Potatoes and honeybees aren’t a typical pairing, but during Jan. 12 to 14 in Las Vegas, attendees at the annual Potato Expo are learning how the two will go hand-in-hand in 2016. The National Potato Council in the U.S. is joining Bayer’s Feed a Bee initiative as an official partner committing to enlist America’s potato farmers to help feed bees.
Bayer launched Feed a Bee in March of 2015 to address the problem of lack of food and nutrition for bees. According to a Bayer media release, more than 70 organizations and more than 250,000 consumers have joined Feed a Bee since then to plant thousands of acres and more than 65 million flowers to help increase bee forage throughout the United States.
NPC, a trade association dedicated to promoting the U.S. potato industry, is one of the first organizations to sign on as a partner in 2016, helping to kick-off the second year of the Feed a Bee program. The Bayer release notes that though potato plants are not pollinated by bees, the land they are planted on can provide a great location for pollinator habitats. Through this partnership, it’s hoped NPC members across the nation will convert acres of farmland into pollinator havens.
“Honey bees are an important part of the agriculture industry, and one of the ways we can help is by planting more bee-attractant plants to increase pollinators‘ habitat and access to diverse food sources,” said John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of NPC, in the release. “The National Potato Council is excited to join Feed a Bee’s effort to help pollinators and to educate our members and their communities about how we can all play a role in helping them thrive.”
The release states that studies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other groups show honeybee colonies are at their highest levels in a decade, but bees continue to face a variety of stressors, from lack of habitat to disease to weather and infestations of the devastating Varroa mite. It adds most bee health experts agree planting more diverse forage is one of the best ways to help bees and other pollinators.
“With a growing world population, we rely on bees now more than ever to help provide the fruits, nuts and vegetables we need,” said Dr. Becky Langer, manager of the North American Bee Care Program, in the release. “We launched Feed a Bee last year to bring together individuals and partners from all sectors to help increase forage for agriculture’s hardest-working insects and to educate a broader audience about their importance. We’re eager to continue these efforts in 2016 with the help of partners like the National Potato Council.”
Each year, nearly 2,000 growers, shippers, retailers and stakeholders across the potato industry supply chain convene for NPC’s Potato Expo. Attendees can learn more about Feed a Bee and its partnership with NPC by visiting the Bayer Bee Care booth #230 at this year’s show.