If you have ever flown anywhere in America, chances are you have looked down at some point to see fields as far as the eye can see. In other places, you may have seen a concrete jungle with rare patches of green stretching equally vast distances.
While these very different scenes are common wherever you go, they present a problem for bees. Huge monocultures of corn and wheat for example, do not produce flowers that bees consume, and are often sprayed with both pesticides that harm bees, and herbicides that kill the weeds they depend on.
In the city, bees may have to travel long distances to find flowers. Carefully manicured lawns are usually kept too short for even the lowest growing flower, and parks are few and far between. Luckily, Christopher Samai is working to help bring back bee populations with his unique company, Seedles.
A garden in your pocket
Seedles are colorful little balls packed with wildflower seeds and weighted so that they can be thrown over fences and into hard-to-reach areas. The idea is to make transforming your empty pasture or the corner of a community garden easy. With a few seedless, any empty space you have permission to grow in can become a habitat for native bees.
Although they can be tossed on the ground or into the bushes, it is still best to plant them when ever possible. Plating is better because when thrown they have the same odds as they would in nature. (Plants make a lot of seeds every year for a reason.) Still, these colorful seed bombs make gardening easy, and can help you easily start a wildflower garden for hungry bees.
They can also help you attract native bees to your vegetable garden or fruit trees, increasing productivity. Although the much-loved honey bee does a wonderful job of collecting nectar and is a very diligent worker, its less useful as a pollinator.
Honey bees tuck nectar into little baskets on their legs, and strip all the nectar from each flower as they go—transferring very little nectar in the process. Other bee species that don’t make honey, such as the seldom stinging Mason bee, belly flop onto the flower instead, collecting nectar on their abdomen. This messy process does a fantastic job of pollinating plants, with noticeable improvement in yields.
A talk with Christopher Samai
We spoke with Christopher Samai by phone recently and were able to ask a few questions important to our readers. A top question asked was about the company itself. Readers asked if Seedles would be expanding. Seedles sell quickly, and frequently go out-of-stock for popular wildflower groups.
The good news is some of the problems related to production are clearing up. Last year Covid-19 caused lock downs during spring planting time and disrupted the business in a big way. Sales were down 70%, probably because gardening was the last thing on people’s minds at that time.
Other problems they faced including problems with shipping, and general logistics. Fortunately, while they are still not back to 2018 levels, their business has recovered.
As for whether they can increase production, this is a tricky question. Every seedle you receive was touched by a human hand at one point or other in their creation. While there are machines to aid in the process, they are not mass manufactured. Even with machines to do the bulk of the work, there’s only so much one person can do.
They expect to have expanded inventory by 2022, and are ramping up production right now.
Plastic free production
Another exciting change readers talked about was their switch from bio-plastics to paper bags. (This is actually how Rinexii found out about the Seedles company.)
This switch may continue to evolve as time goes on, because only time will tell how paper bags hold up in shipping, and whether customers who aren’t concerned about plastic bags react to the appearance of the packaging.
This big change really shows how committed Chris and his wife are in making a positive change in every respect, including the packaging left behind from helping bees. While the packaging itself is currently 100% kraft paper, this is changing to cardboard boxes soon due to the poor shipping results of the kraft paper bags.
The joy of helping bees
Chris envisions a future where seedless with wildflowers native to that individual habitat are available in vending machines outside of wildlife parks and expanding habitat for pollinators is as easy as tossing rainbow balls where ever you go.
Native wildflowers would help avoid people trying to help accidentally introducing invasive species, while also allowing them to help encourage new bee habitats to form. While this future is still a long time away, the world is already a better place for these magical seed bombs.
Seedles has planted 4 to 5 billion wildflowers around the world so far, and that number keeps on growing.
“It’s a beautiful act to plant a seed,” Christopher Samai said in our interview. “Just plant wildflowers. Any kind.”
When you do, you’re helping all species, from the popular bumble bee to the often less noticed and less supported native bees. With your help, a neglected field can become a wildlife habitat, or an empty garden bed, a beautiful riot of colors. As long as we keep planting, we can help give our bees the food they need in order to thrive.