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General Mills’ Bee-Boosting Battle Badly Backfires

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It seems things aren’t going so well for General Mills and their campaign to #BringBackTheBees.

It was announced last week that the breakfast food giant would be removing the Honey Nut Cheerios mascot, Buzz the Bee, from boxes in order to raise awareness of the declining global bee population. In addition to the change in packaging, General Mills partnered with Veseys Seeds to send out packets of wildflower seeds in an effort to help reconstitute the bee population.

As of this past Friday the partnership had sent out 1.5 billion packets (you read that right), which was more than ten times the original goal (and which completely depleted their supply of seeds). While that may seem promising news, things aren’t buzzing along as planned. It would seem that the wildflower seeds, containing a mix of forget-me-nots, lavender, daises, poppies, hyssop, and other flowers, can be dangerous for certain ecosystems (not to mention the fact that many of these flowers aren’t indigenous in various parts of the country).

For example, Massachussetts and Connecticut have a (weird) ban on forget-me-nots, and poppies are considered an “invasive exotic pest” in parts of the southeast U.S. As any ecologist would tell you, trying to root flowers (or any plant) in an area where it will not thrive can deplete natural resources vital to other, sustainable foliage, as well as create the possibility of spreading disease.

The company jumped on social media this past weekend in an attempt to squash some of the backlash.

The seed varieties in the mix are not considered invasive.

FYI—The flower varieties within the Bee Friendlier Mix were selected for their flowers which produce nectar and pollen that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. The mixture contains annuals, biennials, and perennials that produce flowers throughout the entire growing season (early, mid, and late) in a wide range of colors.

This would be all good and fine, but it also doesn’t appear to be very true, given the “invasive exotic pest” status given to forget-me-nots in the southeast. In addition to that, bee experts are quick to point out the irresponsible use of the general “bees” in General Mills’ statements, saying that what is generally good for honeybees isn’t necessarily good for native honeybees.

[image via screengrab]


Adam: Twitter.

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