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Help On The Way for Wisconsin’s Honeybees

PHOTO: Wisconsin State Conservationist Jimmy Bramblett urges farmers and landowners to take advantage of $3 million in grant money to help improve the habitat for Wisconsin's honeybees. (Photo courtesy of WI Dept. of Agriculture)
PHOTO: Wisconsin State Conservationist Jimmy Bramblett urges farmers and landowners to take advantage of $3 million in grant money to help improve the habitat for Wisconsin's honeybees. (Photo courtesy of WI Dept. of Agriculture)
March 13, 2014

MADISON, Wis. – As Wisconsin beekeepers continue to lose unprecedented numbers of honeybee hives each year, state Conservationist Jimmy Bramblett has announced the availability of a $3 million fund to help improve the health of bees in five states, including Wisconsin.

The money comes from the U.S. Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"Well, what we're trying to do is expand or reinvigorate, increase the habitat for honeybees across the upper Midwest,” Bramblett explains. “About 65 to 85 percent of the over-winter population – remaining honeybee population – actually forages here during the prime summer months."

Farmers and landowners who apply for the financial assistance will be able to use the money to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honeybees.

"Some examples of ones that might take advantage of this would be grazers,” Bramblett adds. “You think about grazers and you think about grasses and foraging for cows, but the types of grass mixes that we can put in there that would be advantageous for cattle would also be advantageous for honeybees.

“And then another group that's really interested – and has expressed a lot of interest – is the organic growers for some of their smaller plots."

Applications for the grant money can be made at local Natural Resources Conservation Service Offices, and are due by March 21.

Information on the honeybee health improvement program is also available at local USDA service centers, and at the NRCS website.

Bramblett says honeybees are critically important to Wisconsin agriculture.

"It's estimated that about one out of every three bites we take, we are benefitting from the fact that a honeybee has cross-pollinated some plant,” he points out. “And if you put that into dollar values it's about $15 billion of productivity that honeybees offer to the American agricultural system."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI