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State Officials, Ag Stakeholders Work To Protect Wisconsin Bees

Pollinators Critical For Many Of The State's Crops

LHG Creative Photography (CC-BY-NC-ND)

This week, beekeepers, farmers, pesticide operators and state agriculture officials met at the Agricultural Research Station in Arlington for the first of several meetings to come up with a plan for protecting bees and other pollinators.

Wisconsin grows a lot of cranberries, as well as a lot of apples, cherries and vegetables — all of which require pollination. It’s also one of the top 10 states for honey production, according to Mike Murray of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s pesticide program.

He said stakeholders are striving to come up with voluntary actions that can be taken to increase pollinator health.

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“The last decade or so, the levels of hive loss have been increasing, but beekeepers have been fairly resilient in restocking their hive and staying in business,” said Murray.

Donna Gilson, a spokesperson for DATCP, said lack of places to forage for food is one obstacle for bees.

“A number of forces are coming to bear on the pollinators. A lot of it is just loss of habitat as we have more and more development or as we have more large fields of just one crop,” Gilson said.

There’s been a lot of focus on fewer honeybees across the nation, but state ag officials say wild pollinators like bumblebees are also declining.

Murray said the plan will examine ways to improve habitat for pollinators, such as more flowers on the landscape and monitoring pesticide use. This is the first of three meetings which will result in a draft plan the public can comment on later this year.