FS member companies in Iowa are taking on bees, quite literally, by planting pollinator habitats at their retail locations. This five-year effort is part of a sustainability project to build pollinator populations, in particular honeybees.  

Pollination by honeybees alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops in the United States each year, and pollination by other species can contribute up to another $9 billion. 

“We planted a habitat this spring because we recognize that pollinators contribute significantly to the sustainability of food production systems, the health of the environment and the economic vitality of agriculture,” said Troy Koehler, general manager of New Century FS. “We want others in the communities where we operate to take notice and plant their own pollinator habitats.” 

Any size plot can attract and support honeybees — from a wildflower meadow to a window box — with a few well-chosen species. A combination of annual and perennial flowers has provided nectar and pollen forage all season long. Up to 19 different flowers recommended by honeybee keepers are found at the habitats, including purple coneflower, China aster, basil, corn poppy and Cape forget-me-not, among others. These same flowers are often found in suburban garden beds, borders and other maintained areas to provide a long-lasting season of color. 

Additional pollinators native to the Midwest also benefit from the plots, including hummingbird moths and bees such as bumble, mason, polyester, squash, digger and others. In 2020, FS member companies partnered with over 250 local 4-H clubs and FFA chapters on pollinator plantings. 

New Century’s pollinator habitat is one component of the GROWMARK System’s Endure Sustainability Initiative. For more information about pollinator habitat or the Enduring Farm Program, contact your local FS company or crop specialist to become a part of the “buzz for bees.” 

Hansen is FS Strategic Agronomy Marketing Manager.