Donation creates fund to protect and study vital pollinators

University of Vermont bee researchers are buzzing after an anonymous $500,000 gift to support threatened pollinators.

The gift creates the Apis Fund, which will catalyze projects supporting vital bee pollinators. Bees are essential for the world’s food supply – including Vermont agriculture – but are experiencing steep declines from climate change, disease, pesticides, and habitat loss.

The gift was made to UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment, which has led internationally recognized research on bees and other pollinators, including: the first map of U.S. bee declineshow bees improve crop yields, the effects of climate change on bees, projected losses in coffee-growing regions, and the extinction of four Vermont bumblebee species

“This gift acknowledges UVM and the Gund Institute’s leadership in addressing global bee declines,” says Taylor Ricketts, Director of the Gund Institute and world-renowned pollination researcher. “The Apis Fund will establish an enduring home for UVM and community efforts to ensure these important species continue to thrive.”

The Apis Fund, named after the scientific name for honeybees, will offer grants for local, national, and international projects by non-profit entities, including educational institutions (UVM included), conservation groups and other entities. Projects can address wild or managed species. 

The fund will announce its first call-for-proposals from scholars and external groups in Fall/Winter 2019, and award its inaugural grants in 2020. It will prioritize efforts focusing on North America, Central America, and collaboration between these regions. 

“Vermont-based experts have provided important insights into the ecological, economic and cultural importance of pollinators, as well as innovative management, conservation, and capacity building efforts,” says Ricketts, Gund Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. “The Apis Fund will help sustain that vibrant community of people working to understand and manage pollinators and their roles in local and regional communities.”

The Apis Fund gift contributes to the Gund Challenge. The Gund Family, which gave $6M to expand the Institute in 2016, has pledged to make an additional $4M gift if UVM can raise another $8M for the Institute by 2022.

Donate to the Apis Fund. Subscribe to Gund news alerts for Apis Fund news and opportunities. 

About bees and other pollinators

More than two-thirds of the world’s most important crops benefit from insect pollinators, including coffee, cacao, and many fruits and vegetables. Recent studies put bees’ contributions to the global economy at roughly $6 billion annually.

Further bee declines could mean higher agricultural production costs, increased consumer food prices, and an increased risk for malnutrition in some developing countries.

Learn more about Gund bee research.

About the Gund Institute

The Gund Institute for Environment catalyzes environmental research, develops real-world solutions to global issues, and connects UVM with leaders in government, business and beyond. The Gund Institute is a newly expandedUniversity of Vermont-wide center, where more than 150 faculty, global affiliates, post-docs, and students collaborate widely, focusing on environmental issues at the interface of four pressing themes: climate solutions, health and well-being, sustainable agriculture, and resilient communities.


Basil D.N. Waugh
An image of UVM Prof. Taylor Ricketts
The gift was made to the Gund Institute for Environment, home of world-renowned pollination researchers, including Taylor Ricketts.