Saving Bees Through Education and Advocacy: Pollinator Partnership
As a Public Benefit and B Corp Certified Company, Project Hive Pet Company is committed to our mission of saving the bees. We do this through our partnerships with the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund and the Canadian Honey Council. We donate a percentage of our gross sales to these nonprofit organizations and, in turn, they work to establish high-quality pollinator habitats to ensure bee populations thrive. These organizations are two of many doing valuable work to save the bees, so we want to feature some other terrific organizations on our blog. So far, we’ve highlighted the University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab and the Xerces Society. Keep reading to learn about Pollinator Partnership and all they do to protect bees and other pollinators.
What is Pollinator Partnership?
Pollinator Partnership is a nonprofit organization founded in 1997 that works to protect pollinators and their habitats in North America and globally.
We recently spoke with Sara Wittenberg, Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Garden Coordinator and Arkansas NRCS Pollinator Liaison, who explained their mission is “to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research.”
Wittenberg explains that Pollinator Partnership chose this mission because “with [the] decline [of bees and other pollinators] comes not only a decrease in food production but a host of secondary effects due to the loss of ecosystem services that they provide.” She continues, “Approximately 85% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination… Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crops. That means that one out of every three bites of food you eat is there because of pollinators. Plants are the foundation for everything, so the plight of pollinators should be at the forefront of our minds.”
Wittenberg emphasizes bees’ essential role in the economy and environment. “If we want to talk dollars and cents, pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the global economy, and honey bees alone are responsible for between 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States. In addition to the food that we eat, pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife.” Read this blog post to learn more about the importance of bees and why we need to save them.
How Does Pollinator Partnership Help Save the Bees and Other Pollinators?
Pollinator Partnership makes progress for pollinator conservation in two ways: habitat creation and education and advocacy.
“The more habitat we can create, the better off our pollinators, and our planet, will be,” Wittenberg says. Through their programs, Bee Friendly Farming and Bee Friendly Gardening, Pollinator Partnership has improved over 300,000 acres of farmland and engaged 350 individuals in pollinator-friendly planting.
“Our last Pollinator Steward Certification course had over 1,400 people enrolled - that’s 1,400 people that, in order to complete their certification, are creating habitat and educating others about pollinators and how to help them,” Wittenberg says. In fact, Project Hive’s co-founder, Melissa Rappaport Schifman, took the course this past summer, and she is now a Certified Pollinator Steward! (She is also a Bee Friendly Gardening (BFG) member.)
Wittenberg describes Pollinator Partnership’s advocacy work, “We host the wildly successful Pollinator Week each June, which has the backing of the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, is endorsed by the U.S. Senate, and proclaimed by 48 state governors. To date, the Pollinator Week website has had over 40 thousand page views.”
She continues, “We also have publications in industry magazines and journals advising policy and practice. Lawmakers need to hear that pollinator conservation is important to constituents. We use the Pollinator Week platform to encourage people to tell their state and local government officials that they care about pollinator health and give them tools to celebrate pollinators.”
Their advocacy work has proved quite successful. Wittenberg explains, “We have hosted six congressional briefings, helped create and manage the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus (CP2C), and signed eleven agreements with federal agencies that manage or influence 1.5 billion acres of U.S. land.”
Wittenberg emphasizes the education aspect of their work. “Getting informational materials in the hands of the public is so important.” She continues, “We engage students in grades 3-6 by distributing over 200 BeeSmart™ School Garden Kits. We have distributed approximately 500,000 pollinator posters worldwide, which are amazingly beautiful works of art. We have created a dozen pollinator fact sheets and over ten brochures for specific target audiences to assist them in reducing pesticide use, installing habitat on rights-of-ways, and working with faith organizations to put in a pollinator garden. And anyone can benefit from our regional garden recipe cards and planting guides for guidance on what to plant in their own landscapes.” Read this blog post for more planting tips.
How Does Pollinator Partnership Measure Their Impact?
For habitat creation, Pollinator Partnership measures their impact by the acres of habitat installed, and for education initiatives, they measure the number of individuals reached.
“Programs like Project Wingspan utilize the help of hundreds of volunteers across the midwest to collect native seed from the landscape and redistribute it to habitat projects back in the states from which the seeds came, increasing habitat acres on the landscape,” Wittenberg adds. “Our Pollinator Action Team has 2,000 people doing great work for pollinators and expanding our reach…We are getting the word out, and people are eager to get involved!”
How Does Pollinator Partnership Incorporate Science and Research Into Their Work?
Pollinator Partnership bases all of its work on science, but they are also very active in researching and furthering our understanding of bees and other pollinators.
“We created and maintain a database of honey bee health research for scientists and have funded more than 30 research grants for honey bee health,” Wittenberg says. “Through a number of our programs, we assess relationships between land practices and pollinator support, especially in agricultural systems where pollinators are particularly imperiled but also crucial to food production. We have multiple initiatives to collect data on pollinators in understudied regions and have in-house peer-reviewed publications on pollinator conservation and biology. Furthermore, we initiated the National Academies of Science National Research Council study, ‘Status of Pollinators of North America,’ which generated over 300 articles.”
Pollinator Partnership also created the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, which “brings together scientists and organizations from all over the world to discuss and address pollinator issues,” Wittenberg explains.
“Pollinators need help, and we know what we need to do to help them!” Wittenberg says. “[Pollinator Partnership] scientists and research partners that have been studying pollinators for over three decades have been able to show that conservation techniques work.”
Wittenberg encourages people to become more involved in pollinator conservation. “If everyone – homeowners, local governments, national governments, and private industry – made an effort, we can change the future for pollinators and help secure our own future,” she says. “Anyone reading this can become involved today by joining our Bee Friendly Gardening or Bee Friendly Farming programs. Check out the numerous free resources on our website that can get you started on your path to being a pollinator advocate. We can all plant more habitat, use fewer pesticides, buy organic, and buy local. Join us today!”
Or better yet, become a Certified Pollinator Steward and help educate and advocate for pollinators. Every action makes a difference.