Honey Bee Pollinator Health
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production.
The honey bee pollinator effort will provide floral forage habitats to benefit hive nutritional health as part of an overall effort to increase the health of honey bees. Feral honey bees and other pollinators will also benefit from the establishment of plant forage habitats high in nectar and pollen. A large percentage of the nation’s commercial honey bee hives are brought to the upper Midwest for the bees to rest and feed upon quality forage in preparation for overwintering. The targeted five States are home to 65 percent of the Nation’s 2.5 million commercial colonies. Increased availability of forages that have low or no pesticide exposure should improve the condition and eventual survival of honey bees. This effort will leverage existing capabilities and resources, target assistance where it is most needed, cooperatively engage State and local partners, and facilitate collaboration with agricultural producers, Tribes, and others. The HBP effort will promote voluntary, incentive-based forage plantings and management of such forages for honey bees on private and Tribal lands.
The funding is a focused investment to improve pollinator health and will be targeted in five Midwestern states, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment. Recent studies have shown that beekeepers are losing approximately 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each year, up from historical norms of ten to fifteen percent overwintering losses experienced prior to 2006.
This assistance will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For example, appropriate cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, providing quality forage and habitat for honey bees and other pollinators, as well as habitat for other wildlife.
Midwestern states were chosen because from June to September the region is the resting ground for over 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country. It is a critical time when bees require abundant and diverse forage across broad landscapes to build up hive strength for the winter.
Applications are due March 21, 2014.
Since 2006, when heightened numbers of honey bee colony losses were first reported, significant progress has been made in our understanding of the factors that are associated with Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall health of honey bees. The USDA is actively pursuing solutions to the multiple problems affecting honey bee health.
Target Species and Participating States for FY 2014:
Honey Bee Pollinators (Apis mellifera)
Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
Note: No other States may participate at this time
Debbie Rynda, Program Specialist
Thief River Falls, Minnesota
Phone: 218-681-6600 ext. 116