To help the bees, protect the prairie | 8/30/2016 | Staff
MireilleMireille (Posted by) Level 3
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California almond farmers who depend on commercial bee hives to pollinate their lucrative crops would benefit from increased efforts to protect essential bee foraging territory in northern prairie states, according a University of California, Berkeley, researcher.

A new paper, published this week in the journal Land Use Policy, shows that a government program that pays farmers to let marginal farmland go fallow has protected a critical bee refuge that supports 40 percent of the country's commercially managed honeybees.

Changes - Program - Health - America - Bee

But changes to the program have imperiled the health of America's commercial bee population, which is trucked around the country to pollinate some 30% of all major food crops, from California almonds to Florida oranges.

Much attention has been paid to the role pesticides, parasites and disease play in the well-documented population declines of the honey bee, but less research has been done on the role land policy decisions have on bee populations, said Jennie Durant, a recent Ph.D. recipient from UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

Declines - Attention - Land - Use - Trends

"If we want to address bee declines, we need to pay attention to these land use trends, which also play an important role," said Durant, who authored the paper with Clint Otto, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Durant and Otto examined the Conservation Reserve Program, a program started in 1985 to encourage farmers, many of whom grow corn and soy, to plant vegetative covers such as perennial grasses and bee habitat on lands that are difficult to productively farm.

Lands - Soil - Health - Water - Quality

The protected lands improve soil health and water quality, create wildlife habitat, store carbon and serve as a refuge for...
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