For the second year in a row, Western Monarch counts are below 30,000 according to a recently released count by the Xerces Society. The past two years have shown a sharp decrease in Western Monarch populations since 1997. Declines are thought to be due to a combination of factors including loss of overwintering sites, climate change, and a decline in biodiversity and forage availability.
PAm’s Seeds for Bees® program works with California growers and farmers to put more forage on the agricultural landscape, and in 2019, was primed to bring Monarch habitat into the mix. In response to the crisis facing Western Monarchs, PAm has developed a pilot program to work with growers and increase Monarch Habitat – specifically in California’s Central Valley, where almonds are prominent and there is a high potential for suitable habitat. You can learn more about Seeds for Bees® here.
In 2019, 5 farmers and growers agreed to participate in the pilot program by planting 9.7 acres collectively, of a specially designed PAm Monarch Habitat Mix including 1,914 milkweed plugs. These seeds and plants will be monitored for success, with the intention of assessing and refining the program and scaling it up as opportunity and funding are available.
The Almond Board of California recently announced a Five Point Pollinator Protection Plan which includes increasing floral diversity in almond orchards by working with Seeds for Bees®. Seeds for Bees® can also help almond growers qualify for Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Farming Certification while providing additional benefits to farmers and growers by improving soil health, retaining water, providing a natural weed control, reducing dust, and more.
Since 2016, the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund has been working with farmers and growers in 12 Midwestern States to plant high-quality pollinator habitat, including over 13.1 Million milkweed seeds and 3,617 acres of habitat that will remain on the landscape for a minimum of 5 years.
In 2019, Eastern Monarchs saw a slight increase in population in overwintering sites in Mexico - an encouraging rebound from an all-time low in 2014 and the highest number we have seen in over ten years.