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Plan Bee? New Wisconsin Strategy To Protect Pollinators

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Several groups of Wisconsin experts have come together to create a new plan to help protect pollinators, with steps to improve their health and survival. (Pacotoscano/iStockPhoto.com)
Several groups of Wisconsin experts have come together to create a new plan to help protect pollinators, with steps to improve their health and survival. (Pacotoscano/iStockPhoto.com)
February 1, 2016

MADISON, Wis. – Pollinators are critical in the chain of elements and events that puts food on our plates, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has developed a pollinator protection plan that offers science-based recommendations to anyone with land that can provide habitat for bees.

Donna Gilson, a department spokeswoman, says pollinators are not only a key link in growing our food, they represent millions of dollars in added crop values and thousands of jobs in Wisconsin.

"By pollinators, many people think just honeybees,” she states. “We also have about 400 species of wild bees in Wisconsin. We have 20 species of bumblebees alone.

“So we're trying to improve habitat for those species, all of them, whether they're managed or wild."

Gilson stresses that the new guidelines are voluntary, not a new set of regulations, developed in conjunction with federal agencies, tribal governments, farmers, beekeepers and UW-Madison researchers.

The plan is available online at datcp.wi.gov.

Gilson says the guidelines are written for four distinct groups, including homeowners, who are concerned about the decline of bee populations, and the risks to pollinator habitat through use of pesticides on their lawns and gardens.

"But there are also practices for farmers, for beekeepers, both hobbyist and commercial beekeepers,” she points out. “And there are practices for people who oversee open areas: counties, townships with roadsides. There's four different sets of recommendations for four different audiences."

According to Gilson, the goals of the plan are to expand quality and quantity of habitat for pollinators, to minimize stressors and improve pollinator health and survival, and to provide outreach about pollinator-friendly practices.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI