Why We Love the Xerces Society
If you're reading this article, you probably know that Project Hive Pet Company's mission is to save the bees. We tackle this issue by creating awareness and donating a percentage of our profits to our partners, the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund and the Canadian Honey Council. These non-profits then work to establish high-quality pollinator habitats to ensure bee populations thrive. There are so many other wonderful bee advocacy organizations out there, so we want to highlight a few in our blog. Continue reading to learn more about the Xerces Society and their work to protect pollinators.
What is the Xerces Society?
The Xerces Society, named after the first butterfly in North America to go extinct due to human activities, was founded in 1971 by biologist and author Dr. Robert Michael Pyle. The Xerces Society is a science-based organization that uses applied research, advocacy, education, and policy work to conserve and protect invertebrate species, including bees and other pollinators.
We recently caught up with Deborah Seiler, the Director of Communications for the Xerces Society. She explains that they work "to protect invertebrates and their habitats [because] invertebrates include many of our most important and overlooked animals, from native bees and butterflies to dung beetles. They pollinate our crops, clean up waste, cycle nutrients, feed wildlife, control pests, and generally keep the planet functioning! They are also endlessly fascinating and beautiful, worth protecting in their own right." She continues:
"Since there are so many invertebrates and we know so little about them, science has to be at the core of everything we do," Seiler says. "One way we approach this is through the Xerces Society's community science programs like the Bumble Bee Atlas and Western Monarch Count, which engage volunteers to seek out where species occur and how their populations are faring. We also partner on traditional research, like our recent paper with the University of Nevada-Reno that identified harmful pesticides in nursery plants and ultimately informed new legislation proposing a USDA label for pollinator-safe plants."
How Does the Xerces Society Help Save the Bees?
In 2018, the Xerces Society launched The Bumble Bee Atlas project, which aims to document where bumble bee populations occur so the Xerces Society and other conservation organizations can appropriately target their efforts. After receiving training, community scientists run surveys and report their findings back to the atlas where the data is collected. In 2021, 1,685 volunteers made 14,520 observations of 35 different bumble bee species.
The Xerces Society uses this research and others to inform their conservation efforts. Along with other invertebrates, the Xerces Society works to protect honey bees, native bees, and other pollinators. (To learn more about the difference between honey and native bees, read this blog post.)
How Does the Xerces Society Measure Their Impact?
For pollinators, the Xerces Society primarily focuses on habitat restoration. As it's impossible to count the number of pollinators they actually save, measuring the quality and quantity of habitat is the best way to measure their impact.
"One thing we pay attention to is change in habitat acres and quality," Seiler explains. "We want to know that there are fewer acres being sprayed with pesticides, more home pollinator gardens, more critical habitats protected or restored, etc."
What Has the Xerces Society Accomplished?
The Xerces Society achieves habitat restoration through three main programs: the Bee Better Certification, Bee City USA, Bee Campus USA, and the habitat kit program. Here are their results.
Bee Better Certification
In 2021, the Xerces Society restored 263,000 acres of pollinator habitat on farms, contributing to the 1.8 million acres they've restored over the last decade. As part of their work to restore pollinator habitat on farms, the Xerces Society runs the Bee Better Certification program, which identifies farmers and businesses that support pollinators through their management practices, like creating habitats for pollinators and protecting them from pesticides and diseases. Bee Better Certified farmers and corporations carry the Bee Better Certified seal so consumers can use their purchasing power to help support the conservation of pollinators. As of 2022, 14,000 acres of farmland are Bee Better Certified.
Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA
The Xerces Society also works with communities through their Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA programs. Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates make commitments to create and improve pollinator habitats, reduce pesticide usage, and involve their communities in pollinator conservation education and service. Currently, 359 city and campus affiliates engage over one million people in pollinator conservation.
Habitat Kit Program
Another way in which the Xerces Society helps bees and pollinators is through their habitat kit program. The Xerces Society partners with local residents and plant nurseries to provide communities with native plants specific to their region that will help create habitats for pollinators. In 2021, the Xerces Society's community partners planted 82,340 native plants as a part of 334 habitat kit projects. Read this blog post to learn more about the benefits of having native plants in your garden.
Besides Conservation Projects, How Else Does the Xerces Society Help Save the Bees?
Another important aspect of the Xerces Society's pollinator conservation work is the resources and education they provide. They have an extensive database of resources specific to different regions of the U.S. that includes plant lists, identification and monitoring guides, and habitat management information. In 2021, they launched their X Kids program, which combines storytelling and science-based activities to inspire the next generation of conservationists; the X Kids activity book has already been downloaded 3,613 times.
Seiler explains the Xerces Society's multi-faceted conservation method, "We take an 'all hands on deck' approach to conservation and believe everyone has a role to play, whether you are a home gardener, farmer, company, public worker, or policymaker." She continues, "The Xerces Society conducts research, protects and restores habitats, advocates for better conservation policy, and works to educate and inspire others."
We at Project Hive Pet Company want to the Xerces Society for taking the time to talk to us and for all the great work you do!