Supporting Bees AND Butterflies: Farmers, ranchers, and landowners play a vital role
This original article was published by Honey Bee Health Coalition on April 3, 2020 and can be accessed here
Planting season is upon us, and our agriculture supply chain, including farmers and beekeepers, is continuing to work hard in these challenging times. The Honey Bee Health Coalition works with this supply chain to implement solutions that benefit both managed and native pollinators. This includes promoting habitat on and around ag lands throughout which honey bees forage and pollinate and the monarch butterfly lives, breeds and migrates.
The monarch butterfly is an iconic species known for its incredible annual migration from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico and back. But over the last two decades, the monarch's once thriving population has declined dramatically, and the monarch is now being reviewed for a potential listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Given you are on this list because you have an interest in bee health, you may also be interested in learning more about how you can help monarch butterflies. The Monarch Collaborative brings together farmers, ranchers, landowners, researchers, agencies, conservationists, and agricultural businesses to address this issue.
As stewards of the land, farmers and landowners have a unique and important role to play given their experience with incorporating voluntary conservation practices into their crop production and livestock operations.
Like honeybees and other pollinators, monarchs need diverse, flowering habitat to thrive; a variety of flowering forbs provide nutrition for adult butterflies. The monarch butterfly relies, in particular, on a type of wildflower called milkweed to lay its eggs and feed its larvae. Much of the monarch's decline can be attributed to milkweed habitat loss, especially in agricultural and rural areas.
The Monarch Collaborative partners with the farming and landowner community to restore, enhance, and plant monarch habitat while maintaining producer flexibility and thriving working lands.
The same nonprofit that facilitates the Honey Bee Health Coalition, the Keystone Policy Center, also facilitates the Monarch Collaborative, and the two groups have worked together on habitat recommendations to the USDA for conservation programs.
The Monarch Collaborative recently launched a website farmers can use to find state-specific resources — such as cost-sharing programs, technical assistance, and seed providers.
Want to be part of the solution? Sign up today for the Monarch Collaborative's emails.