EAST LANSING, Oct. 29, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to provide more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance to help farmers in the Midwest, including Michigan, improve the health of honey bees.
Michigan is one of five Midwestern states that is part of the USDA honey bee effort, along with Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Funding will be provided to producers to plan and install conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications for this effort until Nov. 21, 2014.
“Honey bees and other pollinators are extremely important to Michigan’s fruit and vegetable growers,” said Garry Lee, USDA state conservationist for Michigan. “There was a strong response from farmers for the first honey bee conservation effort earlier this year.”
In February, 2014, the USDA announced the first funding for honey bee conservation. In Michigan, 48 farmers entered into contracts to improve honey bee habitat on 1,080 acres of land and they will receive $193,100 in conservation financial assistance. The funding will be used by farmers to establish or improve forage for honey bees.
Studies have shown that beekeepers are losing about 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each year, up from historical norms of 10-15 percent overwintering losses experienced prior to 2006. Significant progress has been made in understanding of the factors that are associated with Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall health of honey bees. This effort is one of many that USDA has underway to address the issue, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
More information, including how to contact your local USDA Service Center, is available on the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service website at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.