The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund identifies opportunities to establish critical pollinator habitat to help honey bee and monarch butterfly populations thrive. Guided by the mission to increase and improve pollinator forage and habitat, the organization develops affordable, pollinator-focused seed mixes, including native plants through NextGen Habitat Projects. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund, a collaborative project of Project Apis m. and Browning’s Honey Co. brings together diverse stakeholders with similar goals.
The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund combines landowners, conservationists, scientists and beekeepers to precisely target pollinators’ needs like never before. Using funds donated by generous corporate sponsors and individual donors, the team works together to build healthy, sustainable pollinator habitat through science-based, proven results. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund has created a diverse mix of grasses and flowers that help provide the ideal habitat for pollinators and wildlife – bees, butterflies, pheasant, quail, waterfowl, upland birds, deer and more.
In addition, the NextGen Habitat Projects are differentiated from other programs by:
In response to the long-term, continued loss of high-quality, nutritious forage for honey bees and critical habit for monarch butterflies, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund (formerly Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership) was formed in 2014. A pilot program was opened to landowners in North and South Dakota. The program was intended to demonstrate how critical habitat could be developed by identifying NextGen Habitat Projects – those areas where habitat can make a measurable difference for pollinators. Results indicate that creating critical habitat can be cost-effective and highly diverse while producing outstanding results for multiple beneficiaries.
Critical habitat is disappearing in the United States. As a result, honey bees and other pollinators like monarch butterflies are in serious decline. These pollinators are essential to life as we know it. In fact, about one-third of global food production and billions in agriculture are dependent on pollinators to some degree – honey bees and other insects pollinate 80 percent of flowering plants worldwide. In addition, honey bees are vital to agriculture and pollinate most of the fruit and vegetable crops humans (and that’s not considering the impact on livestock!) consume every day – 90 different crops, making up 1/3 of our food supply!
The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund takes a unique conservation approach, offering landowners the opportunity to easily turn underutilized acreage into productive precision habitat to help save pollinators. Landowners receive free seed, three- to six-year contracts, planting incentives and annual rental payments. Funds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Since the program debuted in 2014, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund has helped landowners convert nearly 1,800 acres to ideal pollinator habitats – so much so that there is now a waiting list!
The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund combines a diverse group – landowners, conservationists, seed companies, scientists, beekeepers and more – to help maintain a proven, sustainable habitat that will contribute to vital food production in the United States. To date, the following sponsors have joined the effort: USDA-APHIS, Barkman Honey; Bayer; Beekeeping Insurance Services; Browning Honey Company; DOW/Pioneer; Heitkam’s Honey Bees; Mann Lake Ltd.; Miller Honey Farms, Inc.; Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund; National Potato Council; Nebraska Environmental Trust; Nebraska Game & Parks Commission; Pheasants Forever, Inc.; Syngenta; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; and Valent USA Corporation. Many other strong potential donors are becoming involved.
• George Hansen – Foothills Honey Co.
• Randy Verhoek – Harvest Honey Inc.
• Pat Heitkam – Heitkam’s Honey Bees
• Caydee Savinelli – Syngenta
• Marla Spivak, Ph.D. – University of Minnesota Bee Lab
• Robert Sears – Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association
For questions or more information, call 1-800-407-5337.
“The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is the bees’ buzz! The effort is integrating the very best performing habitat solutions where they are most needed, by bringing landowners and beekeepers together in a program where everyone benefits. It’s our goal to make every available acre the best it can be. It’s truly amazing just how much difference an acre can make when the habitat is engineered for maximum productivity!”
“This project is a unique conservation effort, targeting acres in regions where conversion to soy and corn is happening very fast. By identifying places where habitat makes the most sense, the bottom line improves for the grower, the beekeeper, the monarch, upland songbirds and game birds, honey bees and native pollinators – it’s a program that can’t lose!”
"The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is unique in that it has found the way to plant cost-effective pollinator habitat that establishes quickly and provides great pollinator benefits. It's the trifecta of getting great pollinator benefits onto the landscape. If we try to solve the critical problems for pollinators using the same tools and methods we have used for the last decade, we won’t be successful. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund brings new strategies, methods and partners together to save monarch butterflies, honey bees and other pollinators, not to mention the nation’s food supply and beautiful landscapes."