Bayer CropScience is launching Feed a Bee, a major initiative to increase forage for honey bees and other pollinators, including growing 50 million flowers and providing additional forage acreage in 2015.

By collaborating with organizations and individuals throughout the United States, Feed a Bee will help to provide pollinators with the food they need not only to survive, but to thrive.

This is particularly important as the world population is expected to grow to over 9 billion people requiring 70 percent more food by 2050.

As the world's most heavily traveled livestock, bees are transported to pollinate crops where resources are challenged to sustain large bee populations. Bees are working harder and need more food and more food diversity.

"Reduced bee habitat has decreased food options for bees at a time when agriculture and apiculture must work together to feed more people than ever," said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP North America. "The Feed a Bee initiative provides opportunities for everyone to be a part of creating more forage for these amazing creatures."

The Feed a Bee initiative will work with people across the country to grow 50 million flowers and to increase bee forage areas. People can join this initiative by visiting www.FeedABee.com and requesting a free packet of wildflower seeds to plant on their own or by asking the Feed a Bee initiative to plant on their behalf.

Each campaign packet contains about 200 seeds. As a result, for either seed packet planting action, a supporter will help provide honey bees with 200 additional flowers for forage.

Visitors to the site can also commit to growing their own bee-attractant plants. The site features a ticker so supporters can view campaign progress and a collection of shareable facts about bee health and gardening tips.

Feed a Bee will tap into the power of collaborations by working with at least 50 government and nonprofit organizations and businesses to plant thousands of acres of flower-producing crops grown between regular crop production periods for bees. Several of these relationships have already kicked off.

The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will work with Bayer CropScience to create bee-attractant habitats along highway rights-of-ways.

Project Apis m., a non-profit dedicated to better bee health through its work with growers, will work with Bayer CropScience to establish up to 3,000 acres of bee forage in California and Washington.

Other key collaborations include:

National Wildlife Turkey Federation - Supporting pollinator conservation efforts, including co-labeling of native seed mixes.

McCarty Family Farm - Working with this Kansas dairy operation, in conjunction with Project Apis m. and Pheasants Forever, to plant pollinator-attractant cover crops.

Conservation Technology Information Center - Establishing pollinator habitat in the Midwest/Great Plains.

• Seeds for Bees: Fresno Fence Row Project - Partnering with Project Apis m. to evaluate seed mixes to plant in almond orchards.

• Golf courses - Partnering with select golf courses to create and promote pollinator habitats.

"By working with Feed a Bee, we are supplying pollinators with access to crucial pollen and nectar sources that they need to live and pollinate crops," said Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m. and liaison to the Almond Board of California's Bee Task Force. "Bees are critical to our nutrition and diet, and this is a chance to strengthen both bee colonies and our agricultural prospects."

The Feed a Bee campaign is supported by the Bayer Bee Care Program's bee research. Feed a Bee collaborations will use this research to guide plantings of the best bee-attractant habitats. The research will also be used to provide individuals with tips on planting bee forage.

Continuing its more than 25 years of supporting bee health, Feed a Bee is one of several programs sponsored by Bayer's Bee Care Program.

Bayer has also:

•Opened a North American Bee Care Center last year in Research Triangle Park, N.C., as a focal point for education, research and collaboration to improve honey bee health;

•Welcomed almost 2,300 visitors to the Center since it opened in April 2014;

•Conducted two mobile bee care tours that reached 4,750 people and traveled more than 8,300 miles to promote bee health; and

•Created an annual award to recognize beekeepers who have used beekeeping to improve their local communities.

For more information on Bayer's bee health initiatives, please visit www.beehealth.bayer.us.