To help reverse the trend of declining honey bee and monarch butterfly populations, the U.S. government will invest in making federal land more bee-friendly, allocate more funds for research and consider reducing the use of pesticides. Many factors have caused honey bee population numbers to decline, including nutrition, mites, disease and pesticides.
Several bee scientists have lauded the announcement, underlining the fact that pollinators have become starved of food as the prevalence of lawns and corn has eliminated foraging areas for honey bees.
According to the Associated Press, White House science adviser John Holdren said “the federal plan is an ‘all hands on deck’ strategy that calls on everyone from federal bureaucrats to citizens to do what they can to save bees, which provide more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. economy.”
Key points of the strategy include:
- A proposed $82.5 million budget on honeybee research in the upcoming year ($34 million increase).
- Restoring 7 million acres (2.8 million hectares) of bee habitat in the next five years.
- Requiring numerous federal agencies to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and better for bees to eat (scientists warn that large land tracts with only one crop hurt bee nutrition).
- The EPA will increase efforts to study the safety of neonicotinoids (temporarily banned in Europe) and will not approve new types of uses of the pesticides until further research has been completed (if at all).