White House Announces Plan to Protect Bees
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The honey bee has a new ally these days: President Barack Obama. Responding to the continuing decline in honey bee populations, the Obama administration has just released a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.
This new strategy will reportedly make millions of acres of federal land more adaptable to bees, spend millions of dollars on research, and finding new ways to use fewer pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency is also scheduled to re-evaluate a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids.
Some scientists believe that these strategies may help pollinators that are starving, because much of the American landscape has been converted to lawns and crops that don't provide foraging areas for bees.
"This is the first time I've seen addressed the issue that there's nothing for pollinators to eat," said University of Illinois Entomologist May Berenbaum, according to the Associated Press. "I think it's brilliant.”
The Obama administration says honeybee pollination adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and over the past five years, winter losses of commercial honeybee colonies have averaged roughly 30 percent. According to the Washington Post, several universities and research laboratories announced last week that beekeepers lost 42.1 percent of their colonies over the past year, signaling an 8 percent spike from the previous year, and that the number of summer deaths exceeded winter deaths for the first time since the survey began in 2010.
The administration's strategy seeks to reduce honeybee colony losses during the winter to no more than 15 percent within 10 years, as well as increase the Eastern population of the monarch to 225 million butterflies occupying an area of approximately 15 acres in the insect's Mexico wintering grounds. Obama has set a goal of restoring or enhancing 7 million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years.