Wildflowers are more than just beautiful. They're also bee friendly. With the ongoing global bee crisis — the U.S. added seven species of bees to the endangered species list last year — everyone needs to do their part to help nurture the bee population.
Cheerios is making it easy for anyone with a little, or a large, plot of dirt to help the bees. The company is giving away free wildflower seed packets to anyone who asks. The original goal was to give away 100 million seeds, and they quickly reached that goal. Despite that, the company is still giving away the free seed packets. There's no indication as to how long it'll continue to do so. If you want one of the wildflower seed packets, I'd suggest you request it immediately.
The website indicates just a few reasons why keeping the bee population as healthy as possible is important.
- 1 in 3 bites of food we eat is made possible by bees and other pollinators.
- 42 percent of bee colonies in the U.S. collapsed in 2015.
- 70 out of the top 100 human food crops are pollinated by bees.
Those who ask for seeds will be joining Cheerios parent company General Mills in planting wildflowers. By 2020, the company's "oat farms will host about 3,300 acres of nectar- and pollen-rich wildflowers, which are full of the nutrients bees and other pollinators need to stay strong."
The program isn't without its detractors, however. One of them is Kathryn Turner, an ecologist who specializes in invasive plants. Speaking to LifeHacker about the seed giveaway, Turner stressed that "no plant is inherently 'bad,' but many species can and have caused a great deal of damage when they are introduced into locations outside of their native range." Turner's concern is that all these wildflowers don't behave the same way in different parts of the country. So, for example, a forget-me-not may behave like an invasive plant in the Northeast, out competing native plants.
Cheerios has responded to comments on its Facebook page about the concerns, saying that the plants chosen in the seed packets "are not considered invasive" and were chosen for the appeal to bees and other pollinators.
If you get a packet of Cheerio's wildflower seeds, you can post photos of their progress as they grow on social media using the hashtag #bringbackthebees.