Jun 10, 2015, 09:00 ET
WARMINSTER, Pa., June 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In support of the President's recently-released National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, seed giant W. Atlee Burpee & Co. has donated one million Bee and Butterfly Garden flower seed packets to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Interior (DOI) to help combat rapidly dwindling populations of honey bees and other pollinators. The seed packets have been specifically designed to foster bee-friendly gardens and habitats in home and school gardens across the country.
One of every three bites of food eaten depends on pollinators, especially bees, according to a Yale research report (April 2013). Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agriculture crops in the United States. The number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States is at a record low of 2.5 million colonies (beehives) compared to 6 million colonies in 1947.
"Given the heavy dependence of certain crops on commercial pollination, reduced honey bee populations directly affect domestic agriculture," said George Ball, chairman and CEO of Burpee. "We believe strongly that home gardens designed to attract bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, will be hugely successful in reversing this downward trend. We also hope to encourage the next generation of gardeners to nurture the land and the environment," he added.
Distribution of "Burpee's Bee Garden" seed packets is being implemented by the USDA and DOI. The program was launched in April, 2015 with the distribution of seed packets to over 30,000 individuals attending the Easter Egg Roll at the White House, and the Earth Day concert in Washington, DC. To date, seed packages have been distributed by the DOI to educational programs, community and non-profit groups in 24 states, and a further 156,000 seed packets have been distributed by the USDA to 50 state conservationists to provide to requesters in each state. The National Park Service (NPS) has set up an online request/distribution system at www.nps.gov/experiences/pollinatorgarden.htm for youth group leaders and educators to receive seeds in time for planting this season.
Burpee horticulturalists worked in collaboration with the NPS to create a user-friendly seed packet featuring 21 flower varieties that are deer resistant and bloom early and late in the season to extend available nectar for bees, butterflies, moths and birds.
This initiative follows a sweeping Presidential Memorandum calling for immediate measures to "ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment" via citizen stewardship for the conservation of pollinators (from "Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators," June 14, 2014).
EDITORS' NOTE: Educational videos, B-roll, fact sheets, infographic, photographs and other resources on the Burpee Bee Garden project may be found at http://www.burpee.com/pollinators
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SOURCE W. Atlee Burpee & Co.
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