A new certification program called Bee Better Certified is designed to assist growers in the planning and implementation of conservation practices to benefit bees and other pollinators.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has been working with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to develop the first-of-its-kind program. The Xerces Society partnered with Oregon Tilth through a grant from USDA to launch the program. After a series of trials with 13 farmers, the program is now opening to farmers nationwide.
Part of the certification includes dedicating a minimum of 5% of a grower’s land to habitat. This can be a combination of permanent features such as hedgerows and temporary resources like flowering cover crops.
Requirements also include providing nesting sites such as plants with pity-stems for cavity-nesting bees, undisturbed ground to provide cover for soil-nesting bees, and planting butterfly host plants.
Incorporating comprehensive pest management strategies that include non-chemical practices as the first line of defense, limiting or eliminating the use of high-risk pesticides, and targeting pesticide use.
Oregon Tilth assess farms based on standards developed by the Xerces Society. Certified farmers are granted permission to use the Bee Better seal on their produce. Manufacturers can also use the seal on products that contain Bee Better Certified ingredients.