WENATCHEE, WASH. – Stemilt’s company-owned and -managed orchards have earned Bee Friendly Farming certification through the Pollinator Partnership.  

“Led by general manager Robin Graham, our team set out a couple of years ago to identify sustainable farming methods that would also work to protect the bees from colony collapse disorder and other factors harming bee populations,” said West Mathison, Stemilt president. “The Stemilt team recognized this issue and knew that bees are an essential part of growing World-Famous fruit, so they took action. 

Graham and his team were then connected to Pollinator Partnership Pollinator Partnership which was created to help ensure the future of both pollinators and sustainable agriculture as it expands across North America and around the globe. 

“It was clear to the team that the BFF’s program was robust and based on solid science and the requirements to receive a certification were in line with biodiversity strategies we believe in,” said Mathison. “Certification meant an opportunity to expand bee habitats across our farming operation and join countless others in the fight to save the bees.” 

Graham and his team began implementing BFF requirements across five ranches. While Stemilt already had some requirements met, like practicing Integrated Pest Management, offering clean water resources, and providing some different types of flowers, the Stemilt team still had some work to do.  

The criteria that required the most of the Stemilt team’s time was identifying, creating and laying a seed mixture designed to provide natural nutrition, pollen and flowers to the bees. The group was able to finalize it and lay the seed down in early April. Later this spring, once the seeds germinate and flowers begin to bloom, there will be hundreds of acres of pollinator habitats and wildflowers along with nesting sites for the bees to reside in.  

Once bloom occurs and habitats are established, the Stemilt team will measure the success of the program by counting bees per square foot to gage the program’s progress.   

“We know bees are a critical factor in farming and without them, it would be tough to grow World Famous fruit,” said Mathison. “We are excited to get this program off the ground so we can continue fulfilling our mission of cultivating people (and bees in this case) and delighting consumers through excellence.”