USDA funds $3 Million for bee habitat development

file8421288120884Growing concerns surrounding a 25-year declining bee population have prompted agriculture officials to aggressively pursue solutions for pollinators.

Five midwestern states, including Michigan, this year are working with around 3 million dollars to improve bee habitats.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding a new program to grow more plants, simply put, that bees like.

“It’s for increasing an effort to support honey bee health,” said Will Sears with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Midland County. “And it’s to improve pollinator habitat and we do that by planting certain species for honey bee forage, and those can be wildflowers, perennial legumes there’s also annuals that you can plant for them those kinda things. This year we’ve had 147 applications already and it’s open to the whole state.”

Sears is also a beekeeper and said bees are seriously impacted by weather. He says they rely on what they gather now, to get them through winter.

“What we want to do is try to get fields that would have plants in there that are blooming early in the year, midseason and late season so the bees always have something to forage on,” Sears said.

Officials said bees support about $15 billion in agricultural production by serving as natural pollinators.