The iconic Cheerios bee, BuzzBee, disappeared from cereal boxes earlier this month to promote the #BringBackTheBees giveaway. General Mills said in a news release that it aimed to highlight the alarming rate at which bee populations are declining.
"Pollinators are critical to our environment," the news release said. "More than two-thirds of the crops used to feed people, accounting for 90 percent of the world's nutrition, are pollinated by bees. With deteriorating colony health, pollinators everywhere have been disappearing by the millions."
General Mills is giving away the seeds, in partnership with Veseys Seeds, on the Cheerios website. The company asked people to plant the seeds in "a bee-friendly habitat in your yard."
"As a General Mills cereal built around nutrition, helping pollinators get the key nutrition they need through fun, family-friendly activities like planting wildflowers is a natural fit," Cheerios marketing director Susanne Prucha said.
The giveaway will run through spring, according to a General Mills spokesperson.
Cheerios giving away free wildflower seeds to help save the bees
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Here's a freebie that'll have you buzzing. Cheerios is hoping to boost global bee populations by giving away wildflower seeds. You'll get your wildflower seeds in four to six weeks.
Bee populations have been declining in recent years. That's why Honey-Nut Cheerios mascot "Buzz" has been missing from cereal boxes.
The Cheerios website says: "Buzz is missing because there's something serious going on with the world's bees. Bee populations everywhere have been declining at an alarming rate, and that includes honeybees like Buzz."
For the first time, a bee species in the continental United States has been declared endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The rusty patched bumblebee is in worrisome decline and it is a race to keep it from becoming extinct, the agency said.
“Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline,” Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius said.
The population of the rusty patched bumblebee has shrunk by 87% since the late 1990s, the wildlife service said.
Bees help pollinate 35% of the world’s food, and bumblebees pollinate everything from tomatoes to cranberries, blueberries and melons.
There are a number of reasons for the crash of pollinator bees worldwide. Mainly, those are habitat loss (nearly 40% of all land is used for agriculture, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization), climate change (the land that’s left is changing, and this is shrinking the ranges of some bees) and rampant chemical use.
“The rusty patched bumblebee is among a group of pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, experiencing serious declines across the country,” Melius said. “Why is this important? Pollinators are small but mighty parts of the natural mechanism that sustains us and our world. Without them … our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand.”
The species joins seven species of yellow-faced bees found in Hawaii on the endangered list. It is one of 47 bumblebee species in North America.
Sarina Jepsen, deputy chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s bumblebee specialist group, and a director at the Xerces Society, an environmental nonprofit, told CNN in December that about 25% of bumblebees in North America are at risk for extinction.
On Tuesday, she commended the wildlife service’s decision.
“Now that the Fish & Wildlife Service has listed the rusty patched bumblebee as endangered, it stands a chance of surviving the many threats it faces,” she said.
The rusty patched bumblebee lives in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada.
There are roughly 20,000 species of bees in the world. That’s more species than birds, amphibians, reptiles or mammals.
Bumblebees live in underground colonies, caring for a queen. Worker bees — females that don’t reproduce because they’re not the queen — fly around during the day collecting flower pollen and nectar for food and energy.
They only live for a year, except the queen who is dormant during the winter and emerges in the spring to begin a new colony with eggs fertilized during the prior fall.
Cheerios gives away wildflower seeds in effort to save honey bees
Cereal manufacturer Cheerios is giving away millions of free wildflower seeds.
The giveaway is part of Cheerios’ ‘Bring Back the Bees’ campaign. Bees are important pollinators and their populations have been in decline for years for a number of reasons, including increased use of pesticides and the loss of places to pollinate.
To give the vital insects a boost, the company teamed up with Veseys Seeds to offer 100 million wildflower seeds online. All you have to do is provide Cheerios with your shipping information.
As of noon Wednesday, it appeared all of the 100 million seed packets had already been claimed. The website shows where the seeds have gone, and many of them seem to have made their way to Colorado.
Cheerios is also committed to filling its own oat farms with wildflowers to give bees more places to pollinate.