The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pulling out the big guns to save struggling honeybee populations, pledging millions of dollars to help ranchers and farmers nurture bee colonies for food production. In the past, beekeepers have transported bees to the Upper Midwest during the summer to gather nectar and pollen, and then moved them in the spring to California in order to pollinate crops. But colony collapse, loss of habitat and pesticides have decimated bee populations, causing losses as high as 30 percent each year.
According to Jason Weller, chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the program aims to curtail losses and hopefully rebuild bee populations by providing safe habitats to store up strength and food during the winter.The program will be focused in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota, where 65 percent of the country’s commercial hives reside for part of the year.
Those states will be offered funds from the program to reseed pastures with cover crops like alfalfa, clover and other plants, which both bees and livestock thrive on. The program also provides for building and moving fences and installing water tanks with the goal of enabling ranchers and farmers the ability to move animals without destroying or damaging vegetation. Healthier crops make healthier bees.
Tim Tucker, president of the American Beekeeping Federation, says that even though the program isn’t a cure-all, he hopes farmers and ranchers will sign up to help provide a measure of support for honeybees and native bee populations.
Via Huffington Post