Skip to main content

Seeds for Bees Program Helps Growers Unlock the Benefits of Cover Crops


Project Apis m.’s Seeds for Bees program is open and accepting application now through August. With support from several agricultural groups, including the Almond Board of California, the program is back again to help growers experience cover crop benefits in their orchard by providing them with free cover crop seed, nurturing a landscape that fosters both agricultural productivity and environmental stewardship. 

The Seeds for Bees program offers free seed support through Project Apis m. First-year participants are eligible for up to $2,500 worth of free seeds, while second-year participants can receive up to $1,500. Returning applicants can continue to benefit from discounted seed purchases through the program, ensuring ongoing support for seasoned growers. 

One of the program's key strengths lies in its diverse seed offerings, tailored to meet the unique needs of various crops and farming practices. From popular mixes like the Pollinator Brassica, which blooms early to support almond cultivation, to specialized blends such as the Nitro Builder, designed to enhance nitrogen fixation, the program caters to a wide range of agricultural requirements. 

The benefits of cover crops extend far beyond their role in supporting pollinators. Improved water infiltration, often likened to a sponge, is one of the immediate advantages noted by growers. "Your soil is a lot like a sponge,” said Stetcyn Maldonado, manager of the Seeds for Bees program. “If you have a sponge that's really open, you got all your pores in there and you can hold a lot more water and air than a sponge that's squished. A cover crop really helps with getting your rainfall into your soil as quick as possible." 

Addressing concerns about competition, Stetcyn reassures growers that cover crops, especially those offered through the Seeds for Bees program that are winter cover crops, are allies in weed suppression rather than adversaries to perennial crops. By occupying space and utilizing resources, cover crops naturally outcompete weeds, offering a sustainable solution to weed management and then are terminated before almond trees start growing again. 

With the application period open from April 1 to August 31, growers are encouraged to seize the opportunity and secure their spot in the program. “We've had a ton of applications already and the program is always increasing popularity,” Maldonado noted. "Seed is limited, so you want to make sure that your spot is secured,” The goal is to ensure timely delivery of seeds to growers' doors, well before the optimal planting window from early to mid-October. 

Visit the Seeds for Bees website to learn more about the program and to apply for seeds. Additionally, upcoming videos featuring grower testimonies will offer insights into real-life experiences with cover crops and the Seeds for Bees program, providing a firsthand glimpse into its impact on agricultural practices.