The Pollinator Impact

In May 2015, the White House released the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, emphasizing that the decline of bee colonies has had a direct effect on the economy and farmers.


Economic Impact

Native bees contribute over $9 billion to the economy by pollinating crops, while managed hives contribute over $15 billion. Yet from 1947 to 1990 the number of honey bee colonies in the United States has been halved.


Expensive Hives

This swift decline has resulted in a hike in hive rental prices for farmers, tripling in price from 2003 to 2009.




Limited Nutritional Diet

The decline of bee colonies can be attributed to several factors including an insufficient amount of forage to maintain bee diets. Some companies and NGOs have released pollinator mixes for small gardens, but what if there was a much more effective solution right in front of our eyes?


Harmful Parasites

Mites are a common cause of bee colony decline. Tracheal mites are deadly and gruesome. They live and reproduce in the trachea of bees, cutting off the bees’ supply of oxygen. Varroa mites cause colony death as well, by preying on young bees or larva, often causing deformities as young bees emerge from their cells.

Habitat loss is a major cause for pollinator decline; monarch butterflies, for example, use over 30 different species of milkweed to breed, of which, only 19 varieties are sold by seed distributors. Milkweed growth in the U.S. is affected by herbicide use on farms, urban development, and harsh weather conditions.
According to the National Geographic, in 2004, monarch populations migrating to Mexico reached 550 million butterflies, in 2013 the number dropped to 33 million.
Promoting research and education about the benefits of regionally adapted plant varieties such as milkweed and clovers will help end the population decline of pollinators. By using regionally adapted varieties of plants, we can take advantage of pasturelands and highway corridors to promote pollinator habitats.
Jerry Hall, president of GO Seed states, “There are over 400 million acres of pasture in the United States, and by including a variety of flowering annual clovers in our nation’s pastures we can greatly enhance the pollinator environment. An agricultural product that is beneficial to livestock can also benefit pollinators - one of our most under-appreciated resources.” Planting pollinator friendly cover crops and forage can build resources for natural pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Just imagine what 400 million acres would do for native and managed bee colonies and butterfly migration. GO Seed’s cover crops such as FIXatioN balansa clover, buckwheat, phacelia, and Frosty berseem clover can all be used for honey production. Cover crops and forage offer bees a food source and habitat, while farmers receive all of the additional monetary and environmental benefits. Sounds like a win-win.