Restoring The Bee Population Across The Upper Midwest - WBAY

Restoring The Bee Population Across The Upper Midwest

Wisconsin -

Pesticide use, habitat loss and colony collapse disorder are all contributing to a decline in bee population for more than a decade. With losses of up to 30 percent a year.

"The honey bee is what I call the dust mop of the environment and they bring almost everything back to those boxes we're all familiar with that are stacked out in the field someplace," said Steve Hupfer, beekeeper and member of the Brown County Beekeepers Association.

Commercial honeybees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of produce each year.

Dairy farmers and ranchers in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas can qualify for about $3 million to reseed pastures with alfalfa, clover and other plants appealing to both bees and livestock. Farmers also can get help building fences, installing water tanks and making other changes that better enable them to move their animals from pasture to pasture so the vegetation doesn't become worn down. The goal is to provide higher quality food for insects and animals.

The USDA is focusing on those five states because 65 percent of the nation's estimated 30,000 commercial beekeepers bring hives there for at least part of the year.

"In this particular area there are apples and cherries that need to be pollinated by honey bees in order to produce good, quality crops, and the quantity that actually produces a profit," said Hupfer.

At the Green Bay Botanical Garden bees are kept to help educate the public and local bee keepers about the benefits of these bees.

"If we can improve our habitat year round while the bees are flying, the bees will be much healthier and be able to take care of themselves like they used to," said Hupfer.

In the meantime, local bee populations try to survive.

"This particular winter I think we're going to actually see greater numbers of deaths and die offs in our bee population simply because of the severity of our winter here locally," said Hupfer 



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