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USDA says wildflower pastures may help bees to thrive

Saturday, August 07, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: USDA, honeybees, health news

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(NaturalNews) The bee population is in steady decline in many parts of the world. But U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist James H. Cane says that planting wildflower "bee pastures" may be just the right prescription for curing the dwindling bee population epidemic.
The idea is to plant pesticide-free flower fields on various pasture lands to be a type of bee sanctuary for bees to multiply rapidly. These fields will be a safe place for bees to pollinate that will foster their ability to thrive, which will in turn keep agriculture efforts going strong.

It sounds simple, but there is a lot more to it than that. Certain flower species attract certain types of bees, and certain types of bees help other types of bees to thrive, so researchers have been investigating how best to develop and manage bee fields to achieve the best results.

The California Almond Board and the USDA's Agricultural Research Service are jointly funding the research, which is primarily being tested for use in growing almonds. After all, bees are needed to pollinate almond orchards so that the trees will bear almonds. In fact, bees are necessary to grow practically all food.

One particular bee, the blue orchard bee, is a primary target of the research as this bee is useful to the European honey bee in performing pollination tasks. According to Cane, a well-managed bee field that contains the right mixture of wildflowers could increase the population of blue orchard bees by as much as 500 percent within a year.

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