single, greatest conservation movement of my lifetime. That’s a strong statement, but one that is built and backed by my 35 years of experience working on a wide range of wildlife, agricultural and conservation issues. I believe so strongly in this message and cause that after 26+ years with an organization that I was deeply connected and committed to, I made a change to bring more support and answers to the issue of pollinator health and habitat. The last 3 years have convinced me that pollinator health and habitat is the issue that can galvanize the concern and support of the general public. My career path led to my moment in time several years ago, with partners developing a shared vision of this innovative solution.
In June 2014, a group representing Project Apis m., Browning Honey Company and Pheasants Forever, Inc. met to discuss opportunities to impact pollinator health and habitat in a new and innovative way. There was a growing sense of frustration over the type and quality of pollinator habitat that was being delivered on the landscape through existing conservation programs. It seemed that too often, those ‘pollinator’ conservation programs were too expensive, didn’t compete well with weeds, they were complicated for landowners to participate in and produced low pollinator values. More of the same will not solve this problem, using innovative techniques we can, and we will, do better.
From that initial gathering, the development of a more effective way of delivering high quality pollinator habitat was born: The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund (BBHF). The BBHF is a unique partnership that brings innovation and technology to pollinator habitat. Some of the advancements in BBHF projects include:
Using high diversity seed mixtures that are cost-effective.
Establishing each project with 50% of the area planted to a honey bee mixture and 50% of area to a monarch butterfly mixture.
Designing seed mixtures to provide superior early weed competition outcomes.
Planting seed mixtures using techniques that encourage establishment and discourage weed competition.
Program participants receive both pollinator habitat seed mixtures free of charge.
Landowner may enroll projects for 3 to 6 years and receive annual rental payments and a planting incentive payment.
While that may sound like a simple, straight-forward approach to pollinator habitat, no other conservation program in the country brought those elements of cost-effectiveness, high pollinator value, weed competition strength, ease of enrollment and incentives.
Coneflowers and a longhorn bee in a Bee and Butterfly Habitat Planting
The BBHF comes at a critical time. This is a critical moment for the beekeeping industry and honey bee health, the population of monarch butterflies and other important pollinator species coupled with broad understanding and concern about these issues from the general public. I believe that this is our ‘moment in time’ to make a difference and offer the public a vehicle by which to improve pollinator health. ‘Moments in Time’ come to us with two important factors: 1) They don’t last very long and 2) You had better capture the momentum while you have it. Those factors make the role of the BBHF a unique opportunity in the beekeeping world right now. With three years of proven pollinator habitat success and research to prove the value of our projects, this partnership is uniquely positioned to make a difference.
With a strategic and clear message, pollinator health and habitat can touch the topic that motivates and moves to action a significant portion of the public. We just need to provide that strategic and clear message to them. Pollinators and their habitat needs are a unique ‘glue’ that allows the habitat we want and need for them to provide an important connection and solution to issues related to water quality, soil health, food sustainability, grassland songbirds, precision agriculture, right-of-way habitat, solar energy fields and other wildlife habitat……. it’s the glue that brings these issues and the people that care about them together.
Please consider how you can make a difference by financially supporting our efforts today. Your contribution will establish high quality pollinator habitat that is bringing new technology and innovation to the cause. For more detailed information about the BBHF, check out our Facebook page or go to www.BeeAndButterflyFund.org Each month, I’ll be bringing you updates on the success of the BBHF: new partners joining our effort, pollinator habitat results and how you can make a difference. I look forward to sharing with the successes of how we are capturing this moment in time to benefit pollinator health and habitat.
Pete Berthelsen currently serves as the BBHF Partnership Coordinator and is a wildlife biologist with 35 year’s experience in building and administering partnerships, designing and managing high quality habitat, and working with a wide range of partners to deliver conservation benefits. Pete Berthelsen, Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund Partnership Coordinator