Tractor Supply’s Stewardship initiative encompasses both an investment in projects that protect our natural resources, and an emphasis on products that support sustainable living. We continue to add new products in our stores and on our website that help our customers live sustainably.
Sustainability is an important feature for many of our customers. A healthy environment may be integral to their personal livelihood, or it may be a personal passion. Whatever their reasoning, Tractor Supply works to support their needs. In 2017, much of this work was dedicated to increasing our offerings in the category of beekeeping. Beekeeping has become a popular sustainable living activity as a result of the rise in hobby farming and homesteading. Customers have begun to pursue beekeeping as a way to promote pollination and improve the health of crops, as a source for backyard honey, or as a way to help with conservation efforts to support dwindling bee populations.
Two years ago, Tractor Supply began testing beekeeping products in about 40 stores. We then expanded the category into 100 stores, and today, have a presence in 700 stores. We also offer beekeeping products on our website. And while beekeeping items may not be huge sales drivers, the category remains important to us.
Beekeeping’s popularity is not limited to specific regions, though certain states, like Texas, have a greater affinity for the hobby. With this year’s devastating hurricane season, beekeeping items were particularly popular as many people found themselves rebuilding. Tractor Supply provides customers with hive kits, suits and jackets, replacement parts for hives, entrance feeders and foundations, with a wide assortment of items online.
But all of those supplies are for naught without the main draw – the bees. In 2017, Tractor Supply began selling bees online. We work with several different aviaries to supply customers with bees, and remain in contact with the customer from the initial order through to delivery.
As the passion for beekeeping grows, our stores are working to expand our expertise and offerings. Several TSC stores serve as the home base for local beekeeping clubs, and buyers are exploring new products. We are also looking into offering solitary bees, which don’t produce honey but have strong pollinating skills, a huge draw to those focused on plant generation. In terms of pollination, one solitary mason bee can do the work of 100 honey bees, which can have a huge impact for our farming customers.
In the years ahead, we will continue to pursue products and categories like this that support our overall Stewardship mission. It is not enough to focus on the sustainability of our operations; we must also promote it in the products we provide. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, and look forward to the progress to come.
A Special Statement on Safeguarding Honey Bee Health
Tractor Supply has been actively engaged in monitoring the decline in the honey bee population and understanding the potential impact of a number of factors, including neonicotinoid (neonics) pesticides, on honey bee reproduction. We are committed to doing our part to support a healthy honey bee population and have taken the following steps to safeguard the health of bees and other pollinators:
- In 2016, we conducted a comprehensive review of our lawn and garden product line and removed all products containing neonics. We are continuing to monitor our lawn and garden products to ensure they do not contain neonics.
- Working with the suppliers of our live goods, we have determined that most of these suppliers do not use neonics on the live goods we sell, and we have directed all of our live goods suppliers to phase out the use of neonics by 2019 to the extent suitable alternatives are available.
- We have reviewed the products we sell outside of the lawn and garden assortment to determine whether any of these products contain neonics. For the few remaining products that do, we have worked with the supplier to ensure that bees and other pollinators are not likely to come into contact with these products. In 2016, these products represented less than 0.0001% of total company sales.
- We are actively promoting healthy beekeeping by expanding customer education on our website on beekeeping and planting pollinator friendly gardens.
- We have begun selling bees directly to customers through our website and expanded our assortment of beekeeping products in stores and online. We have also increased our promotional activities related to bees and beekeeping products.
Tractor Supply will continue to monitor developments in bee reproduction research and review the products and information we offer customers to support a healthy honey bee and wild pollinator population.