Mount Auburn Cemetery Joins Bayer Feed a Bee Program

July 27, 2017

$500,000 Grant Initiative to Plant Forage in All 50 States

Tucked away in the southwest corner of Mount Auburn is the Cemetery’s apiary, which houses six beehives. These hives are homes to honeybees which pollinate the thousands of trees, shrubs, and perennials on our grounds, and serve as tools to educate visitors about the benefits of bees and beekeeping. Currently, the 2.5-acres surrounding the apiary has no planting except for grass. A Feed a Bee Grant is allowing us to establish a rich new habitat with abundant flowering plants that will provide a food source to sustain the native and managed bees who pollinate our plants. This in turn produces better quality fruits which we use to propagate more plants from seed in our nearby greenhouse. The habitat will also provide food for other wildlife such as migrating birds and monarch butterflies.

Mount Auburn Cemetery is a 175-acre greenspace located within in a populated urban environment, and is recognized as an important site for local wildlife. The project site where the apiary is located is currently an expanse of lawn which requires frequent mowing and supports very little diversity of insects. Creating a foraging area will provide our honeybees with a season-long food source that will help them build food reserves for winter. On a broader level, we hope that by decreasing the grass footprint and increasing the wildflower meadow space, we can provide overwintering sites for many native bees and pollinators whose habitat is shrinking as the community grows. Another benefit is that allowing the meadow to grow naturally will reduce our carbon footprint from weekly mowing to just once in the spring.

The plant species for the meadow include twelve different types of wildflowers, chosen carefully for their habitat benefits, hardiness for both winter and summer conditions, and compatibility with other species in a diverse yet sustainable plant community. In addition to these plants, Mount Auburn Cemetery is growing several hundred seedlings such as Liatris spicata, Amsonia hubrichtii, and Gallardia grandiflora to enrich the plantings that will be incorporated into the garden. The perennials will be planted between July – September 2017.

As one of the initial recipients of grants awarded during the first selection cycle of this two-year initiative, The Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery has received $5,000 to fund our planting project. Together with the 57 additional projects recently honored, this grant will help provide a tangible, sustainable solution to the current lack of forage for bees and other pollinators. In the first round of selection, 58 projects with demonstrable local impact have been funded in 31 states across the country, as well as Washington, D.C.!

“We are astounded by the terrific response we’ve received thus far from like-minded organizations, desiring to join us in our efforts to support local pollinator populations,” said Becky Langer, project manager for the Bayer North American Bee Care Program. “This 50-state planting initiative will help further the reach of our Feed a Bee program by extending support to exceptional groups nationwide that are working to provide forage for pollinators through innovative and purposeful solutions.”

Other projects include planting additional native forage, integrated vegetation management (IVM) initiatives, habitat restoration programs, and other forms of establishing forage that benefit pollinators. Bayer has committed to fund projects in all 50 U.S. states by the end of 2018, and with the first cycle of funding complete, more than half of those states have already been represented by organizations receiving grants. The organizations selected include community groups, universities, parks, wildlife refuges, and more.

Applications for these forage project grants are being accepted on a rolling basis. Organizations may still apply, even if projects have already been funded in their states. Those interested in joining the Bayer Feed a Bee program, and the quest to provide ample forage for pollinators, can follow along on the progress or submit their own project for consideration via the request for proposals at FeedABee.com/Impact.

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