How The Feds Are Helping Honey Bee Populations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has committed $3 million to help recover honey bee populations that have been disappearing in recent years for reasons that we still don't understand. The agency said it would earmark the funding "to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment."

The goal is to provide species of plants that are thought to be less harmful to the honeybees. There is considerable concern in the environmental community that frequent use of pesticides and inorganic compounds in farming has led to a decline in honey bee populations, which are thought to provide $15 billion in benefits to American farms annually.

"The future security of America's food supply depends on healthy honey bees," Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, said in a statement. "Expanded support for research, combined with USDA's other efforts to improve honey bee health, should help America's beekeepers combat the current, unprecedented loss of honey bee hives each year."

The funding is going specifically to communities in the midwestern United States, which host 65 percent of the country's commercially-managed honey bee populations d​uring the summer months. Some of the efforts that will be funded include practices to limit erosion and make soil healthier, thus providing better living conditions for the bees.

You can do your part to help honeybee populations by only buying food products that were raised using sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. Make sure when you purchase food that it is labeled as certified organic, and that the producers didn't rely on synthetic weed killers and other chemicals to grow their crops.

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