Wildflower Seed Sales as Incentive for Adopting Flower Strips for Native Bee Conservation: A Cost-Benefit Analysis


Improving pollinator habitat on farmlands is needed to further wild bee conservation and to sustain crop pollination in light of relationships between global declines in pollinators and reductions in floral resources. One management strategy gaining much attention is the use of wildflower strips planted alongside crops to provide supplemental floral resources for pollinators. However, farmer adoption of pollinator-friendly strategies has been minimal, likely due to uncertainty about costs and benefits of providing non-crop flowering plants for bees. Over 3 yr, on four diversified farms in Montana, United States, we estimated the potential economic profit of harvesting and selling wildflower seeds collected from flower strips implemented for wild bee conservation, as an incentive for farmers to adopt this management practice. We compared the potential profitability of selling small retail seed packets versus bulk wholesale seed. Our economic analyses indicated that potential revenue from retail seed sales exceeded the costs associated with establishing and maintaining wildflower strips after the second growing season. A wholesale approach, in contrast, resulted in considerable net economic losses. We provide proof-of-concept that, under retail scenarios, the sale of native wildflower seeds may provide an alternative economic benefit that, to our knowledge, remains unexplored. The retail seed-sales approach could encourage greater farmer adoption of wildflower strips as a pollinator-conservation strategy in agroecosystems. The approach could also fill a need for regionally produced, native wildflower seed for habitat restoration and landscaping aimed at conserving native plants and pollinators.




Casey M Delphia, Kevin M O’Neill, Laura A Burkle, Wildflower Seed Sales as Incentive for Adopting Flower Strips for Native Bee Conservation: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 112, Issue 6, December 2019, Pages 2534–2544. doi:10.1093/jee/toz191.
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