Bees of all stripes to get help from Cheerios’ mascot, Buzz

Cheerios is running a campaign to increase wildflower coverage and bring back the bees. 

Courtesy of Dan Mullen/FWS
A rusty patch bumble bee forages on a flower.

Buzz the Bee, the mascot for Honey Nut Cheerios cereal, has left his usual post to go join the fight to save his buzzing brethren.

Bees are in trouble, and General Mills, the company that produces Cheerios, wants to help. In its two-pronged campaign, the cereal hopes to promote awareness by replacing its characteristic mascot on the box with an eye-catching white silhouette, as well as habitat recovery by distributing more than 100 million free packets of wildflower seeds.  

"Buzz and his friends need our help. We’re pledging to give away 100 million wildflower seeds, in partnership with Veseys Seeds, to get the movement started," the company wrote on the campaign page.

Our flying friends pollinate more than just flowers. As much as one-third of the crops raised around the world depend on pollinators to bloom, accounting for up to half a trillion dollars of the world economy. Among the many foods that require bees are apples, mangos, peaches, strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, and grapes.

"Wild bees are a precious natural resource we should celebrate and protect," said Taylor Ricketts, a University of Vermont conservation ecologist and the architect of the nation’s first "bee map," at a conference earlier this year. "If managed with care, they can help us continue to produce billions of dollars in agricultural income and a wonderful diversity of nutritious food."

But a myriad of pressures including habitat loss, pesticide use, disease, and climate change threaten bees’ survival. A 2016 UN study found that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators worldwide face extinction, and the United States put its first bee on the endangered species list early this year. Domesticated hives aren’t safe either, dying off the alarming rate of about 30 percent per year.

As of 2016 the US had already lost about 4.4 million of the 4.5 million honeybee colonies it had in 2006, Reuters reports.

"Pollinators are small but mighty parts of the natural mechanism that sustains us and our world," said Tom Melius, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest regional director, to the Associated Press in January. "Without them, our forests, parks, meadows and shrublands, and the abundant, vibrant life they support, cannot survive, and our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand."

To avoid such a future, Cheerios is trying to tackle the habitat loss part of the problem. Bees need flowers to pollinate, as well as wild areas such as clumps of grass for nesting sites. The US Fish and Wildlife Service recommends a number of measures individuals can take to help save the rusty patch bumblebee in particular, including minimizing pesticide use, planting gardens of native flowers, and maintaining unmowed patches of grass.

The company has already reached its goal of distributing 100 million packets of wildflower seeds to people interested in planting a garden, and they’re continuing to hand them out here.

The company also distributed 100 million wildflower seeds last year in Canada, where bees are in peril as well.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.