Fostering Pollination in Cedar Rapids

Posted on 04/07/2017

Considering we’re one of the world’s largest consumers of beeswax (think 250,000 gallons each month), we’re excited about a current initiative happening in our own backyard. It’s called the 1,000 Acre Pollinator Initiative, and it’s all about converting urban prairie into pollinator zones to help restore lost habitats of pollinators like bees and butterflies. These urban prairie zones will include parks, golf courses, land along trails, and other similar sites in the area, with the 1,000 acres being transformed over a period of five years. Partners of the effort include Linn County Conservation, the city of Marion, and the Monarch Research Project.

Being in the lip balm business is a given for the continued need for bees — but did you know that one third of the food we eat comes from the work of pollinators? Much of Iowa’s original prairie landscape has been repurposed for other needs like farming and pavement, and other restored prairie has been subject to pesticides. This means the need is great for restored prairie done right. After all, the rusty patched bumble bee was added to the nation’s endangered species list in March, and the monarch butterfly population across North America has decreased by more than 90% since the 1990s.

Fortunately, the 37 species of wildflowers and seven kinds of grasses to be planted in the designated zones will hopefully start to change this. The process began last year when Cedar Rapids began clearing these spaces and using targeted herbicides, and in the weeks to come, the first round of seeding will begin (about nine pounds per acre). A second round will take place in the fall, with a goal of converting 340 acres this year. 

We’re excited about this initiative because it so closely ties to what we do and the value we place on fostering the environment. We maintain a small wildflower area near our front parking lot, and last summer we planted milkweed for monarchs, which you can read more about in our previous blog post. We definitely support this pollination movement — we need those bees!