Catching Up with Feed a Bee Partner McCarty Family Farms

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
By: Dr. Becky Langer-Curry, Bayer North American Bee Care Program, Project Manager
Feed a Bee Partner Blog Series - McCarty Family Farms

McCarty Family Farms, a dairy farm based out of Kansas, was one of the first partners to sign up when we launched the Feed a Bee initiative in March. This past spring, they planted more than 60 acres of wildflowers to turn their land into a pollinator haven. We caught up with Ken McCarty to learn more about how the planting went, why they decided to become involved with the initiative and their plans for the future.

1. How did you first hear about the Feed a Bee initiative?

I first learned about the Feed a Bee initiative while doing some online research on species in need of conservation and ways of increasing and improving biodiversity on our farms.

2. What encouraged you to get involved as a partner?

We were challenged by our customer, Dannon, to find ways in which we could improve the biodiversity of our farms and increase our overall level of sustainability. From a personal standpoint, my family and I, as well as the families of the people I work with every day - and so many others - depend on agriculture for our livelihood. Bee health and pollinator health have a huge impact on that, so we felt that we should try to do something to help.

3. The last time we checked in with you, you were just getting started planting your pollinator habitat. How did the planting go?

The planting went very well and was handled by my dad, Tom McCarty.  Our area has been quite dry since we planted our wildflowers so we have not seen a large amount of growth yet, but we are very excited to see what the spring will have to offer! 

4. Have you noticed more pollinators hanging around?

Since we have limited growth right now, we have not seen an increase in pollinators, but we do know that the monarch butterfly migration is underway, as we are seeing lots and lots of monarchs floating around. This was another species that we very much wanted to help, so we made sure that our Feed a Bee plot also contained milkweed for the monarchs as well. Our goal was to make our Feed a Bee plot impactful and beneficial to as many pollinator species as possible while also providing wildlife habitat, especially for pheasants, since pheasant hunting is an important piece of our local economies.

5. Do you have plans to expand your forage area?

Yes we do.  Our goal is to add Feed a Bee plots, of varying sizes, to all of our farms.  We currently have 10 acres of pollinator habitat and hope to increase that to approximately 50 acres within three years. 

6. Why is it important for growers to have forage areas on their land?

I believe that it is important for those of us who depend on the land for our livelihoods to give back to the land when possible.  As stewards of the land, of our communities, of our companies and our coworkers, we have a responsibility to care for the stakeholders that make our livelihoods possible. Bees and pollinators are definitely a big stakeholder in agriculture, in spite of their tiny size.


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