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Cheerios May Have Made a Big Mistake When It Tried to Save the Bees

Their effort to help may actually be harmful to ecosystems
Did Cheerios Make a Big Bee Mistake? | Tasting Table
Photo: Michael Himbeault via Flickr

Early this month, BuzzBee, Honey Nut Cheerios' longtime mascot, disappeared from boxes on supermarket shelves around the country as part of the #BringBacktheBees campaign. The company distributed 1.5 billion wildflower seeds to concerned customers across the country—enough for 200 million flowers to blossom.

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Unfortunately, the well-intentioned campaign has a major glitch, Lifehacker reports. Those seeds—forget-me-nots, wallflowers, poppies, cornflowers, daisies and several others—weren't selected and distributed for each region of the U.S. Meaning lots of seeds could be planted in regions where they aren't native and, in some cases, are even deemed as invasive species and harmful to the local ecosystems.

Ecologist Kathryn Turner explains, "Invasive species can outcompete the natives they encounter, they can take up all the space and use up all the resources, they can spread disease . . ." That's particularly true here for the forget-me-nots and poppies, which are banned in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and California poppies, which in the Southeast are designated "invasive exotic pest plants."

Cheerios, meanwhile, has been on the defensive since word broke about the seed mistake, and has been fielding questions and complaints from fans on Facebook. In response to one poster, the team says:

The seed varieties in the mix are not considered invasive. . . . The flower varieties within the Bee Friendlier Mix were selected for their flowers which produce nectar and pollen that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. The mixture contains annuals, biennials, and perennials that produce flowers throughout the entire growing season (early, mid, and late) in a wide range of colors.

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