Cheerios Tries to Save Endangered Bumblebees, Causes Concern and Backlash

American honeybees are dying at an alarming rate, and Cheerios is trying to help.

The cereal brand, who’s mascot is Buzz the bee, has launched a #BringBacktheBees campaign as a way to save the over 700 species of bees that are headed towards extinction. Users simply had to log onto Cheerios’s website, put in their address, and then they would receive a packet of wildflower seed to plant. The idea behind this was simple; the more flowers out there that need pollinating, the more the bees would thrive.

However, reports from the Center for Biological Diversity estimate that over 700 bee species are declining due to habitat loss and increased pesticide use.

This threat of extinction is something that needs to be taken seriously as bees are essential parts of our ecosystem and play a crucial role in the pollination of crops and foods. In fact, their role of pollinators helps to sustain agricultural production in the United States, a value that reaches upwards of billions of dollars annually.

If we lose bees, Americans would be without plenty of crops including apples, plums, peaches, pears, strawberries, onions, cashews, avocados, green beans, coffee, lemons, and carrots just to name a few.

So Cheerios is trying to help and save their beloved mascot Buzz. They donated 1.5 billion wildflower seeds all across the U.S., crushing their goal of 100 million. Problem is, these seed packets were not adjusted for different environments around the United States and included invasive flower species that are banned from specific areas.

For example, the packets included forget-me-nots, which are banned as noxious species in both Connecticut and Massachusetts, along with the Californian poppy, considered an invasive exotic pest in areas of the southeast.

When good samaritan gardeners noticed this folly, they immediately went to social media to complain that Cheerios could have caused an ecological crisis. As a response, Cheerios made a public statement defending themselves, explaining,

“The seed varieties in the mix are not considered invasive. [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.”

Even still, the distribution of the Bee Friendlier Mix is not Cheerio’s only plan to save these precious bumblebees. General Mills has announced that Honey Nut Cheerios plans to plant more than 3,000 acres of bee habitat on oat farms by the year 2020.

And while a full 65% of Americans reported feeling special when receiving flowers, perhaps flowers grown with the specific purpose of saving our fuzzy yellow friends will mean that much more.

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