Buzz the bee has disappeared from many cereal boxes across North America. The peppy mascot’s conspicuous absence is part of a campaign to raise awareness about the plight of real honeybees. To further spread the word, General Mills is giving away 100 million wildflower seeds.
Bees of all stripes are currently in big trouble. Increased pesticide use, widespread parasites, and the development of formerly wild spaces have all taken big bites out of bee populations. This is bad news, even for people who don’t care about bugs— honeybees are responsible for pollinating 70 out of the 100 biggest human food crops.
The folks at General Mills have been trading on Buzz’s image for decades and figured it was time to give a little something back. “We have a bee as our mascot and honey in our product, so we thought somebody should be championing this cause, and we thought that we could be a great champion,” General Mills Canada marketing director Emma Eriksson told the CBC when the campaign began last year.
The company has pledged to create more bee habitat in its own supply areas, incorporating wildflowers into 3300 acres of its oat farms by 2020.
It’s also making it easy for cereal lovers to do the same at home. Sign up on the Cheerios website to get a packet of 500 free wildflower seeds to plant in your community. The seeds are going fast, with 72 million claimed by press time.
The wildflower seeds are not region-specific, a representative from General Mills told mental_floss, so we suggest that you check your seed packet to ensure the species inside are local to your area.