Bees and other pollinators are integral to a sustainable ecosystem, and they need all the help they can get: one recent study from Bee Informed showed that over the course of a year (April 1, 2021-April 1 2022), beekeepers in the United States lost an estimated 39% of their managed honey bee colonies. Since bee populations have been declining globally due to habitat loss and intensive farming practices, it’s critically important to support them with measurable efforts. Here at Merge Impact, we support the vital work of The Xerces Society, an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world by conserving invertebrates and their habitats. We’ve also developed our biodiversity project that benefits pollinators: Biodiversity & Ecosystems Evaluation (BEE). This program provides streamlined ways for regenerative and organic farms to measure biodiversity metrics, such as species and habitat density. The ultimate goal of this program is to connect food brands and supply chain managers with these farmers, who can provide them with easily verifiable biodiversity impact metrics. Merge Impact is passionate about promoting biodiversity and ensuring that pollinators are privileged as part of a healthy ecosystem.
How Pollinators Support a Sustainable Ecosystem
To understand the passion behind the BEE program, Merge Impact co-founder Beth Robertson-Martin provides this background:
“Back in 2014, I stood on a dusty road in California, sandwiched between two wildly different fields. One was as lifeless as a dystopian desert, while the other was teeming with life, thanks to General Mills’ pollinator-friendly hedgerow,” explains Beth. “I was working with farmers to source organic ingredients for GMI’s brands at the time, and that stark contrast hit me hard. I grew up on a farm and as a kid I was terrified of bees! But their declining numbers had become a big concern for me since joining General Mills. Through some amazing partnerships with the NRCS and the Xerces Society, General Mills invested over $6 million to create and restore pollinator habitats on over 100,000 acres of its suppliers’ farms. We became the biggest contributor to pollinator health in the U.S.!”
Fast forward to now, and I’m thrilled to be part of an even bigger project: Merge Impact’s BEE (Biodiversity & Ecosystems Evaluation) protocol. As a co-founder and vice president of partnership development at Merge Impact, I’m all in on BEE,” continues Beth. “It measures, tracks, verifies, and even puts a price tag on field-level biodiversity. This cutting-edge tool lets farmers ramp up their biodiversity stats, creating a food system that’s more regenerative, ethical, and transparent. Plus, the BEE protocol lets farmers and food brands enhance their climate-positive status while giving consumers the information they need to make the best food choices.”
Beth gave us four she loves when asked about her favorite pollinator-friendly companies. Be sure to check them out to support a sustainable ecosystem and a pollinator-positive future!
Silk has planted more than 25 linear miles of drought-resistant, flowering, native California hedgerow plants on the orchards owned by the family that supplies its almond butter. In addition to supporting bees, these flowering, living fences also support a huge range of songbirds, butterflies, raptors, and other wildlife.
Muir Glen has partnered with the Xerces Society to plant pollinator habitats on the California farms that grow our tomatoes.
Cascadian Farm worked with the Xerces Society to plant thousands of acres of pollinator habitat at the brand’s supplier farms.
Rainier Fruit Co designated pollinator habitat at every one of its orchards, teaming up with Bee Better to certify 150 acres of pollinator habitat.
Go to www.mergeimpact.com to learn more about how Merge Impact’s measurement and data solutions contribute to a climate-positive food future.