Our Solution

Conservation fitting into the farm and ranch plan

Simply put, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund puts the best habitat where it makes the most sense. We believe there is room for conservation on every farm and ranch in the country – it’s just a matter of finding the right match. Acres that are not optimal for production make great habitat opportunities. Especially in today’s commodity market, farmers need to make every acre the best it can be. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund does that, with the potential for increasing net farm income if used properly and creating a successful, sustainable piece of land that’s responsibly managed.  

The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund works with private, public and corporate lands through the Seed A Legacy program by providing free, or heavily discounted seed mixes depending on the project size, pollinator seed mixtures as well as guidance on how to prepare, establish and manage pollinator habitat for 5 or more years. Our NextGen Habitat Projects have been documented to provide 10x the pollinator value of pollinator conservation programs and they provide those results in a manner that is cost-effective, establishes quickly, better handles weed competition and has increased pollinator results. The program has been so successful to date that there is a waiting list wanting to participate and establish pollinator habitat.

Why do pollinators need our support?

Annual honey bee hive loss now stands at about 40%. The bees we rely on to pollinate in agricultural systems travel to blooming crops in the spring. After they pollinate those crops, most will replenish somewhere in the Midwest. By providing good nutrition, we can ensure a bounty of honey bees and mitigate their stress, thereby developing stronger, healthier populations for the next year’s pollination cycle. In addition, the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly is in serious decline. In just the last two decades, its numbers have been reduced by 80 percent. Without intervention and additional support, it has been predicted to have a 60% likelihood of extinction in the next 20 years.

How can creating a better habitat help?

Nutrition is the most basic and fundamental requirement for healthy pollinator populations. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund works to give monarch butterflies, honey bees and native pollinators access to abundant, diverse and high-quality floral resources to help them live longer and healthier so that they can become more productive at the same time.

How does the program work?

The Seed A Legacy program makes it easy for the owners of private, public and corporate lands to establish pollinator habitat. Science-driven NextGen Habitat Projects are created to provide the most pollinator benefit possible. NextGen Habitat Projects are designed to be very cost-effective, establish quickly, provide greater pollinator benefits and better handle weed competition.  

Landowners receive free pollinator seed mixes as well as guidance on site preparation, establish and management of the projects for 5 years or more.


What is the mission of The Bee & Butterfly Fund?

Habitat loss is one of the most severe threats to monarch butterflies, honey bees, and other pollinators. While it is not the only issue affecting them, it is one that all stakeholders can agree, needs focus, as access to good, clean forage is the most basic and fundamental requirement in sustaining healthy populations for pollinators. As more and more research is published about the negative effects of agricultural land use change on soil, water, wildlife, climate and pollinators, the opportunity to garner support for establishing habitat from many stakeholders continues to increase.

Currently, there are other pollinator habitat efforts, but none of them are designed or suited well enough to reach the most important goals. The purpose of The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is to support the needs of pollinators through a private conservation program that is designed to accomplish two primary goals.

The first goal is to replace critical forage in areas where pollinators traditionally live. Owners of private, public and corporate lands are provided free seed and technical assistance to establish and maintain the project. The program’s effects are verified and monitored by research, and also by the beekeepers and landowners involved.

The monitoring and research are designed to deliver the second goal, which is to demonstrate a better model for pollinator conservation through the use of more cost-effective, pollinator-preferred seed mixtures, better establishment procedures and management techniques which reduce weed competition issues and boost pollinator foraging opportunities. The habitat mixtures are designed to produce maximum value on every acre throughout the growing season by increasing the diversity and density of bloom.

How does the Seed A Legacy Pollinator Habitat Program work?

The program delivers habitat in the following manner:

How many projects have been created so far?

Beginning as a pilot program in just 2 states in 2015 and 2016, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund has expanded its impact by growing to 6 states in 2017 and now 11 states with the Seed A Legacy program in 2018. To date, we have established 225 projects on 2,560 acres of habitat. There is a waiting list for participants!

How do you select projects for enrollment?

Applications are reviewed, scored and ranked based on key criteria to ensure the most impactful projects are enrolled. Factors influencing selection include project size, previous cropping history, proximity to an existing or known apiary, current site condition, surrounding landscape to the proposed project, and others. 

How are NextGen Habitat Projects different from others?

What pollinators do your habitats support?

NextGen Habitat Projects are documented to provide critical benefits to a wide range of native and managed pollinator species as well as grassland songbirds and other wildlife.  For this program, enrolled projects receive two separate seeding mixtures:

Are there any limits to what land can be included in the program?

The Seed A Legacy program is open to private, public and corporate land enrollment. Lands that are currently in native rangeland are not eligible for enrollment in the program.

Land that is currently in grass cover (non-native rangeland) will need to have the existing grass cover eliminated through herbicide application (using both a fall and spring spraying of a non-selective herbicide) prior to enrollment in the program.

What type of contract do I sign in the Seed A Legacy program?

Landowners enrolling in the Seed A Legacy program agree to maintain and manage the project for a minimum of 5 years. In exchange, the BBHF provides the project with seed mixtures and guidance on the establishment and management of pollinator projects.

Do I need to be near an apiary (beekeeper)?

Part of the application ranking process is the location of the proposed project to a registered or known honey bee apiary in the state. Visit the appropriate state website to determine the location of your project to the nearest registered apiary.

Do I have to allow public access to the project?

There are no requirements for allowing the public access to lands that are enrolled into the Seed A Legacy program. All rights and decisions regarding access to the land remain with the landowner.

Can I use the land for grazing or haying?

Enrolled acres are open to haying, shredding, mowing and grazing activities except for the dates of April 1 to September 30 of each year of the contract. This requirement ensures that the pollinator benefit of the project is available at the most critical times of the year.

What if I’ve used herbicide on the land I want to enroll in the program?

For areas that were formerly in cropland with herbicide applications on them in the preceding 40 months, the herbicide use will be reviewed during the application process. Land that has had herbicides with a 12-month residual carryover may be unlikely to successfully establish pollinator habitat.

How do I get the habitat seed mixes?

The pollinator habitat seeding mixtures will be provided to Seed A Legacy program landowners. Seed mixtures have been designed for your location to meet specific habitat and nutritional requirements that ensure maximum 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 seedboxes.

Can I purchase seed mixtures if I'm not enrolled in the Seed A Legacy program?

If you are interested in obtaining Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund seed mixtures for your next project, we can still design and make available seed mixtures that meet our NextGen Habitat Project guidelines, are cost-effective and will provide great pollinator value.

The minimum seed order is 1 acre in size. Contact us at info@beeandbutterflyfund.org for more information about purchasing seed.

How can I find out more information or enroll in the program?

The first step in the enrollment process is to complete the Seed A Legacy program application. Make sure to read and consider the complete Program Guidelines prior to submitting your application. Questions? Contact us at info@beeandbutterflyfund.org, or call 800-407-5337 to talk to a biologist.

“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, Partnership Coordinator, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund