The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund makes it easy for landowners to determine the best way to get involved– while supporting the world’s pollinators. If land is currently in crop production, our field team will review yield maps to find areas that are less productive… land that could be actually costing the landowner money to farm. We offer a science-driven solution that designs precision habitats to be planted on land that isn’t optimal for production. For just $100 an acre, we can build effective habitats for honey bees, monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

Landowner incentives include free seed and an annual rental and planting payment. Contracts are available for three, four, five or six years. Most landowners opt for six years. Funds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s important to enroll before available funding for the year is fully enrolled.

What qualifications does a landowner have to meet to convert acres to pollinator habitat through The Bee & Butterfly Fund?

The program is simple and straightforward, with few qualifications, making it easy for landowners to support pollinator health by enrolling existing acreage. To view the program guidelines, click here.

Will I still be able to hunt on the land?

All rights and decisions regarding access to the land for hunting remain with the landowner. 

Will I still be able to use the land for grazing?

Enrolled acres are restricted from haying, mowing, shredding and/or grazing from April 1 to September 30 of each year of the contract. This requirement ensures that the planting benefit of the pollinator habitat is available at the most critical times of the year. Landowners are able to hay or graze the contracted acres outside of the April 1 to September 30 timeline.

What if I have used herbicides for crops previously grown on the site?

For areas that were formerly in cropland with herbicide application in the preceding 40 months, the herbicide use must be reviewed prior to enrollment by a Pheasants Forever biologist. Land that has had herbicides with a residual carryover applied to it is unlikely to be successful in establishing the pollinator habitat. Some examples of herbicide use considerations that would prevent successful pollinator habitat establishment would include:

Herbicides and the number of months needed before planting pollinator habitat after the last herbicide application*:

Anthem     18 months
Authority Assist     30 months
Callisto     18 months
Dicamba     4 months
Dual II Magnum     12 months
Extreme     40 months
FirstRate     18 months
Flexstar GT 3.5     18 months
Glyphosate       0 months
Hornet WDG     26 months
Impact     18 months
Liberty 280 SL     6 months
OpTill or OpTill PRO     40 months
Outlook     4 months
Princep 4L     18 months
Pursuit     40 months
Starane Flex     12 months
Stinger     18 months
Surestart     26 months

*This herbicide summary is incomplete and does not contain all of the pre- and post-emergent herbicides that will have a negative impact on the establishment of pollinator habitat. When project sites have a history of herbicide application in the 40 months prior to enrollment in the Honey Bee & Monarch Butterfly Partnership, herbicide history must be reviewed by a The Bee & Butterfly Fund biologist prior to enrollment. Source: Herbicide rotation restrictions in forage and cover cropping systems. Wisconsin crop weed science, University of Wisconsin – Extension. 

How do I plant the seed?

Plant the pollinator habitat seeding mixtures into two separate block plantings by May 25 of the initial year of the contract. Do not mix the pollinator habitat seeding mixtures together at the time of planting. While both honey bees and monarch butterflies will use and benefit from each of the pollinator habitat seeding mixtures, they are to be planted in separate plantings to help ensure the success of the planting establishment and development.

Use a no-till grass drill to ensure the proper planting of mixtures. Seeding depth is critically important to the success of pollinator habitat seeding mixtures. Due to the nature of the species used in the mixtures and their associated seed sizes, do not plant seeds deeper than 1/8 of an inch.

Tillage before seeding this mixture is not recommended or encouraged. Using a no-till grass drill allows planting without the use of tillage. If the site has any known history of noxious or invasive weeds like thistles, tillage before seeding will only encourage those aggressive weed species and reduce the success and effectiveness of the seeding mixtures.

Can I use herbicide or other weed control?

An herbicide application of Glyphosate at a rate of 2 quarts per acre prior to the initial seeding of the pollinator habitat seeding mixtures may be necessary to help reduce early weed competition. In areas with known or suspected weed competition, this strategy will help ensure your overall success.

If weed competition in the project is concern, contact the Fund for approved weed control options. When necessary, approved weed control options will likely be limited to: shredding at an approved height and frequency, herbicide spot spraying, manual spot weed control or use of a weed wick with approved herbicide and timing.

How do I get the habitat seed mixes?

The pollinator habitat seeding mixtures will be provided in the program at no cost to landowners. Our biologists have designed seeding mixtures to meet specific habitat and nutritional requirements for the target species to ensure maximum wildlife benefits are being obtained. All seed orders will be delivered directly to landowners, with the fluffy seed separated from the small, slick seeds. This seed mixing combination is designed for projects that will be planted using a no-till grass drill with multiple seed boxes.

What happens if the contract terms aren’t met?

Violation of the contract can result in forfeiture of paid and future payments. This includes annual rental payments, planting incentive payments and the cost of pollinator habitat seeding mixtures.

For 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!”

Zac Browning, Co-owner, Browning’s Honey Co., Inc.

“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!”

Danielle Downey, Executive Director, Project Apis m.

"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."

Peter S. Berthelsen, Director of Habitat Partnerships, Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever