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USDA spending $3M to feed honeybees in Midwest

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 25th, 2014

The USDA hopes to help honeybees by providing $3 million to farmers and ranchers in five states to improve their pastures. It turns out that dairy cows and bees like many of the same plants.

MILWAUKEE (AP) The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend millions of dollars to help farmers and ranchers improve pastures in five Midwestern states to provide food for the nation's struggling honeybees under a program to be announced Tuesday.

Commercial honeybees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of produce each year. Many beekeepers bring hives to the Upper Midwest in the summer for bees to gather nectar and pollen for food, then truck them in the spring to California and other states to pollinate everything from almonds to apples to avocadoes.

But agricultural production has been threatened by a more than decade-long decline in commercial honeybees and their wild cousins due to habitat loss and pesticide use. Colony collapse disorder, in which honeybees suddenly disappear or die, has made the problem worse, boosting losses over the winter to as much as 30 percent per year.

For the complete article see the 02-25-2014 issue.

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