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Oct 13, 2014 • By

How you can help the bees

When you think of planting flowers, you usually don’t think of using an airplane.

But much like how water can be dropped on a wildfire, Cascadian Farm recently found a plane to drop colorful “Seedles” – small balls made from compost, clay and seeds – on a field near an organic farm in Yolo County, California.

Why?

Because wildflowers are important to the future of bees.

The “seed ball drop” last month was captured on video to help Cascadian Farm launch Bee Friendlier, a new cause platform for the brand to increase awareness of the decline of bees and the small changes we can all make to help bees thrive.

In a few years, the field in that video will transform into a more than a million colorful flowers and food for thousands of bees.

The decline of bees, which are so important to the sustainability of crops around the world, has been well-documented. In the U.S., the bee population has been dropping for decades – from around 4.5 million hives in 1945 to around 2 million in 2007 – due to colony loss and multiple causes, including diseases and parasites, pesticides and lack of flowers to support bee nutrition.

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The entire food industry depends on a healthy and abundant bee population. 35 percent of crop production worldwide depends on pollinators helping plants produce fruits and seeds. The crops that bees pollinate, like almonds, blueberries and apples, impact about one third of what we eat every day.

Cascadian Farm is taking the lead on the Bee Friendlier program – almost all of the products they sell are dependent on bees. Bee Friendlier emphasizes education of the colony loss issue, but also how you and I can do something about it.

“As we did research we discovered that while most consumers are aware that bees are in trouble, hardly anyone knows what they can do to help,” says Taylor West, marketing manager for Cascadian Farm. “So our goal is to help people act to help the bees, and provide a program they can easily participate in to make a difference.”

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Through the Bee Friendlier campaign, Cascadian Farm is helping consumers drive donations toward three bee friendlier actions:

1) Planting wildflowers (Visit Bee-Friendlier.com for what to plant in your area)

2) Supporting research that promotes the health of bees and other pollinators

3) Training and educating farmers, governments, and businesses about pollinator preservation

Consumers can access codes from select Cascadian Farm products and “Selfbee” photos created in the Bee-Friendlier.com Bee Booth. For every code redeemed online at Bee-Friendlier.com before December 31, 2014, Cascadian Farm will donate fifty cents – up to $150,000 – to the Xerces Society and the University of Minnesota Bee Lab.

“By encouraging consumers to plant wildflowers this fall – and by donating funds to help The Xerces Society plant wildflower bee habitats – Cascadian Farm is proving its commitment to the bees because we know wildflowers help,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of The Xerces Society. “We’re proud to partner with a leading organic company that sets an incredible example for environmental stewardship through research, education, philanthropy and calls to action that work.”

The Xerces Society is the leading conservation organization supporting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, and a strong partner with General Mills, as is the University of Minnesota Bee Lab, which conducts cutting-edge research to promote the health of bees.

“Efforts to protect and preserve our precious pollinators continue to be vitally important. We need to continue to research causes of colony loss and solutions, and educate about the ongoing issues facing bees,” said Dr. Marla Spivak, director of the University of Minnesota Bee Lab. “Cascadian Farm’s Bee Friendlier program will give a louder, more prominent voice to what’s happening with the bees and the small steps we can all take, together, to make a difference.”

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Cascadian Farm envisions Bee Friendlier as a program that is in it for the long haul, fueled by the everyday actions of consumers.

“Every time a consumer touches this program, we’re making a tangible positive impact to help the bees. You feel better about the world because you’re planting beautiful flowers and you’re gaining a better understanding of how to work with nature,” says Taylor. “You also realize that it’s not just farmers who make a difference, but anyone can make a difference in your own home or garden, on your front porch or back porch in a planter, and those little changes can all add up to make a huge collective impact.”

The launch of Bee Friendlier follows a cereal that Cascadian Farm introduced in June – Buzz Crunch Honey Almond – available only at Whole Foods. The brand donated $1 for each purchase, to the Xerces Society. The packaging served as a bee tutorial, filled with facts about the importance of bees.

Editor’s note: General Mills is involved in several projects involving bees, you can learn more about those in “Celebrating bees during National Pollinator Week.”

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