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Catching A Buzz (+Giveaway!!!)

Whole Foods BeesWhole Foods Bees 2Whole Foods Bees 3Whole Foods Bees 4

Some debts you can repay straight away. You borrow $10 from a friend after realizing the venue you’re at only takes cash and return it to them via the ATM machine down the street. Your grandmother loans you a bit to cover some dental work, and you pay it back in monthly installments over a year. Easily repayable debts. Some, though, aren’t as easy to atone for. Some debts of service are incurred without our even realizing it. Such is the case with the debt we owe to pollinators.

From honeybees to butterflies, ladybugs to lace wigs, pollinators, going about the business of feeding themselves, are helping us in immeasurable ways feed ourselves. Were it not for their tireless efforts, many of the food crops we’ve come to rely on for our everyday dietary needs wouldn’t be available without expensive, labor-intensive work on our part. As the images above show, 1 in every 3 bites of food is made possible because of the work of pollinators, especially honeybees utilized in the pollination of commercial crops.

Whole Foods Market has partnered up with one of my most beloved organizations ever, the Xerces Society, to bring attention to the issue. The Xerces Society is a non-profit dedicated to the stewardship and conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. In the images above, you can see what the produce section of one Whole Foods store looks like with and without the help of pollinators. From their website:

At Whole Foods Market in University Heights, Rhode Island, some customers recently found out just how this may affect their lives.To raise awareness of just how crucial pollinators are to our food system, the University Heights Whole Foods Market store removed all produce that comes from plants dependent on honeybees and other pollinators.The before-and-after photos above are shocking – as are the statistics. Whole Foods Market’s produce team pulled from shelves 237 of 453 products – 52 percent of the normal product mix in the department. Among the removed products were some of the most popular produce items:

Summer squash
Green onions
Bok choy
Broccoli rabe
Mustard greens


This link will take you to Whole Foods’ Share the Buzz campaign, full of excellent information on the plight of pollinators. I especially appreciate their nine simple ways to “Bee the Solution”:

1) Go organic. By choosing organic food, you’re supporting farm practices that promote healthy ecosystems and avoid toxic and persistent pesticides.

2) Bee a leader. Encourage your community to plant pollinator-friendly flowers at schools, parks, businesses and golf courses.

3) Host a hive. The backyard beekeeping movement is growing! Look for local communities online and consult books like The Practical Beekeeper for in-depth information (or my own book, Keeping Bees).

4) Bee generous. Help fund a state-of-the-art Bee Research and Discovery Center at the University of Minnesota.

5) Mix it up. Plant bee-friendly flowers with different colors, shapes and bloom times. Visit our Floral Department or Garden Center for high-quality seeds and plants suited to your local climate. Ask for a bee-friendly list!

6) Bee a smart shopper. Several suppliers have donated funds to support honey bee preservation. Look for “Share the Buzz” signs on their products throughout the store.

7) Don’t spray it! Pesticides can impact bees’ learning and foraging skills. If you can, skip the pesticides all together.

8) Bee sweet. Visit our Allegro® coffee bar for a limited edition coffee with 365 Everyday Value® Organic Honey. For every Café con Miel sold, Allegro will donate 25¢ to Whole Kids Foundation® to support bee hive grants for schools. (Note: This campaign ran June 12-25 and has since concluded. It’s SUCH a great endeavor, though, and I’m beyond thrilled that Whole Foods is helping sponsor bee hives in schools).

9) Share the Buzz. Social media can be a powerful tool for busy bees. Share stories, videos and more honey bee action ideas from Whole Foods Market®’s Pinterest and Twitter posts.


Whole Foods Market generously sent me two $25 gift cards to help spread the message about their Share the Buzz campaign, one for myself, and one to giveaway to a small measure reader. To be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment below sharing any actions you’re taking to help pollinators. Whether it’s a garden you’ve planted or tend to, shopping organically, building wild pollinator houses, or keeping a hive of honeybees, I’d love to know about your own buzz-worthy activities.

I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding midnight EST July 4th, 2013. Please leave a means of contacting you in your comment, either by leaving a link back to your own blog or website, or by leaving your email address in your comment. I’d hate for you to be the winner of the $25 gift card and not be able to get it to you!

Whether you win or not, or whether or not you shop at a Whole Foods Market where you live, one fact remains. Pollinators are in trouble, and there’s a great deal we can do towards helping them in their recovery, and help ourselves in the process. Let’s repay that debt, together.

51 Responses to Catching A Buzz (+Giveaway!!!)

  • cynthia thibeau says:

    I garden and plant flowers, buy locally and organically.

  • katie says:

    For now I garden and shop organically. Would love to eventually have a hive!

  • Sarah M says:

    Very cool pictures, that visual is definitely stunning.
    I have watched so many documentaries on bees, and have read so much about their decline in recent years, it’s just so sad. I live in an apartment but am involved in a church that has a large community garden. I water the entire garden almost daily (and the greenhouse) and had mentioned we should put a small hive in there. Unfortunately not everyone shares my desires to help the bees, but it is an organic garden and that is a start! There are many times that I’ve been out watering and seen plenty of bees, so I know they are thriving in our little corner garden plot!
    I had recently told my mom that when I have my (someday) land, I’d like to have a hive and she told me her grandfather was a beekeeper for decades. That made me smile.
    Sarah M

  • amanda (sweetptoatoclaire) says:

    we garden organically and support local and sustainable food systems, as well as having two hives in our backyard~ what an amazing campaign!

  • Melanie J. says:

    Buying organics whenever possible, and container gardening this year. Trying not to obsess about what seems like a lack of pollinators, and wishing I’d planted flowers (tried one batch, but they didn’t take). Just got a gift cert to Reems Creek Nursery, so thinking it’s time to add flowers to the mix. Beekeeping is definitely on the list for when we have our little patch of land. Thanks for the opportunity, Ashley!

  • susan says:

    We garden organically and also participate in buying local from farmers who grow without pesticides. We have had a hive for the last 8 years and continue to support local efforts to raise awareness about our lovely honeybees.

  • Lisa C says:

    What an interesting post! We buy only organic fruits and veggies from Whole Foods and are starting our own organic container garden on or deck. Every little bit helps!

  • Jessie C. says:

    We have a small organic garden and shop organically all year round.

  • Yasmin F. says:

    We buy organic foods whenever possible. My husband and I have also attended an introductory beekeeping course so we can have a backyard hive one day.

  • sharon says:

    I plant bee and pollinator friendly flowers everywhere i can, including the vegetable garden. i’m also teaching my 5 year old son about the importance of pollinators. Would love to keep bees one day…

  • Samantha says:

    We are in the middle of reading Touch a Butterfly so we can plant our very own wildlife garden, we especially want to attract pollinators!
    We also buy organic whenever possible.

  • melissa says:

    mostly for now i make buying organic produce a priority, and i have a tiny container garden out back, but one day i would LOVE to have a hive, when i have a real yard!

  • Spring says:

    This is a timely post since I just read today that there won’t be cherry picking at Sky Top Orchard this year due to “low pollination.” So sad. I suppose the most we manage are steps 1, 5, and 7, which seem small in the grand scheme of things. But we do more of each as time goes on and hope to some day soon reach the point of being stewards to pollinator-friendly land.

  • Jeanne says:

    I have an area in the back full of flowers and different shrubs and also containers full of flowers all on patio and in front yard. Sometimes shop at Whole Foods also.

  • Mike says:

    When we bought our house we got rid of all of the pesticide that the former owner were so “nice” to leave us in the garage. Planted lavender, a improved meyer lemon tree, and rosemary, the bees loved that and our girls will walk around them and aren’t afraid of them. Planted a small garden and started getting a basket of organic fruits & veggies from a farm-share delivery service two years ago.

  • Alicia says:

    We have planted trees, bushes and flowers that are bee friendly plus garden without pesticides. Mtpekeatyahoodotcom

  • Liene says:

    We don’t use any herbicides in our yard and garden, and in addition to growing a small amount of food ourselves we try to purchase organizally grown food. We only buy local honey, and have flirted with the idea of keeping some hives ourselves, but it will have to wait until the children are older. Here’s hoping it isn’t too late… LLucane at yahoo dot com

  • chandra says:

    I don’t have hive, but I didn’t spray the bees living in our yard even though my son really wants me to. We have a nice backyard garden and I explained to him that they have an important job.

  • Katie Frey says:

    This is wonderful information! Thank you for sharing! Our family grows an organic garden every year in our backyard and we do not use pesticides anywhere near our home. Also, about 90% of our grocery bill is organic foods, either from Whole Foods or the local farmer’s market! We hope to raise bees in the future and have been doing lots of research on the matter, we just have to wait until we have a little bit more land. Thank you for sharing this giveaway.
    My email-
    -Katie Frey

  • jessica says:

    Wow, cool project! We have three hives and a large veggie and flower garden with lots of variety. Fruit shrubs and trees as well. Thanks bees!

  • Allison says:

    Love these images, so powerful! We are big lavender growers, the bees buzz around it all day! Trying to do more and more for this incredible cause, and I hope this program brings more awareness, it is indeed the small measures we take that makes the difference. Love your site!

  • Megan W says:

    My organic vegetable farm hosts five honey bee hives. Bzz bzz.

  • tracy says:

    This makes me so sad.

    We are learning about having hives here on our little homestead, and within the next six months we hope to have them : ) Until than we have gardens galore for the bees to enjoy, and on our 3-5 acres I let the weeds GROW! Tall grass, plenty of wildflowers, and the bees love it. Just letting nature do its thing without worrying about a manicured lawn.

  • Meg says:

    That kind of shock value is just what we consumers need sometimes, huh?!? We try to do our part by growing lots of our own food while incorporating wildflowers and native plants. Our yard seems to be a-buzz with our tiny-winged friends but a mason bee house is top on our list of yard amendments for this year. Many thanks from Victoria, BC!

  • Colie says:

    I think this is a smart and arresting campaign, but I’m a little disturbed by the Whole Foods plug. One could compare the plight of small co-ops in our country to the plight of pollinators–with Whole Foods as the seemingly-benign crop sprayer. Co-ops disseminate information and empower the communities in which they exist, keeping the love and grocery dollars circulating locally. Whole Foods siphons funds back to a central corporate headquarters in Texas. As an owner and staff member at a long-standing co-op in Upstate New York, where we’re currently preparing ourselves for the opening of a new Whole Foods store in town in a few months, I think it’s important to differentiate and prioritize our sources of information, shop critically, and place support behind the most fertile and life-supporting parts of our communities.

    • I agree that support of coops is crucial. Locally, I shop at, and am a member of, the French Broad Food Coop. I also patronize Whole Foods and several other area natural foods stores, as each offers things the other does not. Raising awareness about the plight of pollinators, no matter who is directing the effort, is what I’m most concerned about here. Drawing attention to the wonderful work the Xerces Society is doing is laudable, as is generously donating funds to schools nationwide to aid in installing beehives.

  • Sarah R. says:

    I shop mostly organically and try to grow as much of our own food as we can. I’m also trying to plant more pollinator-friendly plants in the yard.

  • Tara says:

    Wow! What a shock to see the impact a declining bee population has on our food supply! We grow a lot of what we eat throughout the summer and have committed this year to organically growing from non-GMO seed. It was a big step for us to grow from seed but it’s working great so far! We’ve also planted a large number of flowers in the yard with the hopes of attracting the pollinators to help with this. We now have a new Whole Foods that recently opened up 20 minutes from us so you can imagine how happy that makes this food-lover. :) Thanks for the chance to win a great gift card! Tara @ Smells Like Home

  • Dawn says:

    What a graphic way to show people the importance of pollinators! I am sharing this link with my beekeeper’s club. I have 3 hives myself, a large garden (in which I purposely allow many things to go to flower so my “girls” can enjoy them), utilize no chemicals on our property, and am working on incorporating more permaculture practices and food forest elements to our wooded property. Bees are so beloved in our family my 2 year old son sleeps with a stuffed bee toy. We did have to get creative and call the real bees “stingers” to teach him the difference between the two as he would pick the real bees up with his fingers! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • oukay says:

    I have birdbaths for water and have planted a variety of native and non-native flowers and flowering trees that the bees seem to enjoy. There are a couple of hives in my neighborhood, so I hope I am helping!

  • oukay says:
  • rachellake says:

    I’ve been developing a few “pollinator pathway” garden areas around my house this spring and early summer, planting pollinator friendly plants and adding water sources & mason bee houses.

  • ted s says:

    My wife and I have a huge garden and we don’t use any chemicals, so it is a mecca for bees. We also are boringly preachy about not using insecticides and herbicides when we are with neighbors (all of whom seem to embrace Weed and Feed and so on).

  • Patricia says:

    I’m so excited to enter this giveaway because I’m just starting to eat more fruits and veggies and less processed. Whole Foods is a bit expensive from me to shop at so this gift card would help me walk through the doors. Being retired its hard to eat healthy while living on a small fixed income, even though I try and try.

  • Patricia says:

    Forgot to give you a way to contact me:

  • Tia Bednar says:

    Hey girl, I can’t wait to get in to my new house so I can buy your bee book and get some hives! We are in the process of getting a new house, so I will be planting all sorts of flowers and bushes along with the hives. I tried to say hello to you at Barb’s last week, but you disappeared when I had a chance. Huxley looked like he was having a good time, and your peach & pesto pie….I don’t even know what to say, it was out of this world!!
    See you soon!

  • Paula says:

    I garden organically. I support our local beekeepers. And I am so proud of my beekeeping young nephew. Kudos to the next generation.

  • Kelly Murphy says:

    We have a very bee-friendly garden and hope to have our own hive in the near future. We also try to buy local, organic produce. Love seeing all the bees buzzing around our yard :)

  • Meg says:

    thank you for sharing this information! – I was not aware of the Whole Kids Foundation – I am a beekeeper and a kinder teacher – I have been applying for grants to get a schoolyard investigation hive – I will have to be more in tune with this next year. I absolutely love sharing these lovely forms of connection and purpose (bees, chickens, gardens, etc;) with my own kids and my students in my role as a parent and teacher.

  • Alaine says:

    I garden and invite my neighbors to it as well!

  • betsy says:

    we planted a garden

  • Carolyn says:

    Stunning–but not surprising. Ever since I read about colony collapse, we’ve been trying to plant more species of bee-friendly flowers and we don’t use pesticides, ever. We don’t do a thing about our dandelions, and when someone asks, I tell them that dandelions are an important early food source for bees. A couple weeks ago our salvias were all in bloom and the bees were all over it. I was weeding next to them and the plants were so full I could not only hear their gentle buzzing but feel it as well. I closed my eyes for a moment and just felt really connected to everything.

  • karel says:

    I’m mildly allergic to bees so i stay far away, but I do keep a garden.

  • k a t says:

    I will be planting pollinator friendly plants in the yard of my new house! :)

  • mandi@herbanhomestead says:

    Wow! I love this! I am super impressed that WF took such a dramatic stand to show the horrifying affects of the loss of pollinators. What we do around here is garden in an earth friendly manner. No chemicals are ever used. Ever. We have water sources available for birds and bees. We plant lots of native flowers to attract our pollinating friends. Soon and very soon we will add hives.

  • Wild Orchid says:

    I have a backyard veggie garden that attracts LOTS of pollinators.
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

  • rachel says:

    We’re going to mix it up and plant lots of flowers!

  • ~JackieVB says:

    I grow my own food(chemical free) and shop at the farmers market for organic produce. What’s left I shop for at Whole Foods. Would love to have a hive and will do so when I get my Farm. I love what they did visually to drive the point home because it is so very important and it takes something like that to drive the point home. Although people who shop at Whole Foods might already be a little more aware of this issue than those who frequent regular grocery stores. I support whatever it takes to get the word out to the masses. Thanks for offering this :)

  • kb says:

    The before and after shots are astounding! What a great and informative project this is.

  • Tracey says:

    I plant almost everything we eat and love watching the wild honey bees [there is a wild hive on the back of our property] at work.
    I just gave my husband your book on bee’s for Father’s day and he is getting his on hive for his birthday. I am so excited.

  • Sean says:

    I think that is soo awesome for Whole Foods to clear out their produce section, even if only for an hour. I currently have two hives, but would like to increase the number to 5. I also grow a lot of different crops and never use pesticides, fungicides, etc.