Jan 10, 2014 • By

Helping the bees that help Muir Glen

Bees are important to us – and not just BuzzBee, the “spokes bee” for Honey Nut Cheerios.

Bees pollinate Green Giant broccoli and cauliflower, fruit for Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Yoplait yogurt, and they provide honey for Honey Nut Cheerios and Nature Valley granola bars.

So we’re working to restore bee populations across the U.S.

“General Mills has been aware of the decline in native bees and honey bees due to diseases and viruses, as well as the decline in their habitat,” says Tom Rabaey, principal scientist in crop biosciences at General Mills. “That’s why we’ve been working on bee projects for three years.”

A few of the projects we’re working on include:

-Planting native plants next to several California Muir Glen tomato fields to serve as new habitat for bumblebees.

-Planting native plants next to our test farm in Le Sueur, Minn.

-A grant to Conservation Marketplace of Minnesota by the General Mills Foundation to increase bee habitat on 10 more Minnesota farms.

-A 700-acre almond orchard in California to produce “bee-friendly almonds,” funded through a grant from Small Planet Foods and General Mills.


In California, General Mills has teamed with researches from the University of California-Davis and the Xerces Society, an organization devoted to protecting wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates (such as bees) and their habitats.

Not only is a growth in native habitat good for bees, it’s good for farmers too.

“We know that bumblebees are important for tomato pollination, so having pollinator habitat adjacent to the (Muir Glen) field in California can lead to a five percent increase in tomato yield,” Tom says.

Muir Glen

Studies have also shown that tomatoes pollinated by native bees produce larger and more fruit. With time, research and results on its side, Muir Glen hopes to convince other farmers to participate by having native wildflowers planted next to their fields too.

As the project progresses, General Mills will share our findings with all farmers, included those who grow for competitors so everyone will benefit – but especially the bees.

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  • Beatriz Moisset

    Glad to know that General Mills is working with the Xerces Society and UC Davis. Indeed, improving habitats and helping native pollinators is beneficial for the farmer.

    Is that a clover blossom? It looks like the honey bee isn’t tripping the flower and effecting pollination, but rather stealing nectar from the side. I can’t tell for sure, but I know that nectar robbing happens often with alfalfa flowers and honey bees. This is why alfalfa bees and alkali bees are better pollinators of alfalfa than honey bees. The clover flower has a similar structure and I wouldn’t be surprised if honey bees avoid tripping them too.

  • sharonjackson

    This is wonderful that the more forward looking and progressive companies in the food industry are paying attention and taking action. Congratulations, General Mills. Is it true what I read that you will me making the original Cheerios GMO free? If so, you will have a very happy returning customer.

  • Jason Graham

    Thanks for recognizing the critical work that bees do to put food on our tables! We have developed a citizen science project at http://www.ufnativebuzz.com that helps provide nesting habitat for native bees. Please feel free to check us out!