General Mills has removed its bee mascot "Buzz the Bee" from boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios as part of an effort to raise awareness on the declining bee populations.
As part of the #BringBacktheBees campaign, the cereal giant has also partnered with Veseys Seeds to give away 100 million wildflower seeds. Cheerios will send the seeds to anyone who signs up on its website and who pledges to help save the threatened insects.
The #BringBacktheBees movement, according to Cheerios, is meant to "create a bee-friendly habitat" in peoples' backyards.
Bee populations have been declining rapidly in recent years, according to the National Resource Defense Council. Pesticides, disease and a loss of habitat area among the contributing factors leading to the decline, the NRDC’s website says.
In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species, the first wild bee in the continental United States to be federally protected. Populations of rusty patched bumble bees have dropped by 88 percent since the late 1990s. Last year, the Fish and Wildlife Service designated seven species of bees native to Hawaii as endangered.
Cheerios said that in addition to its wildflower seed initiative, its oat farms will have about 3,300 acres of nectar and pollen-rich wildflowers by 2020.